The way we work with and interact within our environment is becoming smarter. Our houses, offices, cars – in fact, everything from the humble light bulb to the fridge freezer – are all getting in on the act.
But are we ready to give up control to these automation protocols? After all, they can only ever be as good as the person, people or company that originally made them.
I am a self-professed geek and lover of all things gadget and tech related. Yet, I admit there are limits to my trust of technology to run certain aspects of my life.
I was recently lucky enough to go shopping for a new car. Part of this adventure involved testing a number of vehicles with automated parking. I am certain that my wife would take great pleasure in telling you my ability to park can occasionally be found wanting, I still don’t feel comfortable trusting our new car to reverse itself into a space with little or no input from me.
I’m not saying that I could do it better. But at least I know that any resulting damage would be my own fault. So the question is: Who do I blame if my car gets it wrong? A strongly worded letter to the team of equally geeky bods behind the system just doesn’t seem to cut it!
The Internet is currently abuzz with “If THIS then THAT”(IFTTT), the new visual programming language that claims it can be used by anyone to enrich and automate his or her life.
I’ve tried it, and my life is yet to be enriched. But this is only the start.
The premise is a good one. Take the things that you already use – email, the weather, Flickr, SoundCloud and so on – and by using a simple test, integrate them into other things that you already use.
So let’s imagine you’re at work and receive an email from your fridge regarding ingredients for tonight’s meal. When you leave work, the system detects your location change, prompting your house to prepare for your arrival, turning on the lights, warming the rooms. As you open your intelligent front door, music starts to play and the oven preheats to the correct temperature.
Handy, yes. Life changing? Perhaps not.
The world and our lives within it are continually changing. However, in this case, and despite the ‘automated’ tag, the change is anything but easy. We’re required to buy the right things, to code the right procedures and to remember that no matter how good the planning is, it can all be disrupted by something incredibly simple (such as a power cut).
Will I be embracing the change? Yes. And although I may be pessimistic about just how amazing our new lives will be, these little bits of automation go a long way to reducing the monotony of life’s everyday activities, thereby making a little more time for the things in life that we all really want to be doing. And isn’t that the point, anyway?
Technology is a tool. The better you wield that tool, the more effective it can be.
Danny Spraggon is head of IT EurAsia at gyro.