Long before the advent of cell phones, people used to make phone calls with old rotary dial models connected within their local communities on party lines managed by an army of operators. The old phone systems were a lot of fun if you had some time to kill and you were on good terms with your neighbors. Today, the cell phone is a smart device capable of doing everything from placing phone calls to sending and receiving text messages to completely controlling a home automation system.
Speaking of home automation, have you ever wondered how the smartphone became such an integral part of the smart home? It’s actually quite logical if you step back and think about it.
The Early Days of Home Automation and Telephones
Believe it or not, the roots of modern home automation and telephone systems date back to about the same time in U.S. history. In the late 19th century, Alexander Graham Bell was already in the process of patenting the first telephone device. At the same time, other inventors were looking for ways to automate things around the home.
The two technologies remained largely separate over the first six decades of development. The first working prototype of an automated home appeared at the 1930s World’s Fair in New York City. At the same time, we were just getting a handle on finding a way to make transcontinental phone calls. The two began to converge by the 1970s when it was finally possible to connect home security systems to remote monitoring centers by way of landline telephones.
Pure home automation still was not as popular as home security at the time, but inventors kept working on ways to automate thermostats, lighting, and appliances. By the time the first commercially viable mobile phone network was introduced in 1979, home automation was well on its way to becoming established technology.
Modern Home Automation and the Smartphone
Mobile phones remained relatively primitive until Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007 – just about the same time home automation engineers were starting to incorporate their technologies into home security. This was when it happened. Engineers realized that if home automation were ever to take off, there had to be a way to control it remotely. They looked at the personal computer as a way to achieve that goal. However, it quickly became apparent that the smartphone was a better option.
As soon as engineers discovered the potential of the smartphone for home automation, the floodgates opened. They began writing apps specifically designed for their home automation devices. And even though the market was highly fractured at that point, it set the stage for what we now enjoy in the home automation industry today.
The smart home of today can be as highly automated as the 1930s prototype discussed earlier. But the advantage of modern technology is remote access and control. Home automation still requires a central hub if it is to be used to its maximum potential, but the smartphone makes it possible to control that system from virtually anywhere in the world. This sort of control would never have been possible without smartphones.
It has been more than 100 years since the inventors of the past began looking at home automation and telephone communications in earnest. More than a century later, we have managed to take their dreams beyond their wildest expectations. And because the smartphone is now an integral part of the smart home, we have the capability to do a lot of exciting things in the home automation arena.