Our homes are getting smarter but there is still a long way to go

October 22, 2014
nest thermostat

When we bought a house this summer, making our house smarter was on our agenda. The idea is to ease our life by controlling many devices from anywhere in the world with our iPhone. Since I know that many advancements will happen in the next few years, I don’t want old technology in my home. Unfortunately, it meant that I had to delay the addition of some convenient features.

The Good

The first tech thing that we installed was the Nest learning thermostat. We love the ability to control the heating and our A/C with our iPhone, even when we are not at home. We’re pleased with our Nest so far. If you aren’t familiar with it, the Nest thermostat does more than save on our energy bills. After a 1-minute setup, Nest starts to learn your schedule. Over time, it’ll program itself according to your habits. It’ll help you manage your energy savings while keeping you and your family  comfortable when you are at home. There is also an auto-away and an away function. My husband likes to check the stats on his iPhone.

We have the classic programmable thermostats for the heated floors of our bathrooms and our basement. They were a pain to program. They feel dumb compared to our Nest thermostat but now that we figured out how to program them, we’ll keep them. I don’t feel that it’s worth investing the extra money at this moment.

In case you’re looking for one option, I discovered a wifi enabled thermostat for floor heating systems at BlogPodium last month. The Signature thermostat by Nuheat looks like a standard programmable thermostats. It might lack the sexy edge of the Nest but it seems to compare well in terms of features.

The Bad

Besides the Nest learning thermostat, I was quite disappointed by what the market offers to home owners. We have a long way to go before these connected objects appeal to the mass. For now, they remain a market for the techies.

The biggest issue is that many products depend on proprietary technology. They don’t talk to each others. I talked in the past about the need to smarten up the objects we already have or to have our new connected objects do more things. I don’t want to fill my home with many gateways. This is why brands should collaborate with each other.

There are some initiatives that want to reduce that problem. As a fan of the Nest thermostat, I hope that the ‘Works with Nest’ program will expand beyond the current list of partners. ‘Works with Nest’ makes it possible for your Nest devices to securely interact with the things you already use every day, both inside and outside of your home. There is also Thread, a networking system that get devices to reliably and securely talk to one another, without draining your battery.

Smart objects for our home are bulkier than you imagine. The Kevo Smart Look by Weiser comes to my mind when I think about this issue. I understand why they stay quiet about the indoor view in their marketing materials. I love the convenience of a smart lock. Since the features sound great on the box, I bought two Kevo Smart Locks. I quickly returned them when I saw the enormous part that goes on the interior side of the door. It’s an eyesore! The fact that it’s powered by 4 AA batteries is part of the size issue. I interpret it as a sign that the technology is not ready yet.

Programmable light bulbs is another area that needs improvements before I spend money on them. There are a few companies that make them but none that does everything I want. I would love to install smart light bulbs to control my outdoor lights and to automatically open one or two interior lights when we are away. We’ll wait until they fine-tune them.

Our home are getting smarter but we’re are still in the beginning of what is possible. The technology is not quite there, in my humble option. But the future looks pretty exciting. I can’t wait to see what it’ll bring us.

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