How the technology I discovered in my childhood became my obsession as an adult.
When I was a child, I was fascinated by Home Automation.
Welcome to our first blog post.
Back in 1983, my primary school invested in Apple Computers. Apple 2 Plus to be exact. We learned how to use Apple Turtle Basic software to draw pictures. I won first prize for an amazing rendering of a guitar. Well, when I say it was amazing - it was pretty good considering the 280x192 screen resolution displayed in 6 colours. At the time, it was a phenomenal way to work in class with ground breaking new technology.
Not long after, my mother took me to the movies on a rainy Sunday. Being a child of the 80’s there was no shortage of Sci-Fi on the big screen to choose from such as “The Terminator”. “Dune” and “2010 - the year we made contact”.
There was one movie however that clearly stood out for me and to date has made a lasting impression on my interests in technology and home automation. That was “Electric Dreams” starring Lenny Von Dohlen as Miles (Moles) Harding and Virginia Madsen as Madeline Robistat.
In the movie, Miles buys a “Pinecone” computer, a homage to Apple later to be known as “Edgar”. Miles initially purchased the PC to help him with his business (and to stay one step ahead of obsolescence) which eventually became sentient with the ability to talk with voice synthesis.
Miles from the 1984 hit movie "Electric Dreams" setting up his home automation.
What was more fascinating to me at the time was that he also bought and installed switches to control household appliances to regulate heating, lock the doors at night, wake up with radio, phone dialler, coffee maker, blender control, home security, and lighting. It was at that point that I felt an immediate emotional connection to home automation. That was the future right there, back in 1984.
Fast forward to 1997 and after studying computer science and learning as much as I could about computing including building home media centres for a hobby, I found a product called HAL2000. Hal was a computer based home automation tool that allowed you to control an array of devices in your home from anywhere in the world by voice and a 4 digit pin code. I tried to implement as much as I could in my tiny studio apartment. To me this was next level, but not without its fair share of flaws.
And then there was a myriad of home automation devices, standards, technologies and vendors that came and went over the years and I constantly battled to get all these things to work harmoniously and securely. Companies went broke, standards changed, operating systems also came and went. I was frustrated. I had a box filling up of obsolete devices that were collecting dust.
Then came my opportunity in 2010 to work for Apple and I was absolutely elated to take on one of the worlds first roles as a Business Development Manager for iPhone and iPad in Enterprise. As I worked hard in this position, I kept an eye on my side hustle hobby being home automation.
In 2015, I was in a fortunate position to buy my first house. That year I could see that the new wave of mainstream home automation was starting to play out and amongst the connectivity standards such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, KNX, X10, C-Bus & more. There were also operating systems that were fighting it out including Apple HomeKit, Google Home and Samsung Smarthings plus the emerging Alexa. I of course bet on HomeKit.
I knew that Apple would get this right for three reasons.
Firstly the security certification process for new accessories was vetted and extensive.
I also believed that Siri would play a big part in the automation of things both from your pocket and as a wearable on your wrist with Apple Watch.
Lastly Apple had the most sophisticated app ecosystem that allowed deep integration of apps into the home automation environment. Adding to that I always felt that the AppleTV would eventually be a trojan horse for the house - and now it is.
And so I begun to build out my 1960’s house to make it a modern smart home. I believed that the best controller for your smart house is the one in your pocket or on your wrist.
I haven’t looked back.
I dipped my toe in the water by investing in a Schlage Sense Lock for my front door, I also picked up some Philips Hue lights that were pre HomeKit that I soon replaced with a HomeKit certified hub when it became available. I then added other items such as Withings smart scales, Netatmo Weather stations and Belkin Smart Plugs as well as a Logitech Harmony Controller for my TV, speakers and receiver equipment. I also played with IFTTT to connect them all together. I was ecstatic.
The number one challenge for me was the difficulty in obtaining access to HomeKit certified devices in Australia so I resorted to importing them through freight forwarding companies but even then it was slim pickings for accessories. Over time I have been keeping my finger on the pulse to see what products are emerging here and testing or adding them when I can.
And this is why I founded Domotic. I wanted what likeminded people wanted. A place to go that not only has the most comprehensive list of HomeKit certified devices in one place but somewhere to assist with advice, installation and support when needed. We have been scouring the world to find the best Apple HomeKit accessories for the Australian market and now its all online at our new store.
It has been a rollercoaster of fun over the last few months building a new startup but I feel that we are on the right trajectory to educate the local marketplace on the benefits of Apple HomeKit. We believe that we can enhance the lives of Australians through technology and innovation. Not just for those that want to upgrade their house to a smart home but also those who with accessibility needs.
Over the coming weeks and months I will be bringing you regular news and information around the HomeKit market including new device reviews and stories to inspire your adoption of Apple home automation.
Today, my HomeKit house is very different to what it was 5 years ago. I live and breathe MFi with HomeKit, CarPlay, Airplay and Siri. It has become an obsessive passion of mine and I respect the journey that Apple has been on and where it may go in the future.
Thank you for your interest in Domotic. Feel free to reach out to me anytime with any questions at all about Apple HomeKit.
Managing Director and Founder