There is nothing new under the sun…turn, turn, turn

The smart house of the 1980s

Today, you can use iPads or smart phones or whatever to make changes in properly equipped houses – turn on the garage lights, turn the air conditioner on, whatever.

Of course, this is nothing new, as the New York Times noted back in 1988.

The house of the not-too-distant future is electronic, and you will be able to play it as you would a fugue. About a dozen companies in the United States, Japan and Europe are now making whole-house automation systems for both new and existing houses. The new levels of convenience, security and time-and-energy savings they provide promise to inspire a vast market and create a whole industry.

Well, it took a while – decades – for smart houses to hit the mainstream. Not from lack of trying by these original pioneers, though.

Overcoming the resistance of buyers intimidated by technology is another challenge. Many companies have designed home-automation devices to be user-friendly.

”Our system is more like a pet than a computer,” said Grayson Evans, president of Archinetics, a Portland, Ore., company that manufactures Max, a system with its own voice.

”We gave the system a personality,” Mr. Evans said. ”We even calibrated the nature of the voice so that it’s slightly dim – not so intelligent that you’ll feel Max will take over the house.”

And Evans was around well before 1988; I first heard of him in 1983.

But according to LinkedIn, Archinetics itself became history by 1989, and Evans is now in Turkey.

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