Interoperability

We all love gadgets of one type or another.  Lately, there have been several new gadgets for the home, from coffee pots to washing machines, promising connectivity to a “Home Kit” of some kind.  Even if you are not that enthused about your refrigerator going online to re-order milk, you may find yourself replacing your broken fridge and wondering which cool new one to get. As more and more examples of this come through, you’re going to have a smart home by default.  This can be a really great thing if you place focus on interoperability, and a frustrating thing if you don’t.

 

            Viking makes fabulous ovens.  They now have models with a smart meat thermometer that flashes the lights in the home when the turkey is done.  How cool.  Never burn the turkey!  But the only way to have this feature in your home is to have a Viking stove in conjunction with the interoperable light switches. 

 

Same with your garage door opener.  One day you will replace it, and when you do, you’ll see that Liftmaster makes one that is connects online, and controlled by your phone.  Much like the oven, it can tell the alarm to arm, the home’s lights to turn off, the thermostat to change, and more, if you’ve purchased interoperable dimmers and thermostat. 

 

            But rather than talking to each other, the key to doing this right is choosing components that talk to a particular “ecosystem.”  This is what Apple, Google, and Amazon are trying to create, but many other companies exist that already have ecosystems in place.  A few brands of these are Control4, Savant, and Elan.  These guys try to be “Brand Agnostic,” and talk to whatever you buy.  That way, you can pick out whatever new gadget you want, and know that it will work with everything else in your home.

 

             The price of these 3rd part ecosystems range from $500 to $5,000, depending on just how elaborate your plans are, but rest assured knowing that this is the smarter approach, at the moment, than whatever G&A come up with.