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March 22nd, 2014 8:35 AM by Jackie A. Graves

It's the era of home automation, and it's either the best thing to ever happen to people who love technology, and of course, having their lives made easier, or will spell the end of civilization, as we know it. Perhaps that's a bit strong, but there is a growing contingent of folks who are decrying today's advancements.

So are you really in danger? Read on.

First a mini tutorial on home automation...

"What if all the devices in your life could connect to the Internet? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, garage doors, speakers, appliances, you name it," said PC Mag. "And what if they could all communicate and take your commands? It's not science fiction, it's the ‘Internet of Things' and it's becoming a key tenant to home automation.

In a nutshell, home automation is the ability to control inanimate things "with a simple push of a button (or a voice command)." Sounds dandy, right?


"Home automation has been dubbed the future of humankind since the 1950s. However, only now are we beginning to truly realize how much effort it frees us from," they said. "Thanks to Wi-Fi enabled home automation systems, you can "tell" your home to switch on the lights, turn the air on, boil a kettle of tea, microwave a meal, vacuum the house and even fill a bath up without physically doing any of these things."

The coolest, we mean laziest products

Simplisafe calls it a "smart device renaissance, comparing today's "iPhones, voice-activated TVs, and lights that come on when you enter the room" to "17th century Europe's paintings, sculptures, and architecture." But, they caution, "as devices get smarter, will that free us up to get smarter, too? Or will it just make us lazier and more sedentary until we might as well be trapped in the Matrix?"

They took a look at six products that are part of that renaissance, and gave each of them a laziness score. The least lazy at 7 out of 10: the Roomba (personally one of our favorite products for its ability to take over one of America's most hated chores - vacuuming).

Simplisafe also called out Smart Fridges by Samsung (laziness Score: 6 out of 10). HomeChat from LG, showcased at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes the smart fridge idea a step further. It "lets people fire off text messages to appliances in natural language and then get responses couched in slightly playful attitude," said NDTV Gadgets. "LG devices that can synch to the network include a washer, stove, refrigerator and a robotic vacuum. The refrigerator can text its owner when food is a day or so from spoiling, or respond to queries such as ‘How much beer is left?'"

Enblink with Voice Commands received a 9 out of 10 on the laziness scale. This product plugs into Google TV and turns your whole house into voice command central. "You can plug your Enblink into a central box and use it to program any Z-Wave appliances (door locks, lights, etc.) to obey vocal commands. It's like Siri, but for your whole house."

The only product to score a 10 out of 10 was Revolv. "Sick of having to hit different buttons to rev up your Roomba, cool down your Smart Fridge, and open your garage? Revolv allows you to control all of your smart appliances using one interface on your phone," they said. "Swipe and tap your way to a fully automated day. Revolv does the unimaginable - it actually automates home automation. It's one step removed from doing your bidding by literally reading your mind."

Now that's cool. We mean, it's terrible. Can it be both?

PC Tech Authority doesn't think so. Their article entitled "How Modern Technology is Making Us Lazy and Stupid" is pretty clear. And pretty harsh.

"For starters, automated or semi-automated software doesn't require much human interaction, and in many cases doesn't require much of any analytical thinking," they said. "Smart phones might be smart, they make the average person lazy, stupid, and unproductive at best."

That doesn't seem to be stopping anyone from buying them, or buying the companies that make them.

Just take Google's purchase of Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. Nest Labs is "the company behind some of the highest profile home automation products now available," said PC mag. And there is no lack of competition in the market if CES was any indication.

So expect products that will tell you when you need to wash your hair - and then do it for you - or beep when your clothes have achieved a certain level of funk, then signal a robot to come retrieve them and start a load of laundry coming on the market soon. At least when you take your shirt off you’ll have to raise your arms. That’s exercise, right?

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Posted by Jackie A. Graves on March 22nd, 2014 8:35 AM


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