Sam! Turn on The Lights.

Sam! Turn on The Lights.

Remember TV adds for “The Clapper”? Remember the first remote control television? When you think about it, the light switch next to every door is a form of remote-activation device also. The first light switch dates back to 1884. It transformed everything and is a powerful symbol of how we naturally put our creativity at the service of lifestyle.

The light switch transformed basic daily realities and improved the safety of our homes. It was no longer necessary to light candles or oil lamps or other hazardous devices. We could call forth light upon entering a room instead of first making our way to the nearest oil lamp in the dark. And as with nearly every other invention the human mind has ever brought to life, this one generated far more than a mere electrical current; it generated new ways to further enhance our daily experience.

The Smarthome Superstore, a well-established and reputable source for home automation devices, defines home automation thus, “Anything that gives you remote or automatic control of things around the home.” Anything is right, for home automation is no longer limited to light switches. Today’s home is a living and thinking entity. You can actually talk to your home.

Home automation involves lighting, security systems, home theater systems, phones, temperature control, indoor and outdoor irrigation and even leak watch systems. Interestingly, to this day, the most often automated system is the lighting system.

If you are of my generation (1960’s), you may have lived with a parent, often your dad at that time, who developed a love of the gadgets of the time; gadgets he proudly experimented with and displayed. Perhaps you were the first family on the block to use automatic light timers.

I remember my dad setting these up all around our house when we prepared to leave on vacation. He thought it was the greatest invention and always upgraded to the newest model. At the time, each light required its own device. We thought that was pretty cool. It did not even occur to us that one might want to control all lights from only one location. But some engineer somewhere already knew this was the next step. Today, my father’s lights and home temperature are controlled by a single device.

Years later, I was fascinated by the next generation of home automation technology when I walked into a friend’s house, another gadget-tinkerer sort of a guy, who playfully demonstrated the voice-activated lighting system he had recently installed, and it talked back.

This device could be programmed to respond in a number of fashions, with male or female voice. His had a male voice and referred to the home owner as “Master”. My friend would say, “Sam, turn on the living room light,” to which Sam would respond, “Yes Master,” as the lights came on. “Sam, dim the lights”. “Sorry Master, I will dim the lights”. After about a year of this, he turned off the voice response ability!

Today, even our cell phones respond to voice commands. Perhaps in a not so distant future (or it may already exist and I am not yet aware of it), we might be able to phone home, literally, and ask our loving abode to turn on specific lights and select a specific music track in anticipation of the master’s arrival.