A Commentary on Smart Home Technology (Inspired by my Mom)

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I guess I just kind of assumed that everyone that was putting in the effort to buy a smart home device had already put some effort into researching smart homes, and was ready to put in some effort to get their device set up.

Enter my mom.

My mom is a great person. A lovely person. A smart, hard working person. She is also that person that, as she got older, got lazy about technology. At some point in her life, she started to just rely on her kids to tell her what to buy, set it up for her, and show her how to use it. Even after we moved away. She would plan her purchases according to our visitations. Her most recent purchase was an Apple watch, which she purposely bought to coincide with a visit from my brother.

My mother currently owns a desktop computer, three tablets, a laptop, two iPhones, and an Apple Watch. She can use each device, individually, to about 20% of its potential. Since I’m an early adapter to new technology, she is always hearing about a new device from me. While I don’t encourage her to go out and buy these new devices, she does get curious about them, and sometimes purchases them. She recently told me that she almost bought an Amazon Echo. When I asked her why she wanted one, she didn’t really have an answer. And, worse, I know that she would never even spend the time to figure out how to use it properly. She would be excited about it, get frustrated about not knowing how to connect it to her WiFi, wait for someone else to set it up for her, use it once or twice, then forget it exists.

I was left wondering how many people there might be out there that are like my mom. I started to question whether or not we are even using the smart home devices we have now to their full potential, and if we’re even ready for the newest advances. We’re a society that wants things when we want them, but are we willing to put in the work beforehand? We’re so used to technology companies doing all the hard work, and just delivering us a device that is ready to deliver what we want when we want it. Smart home technology isn’t that advanced yet. Becoming a smart home user requires a certain level of commitment and a definite learning curve.

Are smart home things interesting enough to the general public to get them to buy, but too complicated to get them to keep using? Are these devices, which would have absolutely stunned our great-grandparents, just sitting on shelves, or in boxes, unused and forgotten about? Will home automation ever become more regulated and easy to use, so that it keeps the attention of people like my mother?

Do you have a wannabe adapter in your life? Is it a parent or a friend? Tell me your story in the comments.

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Julie is totally technology driven. She is an early adapter, getting the newest devices first and loves seeing how they work. She is the first one called when her friends need help setting up networks, new computer systems, printers and cool home automation devices. She loves being the token "dork" in her group of friends.

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