Smart Devices Are Getting Smarter

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2016-08-19 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Smart Devices

The thing that makes these smart systems great is that they work as advertised, and, in most cases, I don't have to do anything unless I want to make a change.

Over the past few years, I've purchased close to a dozen connected devices and installed them in my home. While a few were either poorly designed or insanely complicated to set up (a couple had to be returned for a refund), most have worked well. It's clear that the internet of things (IoT) and the connected home have arrived.

My favorite devices include the following:

Belkin WeMo Light Switch: The old switch, which controlled lights on the front of the house, had to be programmed manually with tiny buttons. As daylight hours changed, this translated into several maddening minutes per week making adjustments. Instead, the IoT light switch pulls sunrise and sunset data and combines them with my rules so the switch works flawlessly.

LiftMaster garage door opener: Who would ever need an Internet-controlled garage door? Well … I found out how valuable it is when, on a trip to Colorado, a neighbor texted and asked if we had left the garage door open on purpose. I have no idea why it was open or how it got open, but I used the app to close the door from somewhere in the Rockies. On another trip, I opened the door momentarily to have a neighbor stow a couple of deliveries.

Ecobee Thermostat: I hardly ever touch the wall thermostat, though it's great. The app on my iPhone is the controller. Placing heating or air conditioning in vacation mode is ridiculously easy, and I've even done this even after we've departed for a vacation. Best of all: The smart thermostat has cut the power bill by at least 20 percent.

Rachio Sprinkler Controller: Replacing the previous controller and getting this one up and sprinkling was incredibly simple and required only about 15 minutes. The system uses weather forecasts and information about the type of plants, sun exposure and soil conditions to water efficiently. Frankly, it's like getting a "Get Out of Sprinkler Jail Free" card. There's no need to program zones, adjust them for weather, and remember to turn the system on and off when it rains or it's hot. It automatically adjusts watering time. And it also cuts the monthly bill.

The common thing that makes these systems great? They work as advertised, and, in most cases, they're "set and forget." I don't have to do anything unless I want to make a change.

That's a winning proposition—a concept that's critical in any technology framework, whether it's at home or in the enterprise.



 
 
 
 
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
 
 
 
 
 
 

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