testing out macjournal
one week until my final paper for Society, Nature & Technology is due. i’m still behind in that class, but this paper should be pretty good. i’ve been spending lots of time catching up on my reading, and am starting to formulate the thesis for this paper. it looks to be about home automation technology and a promising path to standardization. the entire class is about exploring the varying definitions and approaches to sustainability, and the point is that there are just so many versions of sustainability. the thesis to the class is that although there is no standard yet, all of these competing/synergistic explanations will eventually culminate in a ‘sustainability standard’ that will allow us to move forward with implementing sustainable practices.
i think that there are several impediments to the uptake of home automation technology. for one thing, there is no clear idea of or purpose for home automation technology. some proponents hope that it will increase energy efficiency, so that argument is for economics. other proponents look to home automation merely to provide ease of control for things such as lighting and security. others still look to make home automation part of an entertainment rich home environment. my personal opinion is that home automation should be used to increase energy efficiency, but all of these other reasons could and should be part of the equation.
what i am referring to as home automation needs to be clarified. when i refer to home automation, i am talking about the software that actually communicates between the various technologies in your home. so whether you interface with the software through your laptop, desktop, or wall-mounted touch screen, it should be understood that the software is the most important part of this argument.
equally important to making home automation grab a foothold is the method that the various technologies use to connect to each other. USB? RJ-45? one of the other myriad proprietary cables that manufacturers are trying to peddle off as the next industry standard?
beyond the physical connection is the communication. why are all of the existing home automation packages lacking? because they all try to do either too much, too little, the wrong things entirely, or they make it difficult to actually program and control anything. i don’t think that any company should come out with an all in one home automation system, but rather a platform that allows other mini-programs to talk to one another. sort of like google: google is the master of mini-programs. they’re simple, elegant, and easy to use. apple is also a master at this game. the best part is that the programs perform their own missions exceptionally, and then interact with one another seamlessly.
so this new home automation system could be, say, the OS with just about no functionality. maybe it’s even a Windows box running a web browser (an easily programmable interface through a web browser) or a Mac Mini. then one company creates the program that interfaces with the HVAC (air conditioning and heating). the standard physical connection allows the program to interface directly with the data, and the data is then visible through the lens of the program. so again, the HVAC program might look like a typical thermostat. there’s more data running in the background, but all i see is the temperature control. another program could monitor the temperature in the hot water tank. yet other programs could monitor the incoming power from a PV array, the charge of a battery bank, the functionality of an energy-recovery ventilator or a dehumidifier, or lighting controls. anything at all, but the programs should be light and have a single purpose. the beauty of the platform is that it allows the mini-programs to converse with one another. so a schedule program could tell the HVAC to turn on in the morning when you wake up,