By Carol F. Heavern
Here we go again, with more smart things sneaking into our lives. So far I have managed to avoid smartphones, skipped the home smart speaker, and delayed my smart car purchase. But other smart stuff is gaining on me. The latest innovation? The new smart home.
Many people want to have an updated house to live in. So, what would happen if I went out today to buy or build a newly constructed home? Before this “smart revolution,” all I might be looking for is a bigger kitchen, a home office or maybe a first-floor laundry room. Now I will have to determine what kinds of smart appliances should be in my new Wi-Fi kitchen. Unfortunately, in my current home I have already had problems with some of these. However, I do confess that it would be delightful if the new built-in dishwasher texted me when my dishes are dry.
Meanwhile, the video doorbell interests me greatly. This seems like a high-tech version of what was once the peephole in my front door. Please tell me that this video feature cannot be reversed. Sometimes I answer the door in my old bathrobe, and I might scare away anybody if they see me first.
Of course, you no longer need to be at home to see who is at your door: There is a smartphone app for that. One reason for using this is to prevent people from stealing packages from your front step or porch when no one is around. Personally, I think there is no good substitute for a dog that barks loudly whenever anyone approaches your property. So, has anyone invented a successful barking app yet?
Assuming all is well at your empty house, you can also unlock your front door from a different smartphone app. But this makes me very nervous. Anyone coming into my home hallways may not get into the house safely, as there is a sneaky group of boots and sneakers scattered all around behind the entrance doors. We may come home and find someone face down on an entrance hall floor.
If any preapproved package delivery people get past the obstacle course in either hallway, how do I know they won’t wander into the kitchen for a snack and start watching TV on my new smart refrigerator door screen? And when we get home, will they have cleaned up in my kitchen? We can only hope.
Finally, a smart home security system is not on my new home wish list, as I am sure that it can be accidentally set off by my husband. He has had many noisy experiences at home with our car alarm because he goes around the house with the key fob in his front pocket at all times. Whenever he sits down or bends over to tie his sneakers, this alarm goes off. Any time when we are not at home, I expect that he will sit down or bend over at some point. Naturally, this might activate the smartphone home alarm app and our house will then emit an ear-splitting noise. Why doesn’t he just give up sitting or bending over permanently, or wear clothes without pockets? Our neighborhood would appreciate the quiet.
When our smart home speaker has a bad day, there may be smart appliances going haywire, and video feed going blank, and packages piled up outside on the front porch. So, when we get home and find that we are locked out of the house, we will know why. It may be a good idea to move into the garage for a while, until our home feels better.
Carol F. Heavern, of Buffalo, is a computer tutor who tries to live smart-free.