Ten years ago, smart houses were supposed to be the next big thing. Then, 5 years ago, they were supposed to be a huge deal. And now that Google and Amazon have entered the industry, they are projected to be even better.
I have no way of knowing whether they are, but I know one thing: I chose not to have a smart house. And three years ago, when my flat was entirely remodeled and flipped upside down, I had a fantastic chance. But I was uninterested.
I made that choice for four reasons and didn’t buy any smart home tech (and I stand by it).
#1. It’s all too complex for me!
It’s not simple to correctly set up a smart house. It also doesn’t “simply work” sometimes. Things are delicate, break often, and need work to set up. Yes, I know a few folks that like it. If that’s their pastime, they should pursue it. I would rather spend my time exploring new technology.
#2. Security is crucial for me!
Any smart home / IoT gadget may be shoddy and vulnerable by default. This may be considered a subset of the “complexity” argument since you’ll need to spend time protecting things if you don’t want to expose your whole life and gadgets to anybody who can follow a 1-page dark web guide.
I’ve considered purchasing a smart door in the past. Then I decompiled the program that controlled the door, and the result is that I no longer have a smart door. Is it safer against the average thief? All that counts is that it is safer than those of the neighbors.
#3. Privacy is a huge concern!
By purchasing a comprehensive smart home solution from Google/Nest, you may avoid the complexity and most of the security concerns. Then you bid farewell to your privacy.
Hidden microphones capture everything you say and feed it back to the servers to “improve the service.” All that behavior has become the standard in our “surveillance economy.” If you choose to depend on a smart home company, you will almost likely give up privacy.
Not that Google will be watching you, but you should be aware that your data will be managed by a third party, and you will have no way of knowing how carefully or ethically it will be handled.
#4. Return on investment is important!
If having a smart house was worth it, every other concern might be considered an acceptable trade-off. But it isn’t the case. Only a small percentage of smart home enhancements are really improvements.
Is there a smart thermostat? What are smart lights? Is there a smart washing machine? Is there a smart oven? Smart window blinds? What is a smart screen? What do you mean, smart audio? Is there a smart doorbell? All those features save no more than two clicks on an existing device.
Even today, I can program my old-school, non-connected washing machine. I can adjust the temperature in the room by turning a knob (and I’m not concerned with maintaining a consistent temperature). Why would I want to save a few clicks by using a smart home assistant and connecting hundreds of dubious devices? I just don’t see sense in the rest of it.
Don’t get me wrong: I support digital transformation, and IoT upgrades for buildings are critical. But only in places that make sense, such as hotels, office buildings, and shopping malls. In a hotel, a smart thermostat may save a lot of money. In a two-bedroom apartment, it would save pennies. And I don’t need it!