Mark Zuckerbergâs been having a tough time. The Facebook CEO has been making good of his New Yearâs resolution to create a smart home powered by an A.I. called Jarvis, a reference to Iron Man. The problem is, itâs quite difficult getting all the appliances to play nice with each other, and some of them work better than others.
âOne thing I learned is itâs hard to find a toaster that will let you push the bread down while itâs powered off so you can automatically start toasting when the power goes on,â Zuckerberg said in a blog post published Monday. âI ended up finding an old toaster from the 1950s and rigging it up with a connected switch.â
It sounds like an easily-remedied problem, but it highlights one of the bigger issues about wiring up smart homes. Zuckerbergâs analog toaster wasnât suited to the digital age, but he could have had the same problem with a proprietary Google toaster in a Microsoft house. What about if he wanted his Tesla to command his Xbox, could he make them communicate reliably?
Thereâs been some efforts made to unify smart devices, but like with most things in tech, thereâs a few competing standards and little sign of harmonization. Appleâs HomeKit works with Siri, so users can control HomeKit-powered appliances with a command. Similarly, while some smart home devices will work directly with Amazon Echo, others will need hubs to interface between the two. The result is a mish-mash of standards that doesnât quite work across brands as expected.
Zuckerberg is making good progress with his project, and now wants to add more features to improve its daily usefulness, but has come to recognize its limits. He estimates he spent around 100 hours on the project but, while it would be great if it could eventually âlearnâ new house control skills, he does not believe this would be feasible even after 1,000 hours. Regardless, the fact that he got a functional system up-and-running shows it is feasible, but perhaps a tad more difficult if youâre not the CEO of Facebook.
Photos via Getty Images / Justin Sullivan, Flickr / MujtabaTM