On today’s the iphone smart home I am going to gush over the fantastic new smart home manager I use to manage my smart home.
This is not to ignore my last post in which I argued computers aren’t the ones we should be worried about in the future, its people.
Once automation takes hold, people are going to be interacting more and more with machines.
In fact, they may even interact with machines more than other humans.
What, do you suppose, will happen to mankind when we start interacting with our devices more than each other?
I bring it up to say I still stand by those things. And I will get back to those issues in the future.
But, that is a topic for another day.
So many devices
Before we get to the devices and software (apps) for your smart home I want to spend some time discussing the all important smart home manager.
For every smart device there is an app to control the device.
And that device can have over a dozen different brands.
Just for lights alone there are lights that can not only turn on and off but change
color as well.
Philips Hue is one of the market leaders here.
And then there are the light switches that can turn on and off the lights and other electronics.
Wemo and networking vendor TP-Link are two in the dozens in this field.
And for each of these devices there us an app for it.
The problem becomes self-evident very quickly.
How do you control all the apps that control all these different devices?
It is not uncommon to be in a situation where you have two dozen different apps.
It’s like having too many remotes.
What do you do?
You buy a universal remote.
In the world of IOT, our universal remote is an app manager.
Now you could look to something like Alexa or Google Assistant as a solution.
Both devices along with Samsung’s Bixby, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana are what's known as a virtual assistant.
For the purposes of this blog we will not go into detail on what the virtual assistant is but to confirm it is a way of controlling many different devices with your voice.
Amazon, Alphabet (Google) amd other, have created tools which allow IOT devices to interact with them.
So if a device developer is smart, he/she will not only build a proprietary app, but also functionality that allows the devices to work with these popular digital assistants.
But again, if each developer is spending time building an app for each new digital assistant individually, many of the smaller ones will get left out.
Fortunately, there is common tongue that all these devices are capable of speaking.
One such language is called IFTTT.
Take a look at this video to learn what IFTTT is:
The Ultimate Manager
For me the ultimate home manager doesn’t come as an app in a smart phone or in a digital assistant but in a powerful versatiles beast of a machine also know as network attached storage or nas device.
Synology and Qnap are perhaps the best known nas makers in the prosumer tech arena.
Some of the more tech savvy amongst us might use FreeNas or Unraid to have a genuine server experience.
What makes these devices so much more than storage is their operating system which supports, not only their proprietary apps, but dockers.
What are dockers?
Basically a docker is what would happen if a virtual machine and app had a baby.
Docker are mini virtualized environments that are used to run apps.
I’ll go more into dockers on another blog post.
For the purposes of this article, dockers, like ifft, are made by a rich community of programmers who work cooperatively to provide free apps that do just about everything – including managing your home automation system.
For instance, take a look at the app /docker Home Assistant.
It's robust. It's open source and most importantly it's free.
The program interacts and manages all your smart devices from your phone or your nas server.
And the best part – it can be controlled anywhere there is web access.
So if you’re driving home on a hot sunny day, because it supports ifttt, you can instruct the app to monitor your location and when you are less than an hour away, you can have it turn on your ac.
Or if you have smart blinds like Mysmartblinds, you can tell the app to close the blinds when the air conditioner is turned or when the temperature reaches a certain degree or when you are close to getting home.
The smart home manager therefore is the essence of automation.
It is the future of innovation and will make your home a truly smart home.