What’s your home IQ? A look at Mississippi smart homes – Jackson Clarion Ledger
UPDATED at 4:30 p.m.:Â The story has been updated to includeÂ Lisa Shoemaker’s work background.
The formal living room of cable television lobbyistÂ Lisa Shoemakerâs Clinton home is textbook Southern Living. With McCarty pottery, a piano, aged cabinetry, an array of coffee table books on topics of Mississippi history, and a genteel mix of colors and fabrics, the abode exhibits a cozy charm â with a modern twist that becomes apparent when Shoemaker picks up her voice-activated remote and says âbananasâ with a slight drawl.
âSiri doesnât always understand us Southern girls, but this does,â she jokes.
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Within seconds, a television presents a selection of shows from the Food Network. A feature of the Comcast X1 service, the remoteÂ allows users to navigate programming options without scrolling through a guide.
The shortcut is just one example of the home automation Shoemaker,Â a lobbyist for the Mississippi Cable Telecommunications Association,Â has incorporated into her daily routine. Last year, she purchased a homeÂ plan, which allows users to control and monitor security cameras, smoke detectors, thermostats, lighting and motion sensors, through an internet-connected device (her instrument of choice is her iPhone.) Prior to that, she had a standard keypad alarm system.
Through the home planÂ app, she can check in on her beloved Bichon, Virginia, while sheâs at work and receive alerts when a door or window is opened. She can turn off the alarm ahead of a guestâs arrival and control her thermostat from the road.
Shoemaker is not alone in her embrace of âsmart homeâ technology. A survey by the real estate firm Coldwell Banker, in which more than 4,000 Americans were polled, found that 45 percent either own smart home technology or plan to invest in it.
Although the term âsmart homeâ is believed to have been coined by the American Association of Home Builders as early as 1984, thereâs not a general consensus on what makes one.Â Is it enough to have an app that controls the thermostat, or are more features needed?
In May, Coldwell Banker announced â along with CNET â qualifications for what makes a smart home. Under the companyâs definition, a home must have a smart security or smart temperature feature, as well as two additional features such as smart appliances, smart HVAC system, smart TVsÂ or smart water systems.
Allison Blanchard, a Coldwell BankerÂ real estate agent basedÂ in Bay St. Louis,Â anticipates having at least one smart home listed in the near future.
Sheâs talked with at least one builder and expects features such as a keyless lock opened by iPhone recognition, lights that turn on when detecting the device, and security features that can send a text of who’sÂ coming or going.
While all the specifications have not been finalized, Blanchard likes the idea of WiFi-connected appliances, such as aÂ refrigerator that can take a selfie to remind you what groceries you need,Â and countertops that charge electronics wirelessly.
Blanchard said when she started selling in 2012, the idea of a smart home was limited. “The biggest thing was, could the house have internet,” she said.”Â Home automation, she said, is building off of preexisting technology. “We need countertops. (The self charging)Â isÂ just making them better.”
As of 2015, more than 500,000 customers nationwide had signed up for Comcastâs home automation platform, according to an article in Forbes magazine. With promotional packages, plans for the service start shy of $40, but elements of the system can be replicated through third party-gadgets such as the Amazon Echo or Nest â no subscription needed.
While cost-effective options to control energy, lighting, security and entertainment are available for the mass market, if youâre looking to deck your home out with smart technology reminiscent of Tony Starkâs mansion, the only limit is your pocketbook.
Savant Systems is a premium home automation company with clientsÂ including Bono and the late Steve Jobs (the Apple founder outfitted his yacht with Savantâs technology). SavantÂ CEO William Lynch referred to the company’s features as the choice âfor the 1 percent of the 1 percent.â
Digital Systems in Ridgeland is the sole company in the metro areaÂ authorized to install Savant products, according to Savantâs website.
At a showroom site Tuesday, an employee walked through Digital Systems’Â options: a motorized art canvas that slides back to reveal a TV;Â home theaters that rival those featured on “MTV Cribs”; a wall-mounted iPad that control the lights, entertainment and security.
The “scenes” feature is the most unique. Users can walk around theirÂ home and capture different elementsÂ âÂ such as lighting, streaming music or movies and temperature âÂ that are all integrated within the companyâs app. They can then save the combination of elementsÂ as a custom “scene.” All it takes is the selection of the scene to recreate the magic.
While the business can be a one-stop shop for theÂ wow factor, Digital SystemsÂ owner Mike McRee will tell you flashiness isnât the objective.
âWhatâs most important (for us)Â is what is practical for people and beneficial. I believe technology is here to serve us, not to be a burden,â he said.
McCreeÂ added that users want instant access to their entertainment sources, not glitches or frustrations.
His approach of simplification might find fans with tech reviewers. On Monday, The Washington Post reported that a consulting firm, Accenture, found people had discarded their smart home appliances after finding the setup process too complicated.
âThereâs a lot of confusion related to what a smart home is. A lot of people think of the old cartoon âThe Jetsons.â We try, however, to move away from all the trickery that automation can do and bring it to a level of how it can enhance peopleâs lifestyle. If it canât simplify your life, or ease burdens, we try to move away from it.â
Contact Bracey Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-961-7248. Follow @braceyharris on Twitter.