October 07, 2014

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Home Automation

Sometimes I look around and the world seems to be the same as always. In fact, if you told me I had woken up and it was now 1970, I would believe you. Other than automobile styles, homes and buildings are absolutely the same. Planes and ships look the way they always did, and people dress pretty much in an androgynous universal style—jeans and tees.

I want things to be 21st century, more advanced and technologically challenging. They are, of course, in invisible ways. It’s all about how we use a television, phone, digital apparatus, and employ software more than ever. It’s also about how we store information and get it through online research. The medical world has been revolutionized as are many industries in terms of manufacturing processes. We have reduced toxins and emissions, controlled waste, and utilized synthetic fuels.

But guess what. Our kitchens and bathrooms are low tech. Many people have the same faucets as they did 70 years ago. They might be a tad rusty, but they work. How can this be? How did hygiene and food preparation get left so far behind?

There are “smart homes” nowadays and ways to control one’s environment with just a touch. We just don’t do it. We think it’s for the distant future. Well, the future is now. Your lights go on as you drive up the street with your handy iPhone. Later, when you get inside the house you can turn on music, the coffee maker, or whatever else you like.

Now you can also flush your toilet without moving a muscle, just hovering over the right spot. You can turn on a faucet without straining yourself with one little tap. Ah! Technology is all about laziness and ease. It may seem like it’s time saving, but when you are dealing in milliseconds, it really isn’t. Even though they are still selling new versions of older models, you can buy new appliances and fixtures in keeping with a more modern world. You wouldn’t ever think of using a ten-year-old TV or giant cell phone with an antenna. You would dream of buying a used 15-year old computer with a separate screen and hard drive. You went for a Kindle Fire and a tablet, so why not new modern faucets?

We all draw the line somewhere I guess. And yet we use faucets more than keyboards. Automation should be routine by now and yet how rare it is in residential and commercial spaces. Sure, timers have always turned on the sprinklers and nightlights. They have started the toaster as you arise. But this is small stuff. Updating kitchens and baths seems so obvious. Perhaps that’s why it hasn’t been done.

It’s not as expensive as you think. A good regular non-touch faucet is pricy anyway. Maybe you like the look and feel of the levers and pulls. So much décor is retro these days. I, myself, like the idea of progress and hands-free water fills the bill. Maybe a little more publicity is warranted and I am now trying to do my part!