Saturday, December 7, 2019

A little bit about technology...

My friend Jodi recently posted about technology and the future being now, and it got me thinking. As I left a comment and tried to keep it to a reasonable length, I reflected on where we were twenty or thirty years ago. The technology you have in the moment is always the best technology you've ever had. In the mid-90s, we thought home computers and share-ware floppy disks were the shit. Today, we can control our homes with only our voices.

I work in technology for a company that makes smart home equipment. This stuff is pretty amazing. Before I began working there, I had no idea about smart homes. I knew it existed, but made a choice to stay in my bubble, under my rock, and not learn how it worked. It all seemed a little bit complicated to me. Get this plug to connect to this hub, to work these things. Some things work together, others don't, it seemed like a mess.

But the truth is, it's not that hard and it's getting easier every day. The way the technology works together to create a network of commands to control the home is brilliant. If you invest in it, you can turn your lights and other electronics on/off, adjust your thermostat, control doors, cameras, and alarm systems. What you can do with it is almost limited only by your imagination and the technology's inability to physically reach beyond itself.

Still, it can be a little bit overwhelming... or, maybe it's just me that's overwhelmed? I remember when we were watching Star Trek and thinking no one would ever be able to video chat. That's not going to happen, it's ridiculous... yet, here we are. The crew on Trek can use their replicator to create things and food. We're not there with the food, but with a 3D printer we can create a lot of pretty neat things. Star Wars allows callers to chat holographically and while we're not there yet, we are able on a larger scale to create some pretty realistic holograms (think Michael Jackson).

My point is, it's hard to think about technology that's at your finger tips as futuristic, but it's also impossible for some of us NOT to think of it that way, too. Most days, it doesn't even occur to me that my iPhone is more powerful than any home computer I had in the 90's and early 2000's, and is still more powerful than some computers today depending on what you buy. I take for granted that I can Facetime with my mom or Skype with sister who has an Android phone (ewwww!!), or that I can control my internet with an app on my phone.

What's a little bit ironic about all of this is that we don't have a single smart home feature in our house, unless you consider a TV remote you can talk to futuristic. It's not because we're cheap, I mean, smart home tech is pretty inexpensive for the most part. It's because my husband doesn't really trust it. He won't install smart locks because he says we can just unerringly put the key in the lock and turn (as an aside, the internal tumblers in our back door lock broke once making it impossible to do just that). He has this idea that with a keypad, anyone could break into your house.  He believes smart thermostats have a mind of their own--the Nest certainly does--and wants to be able to control the temp manually. He doesn't trust it, fearing it's sort of half-baked or not well enough developed to trust it.

So, until he starts to believe it's trustworthy, we'll just keep our regular old semi-low-tech home. Or maybe I'll start sneaking these things in, one at a time, until he becomes accustomed to them and we have a smart home without him noticing. Remote lamp switches certainly wouldn't go amiss for my Christmas tree right about now!