Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Smart Grids

Well I finally found something that does a halfway decent job of explaining the benefits of smart girds, smart homes and smart appliances. The Discovery Channel has a rather interesting video called: Smart Grids Make Fridges Smarter. The way it's presented is that the electric company tells your appliance something (what is this something?) and then something else (the appliance, so central home controller maybe) decides when to perform certain tasks. The video's example is excellent, the Frig's defrost cycle. Let's face it you wouldn't want it to run during the most expensive time of the day. Why spend that money unwisely?

I still have questions such as if they can tell our appliances when to 'save money' couldn't they also make a mistake and tell them it's okay to run when it's not the cheapest rate? Mistakes happen and I want to make sure I'm not the one at a financial loss for this. And more importantly, how would we know? Heck would we even care? A great too many people use their PC without proper tools to secure it. They just want it to work and not be bothered with monitoring security. At the same time they don't want to pay the extra cost for an IT department to administer their PCs. This is one of the many problems with automation. It's also an opportunity, a single source to manage, administer and secure the entire network including home PCs.

As a bit of bonus I found this Discovery video: Future homes get smarter. It's a Korean home that's been automated. I actually find it humorous. Why would anyone want to spend the money on electricity (something that won't be getting cheaper in the future) on the 'electronic paintings' on the wall. Also the RF ID tag on the bottom of the plate is just stupid. I doubt it will last very long in the dishwasher. How do you write the information to the plate and why would I want to? By the time I put the food on the plate I've already decided what I'm making. Finally the Frig meme (the Frige lets you know what's in there) is an overworked item on the home automation presentations. For a long time (take a look here at my Nov. 2000 Linux Journal article : Embedded Linux and Home Automation. Why get up from the couch to see what's in the Frig when you can see it all in 1080i HD TV? ;-). Marc Fluery has railed against the HA marketing of nifty geek toys. Marc has suggested marketing the luxury benefits of HA. I agree to a point but things like the 'electronic paintings' are a bit much.


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