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Parallels between the state of HA and early days of PCs

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  • Parallels between the state of HA and early days of PCs


    It occurred to me the other day that are numerous parallels between the current state of Home Automation and the early days of PCs (late 70s early 80s). Having grown up in Silicon Valley during the dawn of the PC era, I'm struck by how familiar it all seems as I get more involved in home automation.


    Numerous competing "standards"

    Today's heavyweights in HA include Z-Wave, Insteon, Zigbee to name a few. In the early computer days we had Apple ][, IBM PC, Commodore64 and more. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. And like the early days of PCs, each "standard" has its share of proponents, detractors, religious zealots and haters. And no one solution is right for everyone.


    Experimentation, Ingenuity and Entrepreneurship Abound

    While we wait for victors to emerge in the standards war, we try things. The same was true in the early days of PCs. And everybody is trying to come up with and market the next "best" thing. Lots of new companies are releasing products, but few survive in the long run. And we often end up collections of orphaned products from defunct companies. And even when the companies go toes up, we keep using their stuff it if works for us.


    Community

    Perhaps the thing that struck me the most is the sense of community among those of us have gotten involved early on and are now just starting. We ask questions. We break stuff. We learn to fix things. We do things that hadn't been done before, sometimes just to see if we can. We push the technology and try to use it in novel ways. And we learn from those who have "done" before, and build on it. We share notes and stories about what we've done and built, not to brag, but to illustrate what worked for us. But more than anything, we help each other. There are those who contribute freely to the community and share what they have learned do so in the spirit of helping each other and improving the landscape and ecosystem. Home automation, as a whole, is better for it..
    My home is smarter than your honor roll student.

  • #2
    Well written James.

    - Pete

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    • #3
      Things change. Things settle down, then they change again. Having been involved in consumer electronics since Packard Bell made one of the most popular color TVs I've seen a lot of change.

      An example of standards. The first video recorder I trained on was Cartrivision a skip field recording device with stacked tape reels. It recorded in black and white and played in color. It was the first way to get movies to play at home. Sold by Sears and built in to console TVs. Then we had Matsushita's VX with stacked reels of 1/2" tape, replaced by the VHS format that became widespread with side by side reels. It was full field analog color recording and playback. Around the same time Sony introduced Betamax which was superior in NTSC resolution, but VHS won the market. We had new speeds and S-VHS tacked on to increase recording time and improve video bandwidth It was considered a standard. We had VHS-C and 8mm for cameras. Every one of those formats as well as NTSC are now dead, but for the 80's and early 90's VHS was ubiquitous. The DVD came on board in the late 1990s and completely killed VHS in the late 2000s. ATSC became a television format in the early 2000s and by 2009 NTSC was gone.

      The point being is that no matter how much we think of something as a standard, it is only a new format away from becoming obsolete. Only 60 companies that were in the 1955 S&P 500 are still in it.

      I do agree with you about community. This one is especially invested. A good community gives you the best protection possible to delay the inevitable demise of a technology.

      What we are doing now will inevitably be replaced by learning systems, fuzzy logic and other technologies that will replace the tedious programming. It won't be long before an Event will be replaced by you talking to your home assistant. "Turn the lights on to 80% and cool white while I am home at night" . "Oh and while I am watching television make them warm white and drop them to 30%" . The system asks "do you wish for this setting whenever you are watching TV?". Eventually it will learn what you want it to do. You will also be able to tell the system to control anything in natural feeling language. HomeSeer can be a part of this future, but it will take serious effort and investment.

      Randy Prade
      Aurora, CO
      Prades.net

      PHLocation - Pushover - EasyTrigger - UltraECM3 - Ultra1Wire3 - Arduino

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      • #4
        Originally posted by rprade View Post
        ...
        What we are doing now will inevitably be replaced by learning systems, fuzzy logic and other technologies that will replace the tedious programming. It won't be long before an Event will be replaced by you talking to your home assistant. "Turn the lights on to 80% and cool white while I am home at night" . "Oh and while I am watching television make them warm white and drop them to 30%" . The system asks "do you wish for this setting whenever you are watching TV?". Eventually it will learn what you want it to do. You will also be able to tell the system to control anything in natural feeling language. HomeSeer can be a part of this future, but it will take serious effort and investment.
        I concur, reminds me of how nest thermostats try to learn your schedule and self program.

        I also predict that home automation devices will become 'plug and play' similar to what happened with computer peripherals

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