The House is Alive! Automated Homes are Here


The new wave of technological innovation is coming to your home by way of automation. You will soon be able to control most aspects of your home, from locking doors to turning on lights to opening and closing the garage, with your smartphone.

Start With Lockitron

One of the newest and most fascinating technologies in the automation market is Lockitron, which allows people to control the locks on their doors through a device that’s installed over the interior deadbolt. Homeowners will be able to lock and unlock doors — and keep track of whether the door is locked or not from anywhere in the world, as long as you can access an Internet connection.

After being turned down by Kickstarter, Lockitron raised all of it’s seed money on its own and is now one of the hottest inventions out there, through home automation or otherwise.

Meanwhile, there are already features on many of the appliances and electronics with automation technology. Garage doors have been automated for years but now can be opened and closed from just about anywhere, working in a similar way as Lockitron. This is all especially helpful when you’re on vacation or away on a business trip as your smartphone becomes the control center for your home, and its security, showing you what you may have forgotten about or, soon, when someone is knocking on the door to your house. There are even pet-feeding systems that allow you to feed your pets through a device that connects via Wi-Fi through your smartphone so that you won’t even have to come home to feed your pet, which might make them a little lonely.

The Controversy

Of course, there are concerns about how secure this may be. All digital inventions can be hacked in some way, and when it comes to locking and unlocking doors in a home that’s supposed to protect people and valuables, you have to figure thieves will figure out how to override the system in some way. According to, homeowners should consider these risks when deciding between a DIY system and an established provider. While DIY systems save money over time and are easy to install, some residents may prefer the peace of mind that security professionals deliver. Remember, the security companies you hire to watch your house has people on standby 24/7 to respond if anything happens and will contact the authorities.

However, you have to figure these automated systems will have that option soon. As technology becomes more active in all of our lives, you have to figure it will only serve to bring places like our homes to life in our best interests.

Image by 黛 欧 pursuant to the terms of Creative Commons license.

Smart Homes: A Bright New Future for Residential Security

Nowadays, it can be difficult for the average consumer to keep up with the rapid pace of technological development. Most businesses share the same challenge. In fact, the most successful companies gain a competitive edge by continuing to evolve and adapt to these incessant changes.

Home security is one industry that is undergoing wholesale changes in response to technological innovation. The business was born in when Boston inventor was issued the first patent on electromagnetic burglar alarms in 1853. Over a century and a half later, high-tech wireless alarm systems are replacing traditional hard-wired systems as the industry standard. But here’s the kicker: the home security business is beginning to branch outside of – well – home security. In addition to catching burglars and detecting fires, modern security systems are now also being designed to manage energy consumption, control electronic appliances – and much more.

This new and exciting technology is called home automation.

What is home automation

We are now living in a gadget-dominated world. Tablets, smartphones, 3D televisions and other gizmos play an integral role in our everyday lives – and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The future is exciting, daunting and confusing all at once. As technology continues to advance and give birth to new innovations, it can become extremely challenging to keep up with all of this innovation.

But what if you can make all of this technology work together?

A connected, or “smart home” was once considered a fantasy that could only be seen in futuristic Hollywood movies and TV shows. But now, this technology is not only a reality, but also affordable for the masses.

A home automation system allows you to integrate the various technological devices work together into one simple-to-use application – accessible through a remote control. These systems can be managed within the home, or remotely, using a smartphone, computer or other web-enabled device. Listed below are some of the things a home automation system can do:

  • Control your thermostat and lights
  • Watch real-time surveillance video of your home
  • Play music in any room with connected speakers
  • Control your home theater system
  • Arm and disarm your home security system
  • Remotely lock and unlock doors

Home security adopts home automation

Many high-profile residential security companies have already begun offering these services to their customers. For example ADT (check out, released ADT Pulse in October 2010 – giving their customers the ability to manage nearly every aspect of their home from a smartphone application.

The future of home automation

The shocking part of home automation technology – it’s just in its infancy. Today’s smart devices don’t all run on the same technology (X10, Insteon, ZigBee, etc.), making many devices or systems incompatible with one another.

While it’s hard to know what home automation technology will look like down the road, its future as a valuable commodity is anything but uncertain. According to international industrial company Ingersoll Rand, the smart home industry will reach $2.5 billion in just two years – a 30 percent increase in the number of households with such home automation systems.

CES 2013 Highlights from Cali Lewis

Cali Lewis has been interested in home automation for as long as I’ve beeen following her video blog.  In her highlights from CES 2013 she mentions a few items and her new cohost did an entire segment on one product but I was actually hoping for a more thorough investigation of this subject.  Maybe next year.

Her latest post back at GeekBeat.TV is on home gardening


Ethnographic (Inductive) Opportunity Analysis

IMG_0286Tomorrow TheAnthroGuys are giving a presentation about our core competency: Analytic Induction that gets practiced in search of opportunities to “add value“.

This is a rather clunky way to express what we do but we are still sharpening our ‘laser focus’ so bear with us.  Once we reach Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, I’m sure it will sound better.   We will be in a lecture hall of entrepreneurship students at Fresno State.  Incidentally, the name of the lecture hall is, “Pete P Peters”.  As I often tell students of ethnography, reality is more interesting than fiction once you start actually noticing it.

Ethnographers and entrepreneurs share a relience on inductive skills to accomplish their goals.  Once this is understood, we can learn a great deal from each other.

Tomorrow our presentation about all of this that can be found here: Ethnographic (Inductive) Opportunity Analysis Presentation.

In a few weeks, we will return to their class to continue this discussion.  Our hope is that some – if not all – of these students will see the value of this skill set.

Spontaneous Inductive Action – Low-Tech Fixes for High-Tech Problems

Jason, a clever colleague of mine, found an interesting article that reminded me of Claude Lévi-Strauss’ use of bricolage [French for, “fiddle, tinker” and, by extension, “make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are to hand (regardless of their original purpose)].

The Fresno Scraper
The Fresno Scraper

Paul Boutin describes a variety of simple solutions to complex problems that typify the sort of ingenuity that launched “The Fresno Scraper” and will pull us out of the challenges currently facing us in the San Joaquin Valley. This sort of “routine applied induction” or is occurring around us all the time but rarely celebrated.  In light of the growing challenges we all keep reading about (e.g., this story of Mendota’s water problems), we need to start hearing more of these stories of applied cleverness to balance things out.

Paul Boutin states this idea better than I could in his article:

Today’s shaky economy is likely to produce many more such tricks. “In postwar Japan, the economy wasn’t doing so great, so you couldn’t get everyday-use items like household cleaners,” says Lisa Katayama, author of “Urawaza,” a book named after the Japanese term for clever lifestyle tips and tricks. “So people looked for ways to do with what they had.” via Basics – Low-Tech Fixes for High-Tech Problems –

“Point Forward” not Back


Wow, if you ever wondered what Practicing Anthropologists do for the world, visit the Point Forward site today.

I found out about this firm’s web site by following a Google add link that was on my own LinkedIn page – yes apparently the whole “targeted advertising” thing actually works from time to time.  I was then very pleasantly surprised to find a web experience that gives much more than it takes.  Point Forward’s site is a great way to learn about the most exciting, emergent area in anthropology.  I plan to encourage my students to visit it this semester.  I really liked the cases they provided, e.g., the Chick-fil-A case and the Sony case are particularly effective.  They also offer reports for a more in depth look into the wonderful world of Practicing Anthropology.

Dial2Do-Gmail-Omnifocus Hack

Dial2dodial2do_logo_n1 is the killer app of 2009.  This is a bold claim in that it’s January 2009 but this app is really changing my workflow for the better. For example, this message is being recorded from my phone to illustrate the power of dial2do’s functionality.  I spoke that sentence into my jawbone ear piece which was good enough quality for the voice recognition in this app to transcribe it perfectly. I then sent that 30 second message to my Gmail account before pasting it into this article.


I loved Jott but Jott’s free version limits messages to 15 seconds and they have recently moved from human transcribers to machines which has increased annoying transcription errors.  Jott’s free version lacks much of the functionality of Dial2Do as well.

For example, in Dial2Do, I can speak “to do”s into my phone while driving and they end up in my productivity app on my computer when I get home.

How this hack works:

1. Call Dial2Do
2. Ask Dial2Do to send an email message to yourself (“me”)
3. Talk  up to 30 seconds worth of actions (i.e., to-dos)
4. (previously) Set up your Omnifocus account to accept Gmail messages from “me” via Dial2Do.
5. Once you open your computer, your actions (to-dos) will be in the Omnifocus inbox waiting to be processed.

The biggest game changer for me is that I can now “brain dump” verbally while on the road and all of that goes directly to Omnifocus.  Rather than writting on my hand or on sheets of papers (I often loose) or emialing myslef actions, Dial2Do has streamlined my productivity flow considerably.

And I’m not the only one who has figured out the Jott vs Dial2do issues.  Scotsman on a Horse just blogged about this as well a few hours ago.