Saturday, 28 July 2012

Another thing I don’t understand about technology

<dont mention the Olympics>
My ageing car, like most recent vehicles, has a security system. I get a nice little remote control with two buttons, one to lock it and one to unlock it. The unlock button also helpfully turns on the interior light. Then once in the car it cant be driven until the key is turned in the ignition and the immobiliser is happy with the key.  The key itself folds into a plastic handle so there are no sharp edges in your pocket. Some modern cars dont even need the key, just the proximity of it or a card. This level of security and convenience is fairly standard on a cheap basic mass market car.

My house cost about 30 times as much as a new car. I have a scrappy metal key for the front door which has a sharp scratchy pointed shape and a fiddly small piece to hold and turn once you have found the tiny unlit hole. The back door has a separate key, which although smaller than its ancestors still follows a design that someone from 1000 years ago would easily recognise. There are yet more separate keys for the conservatory door, garage and shed.

So why doesnt my house have an electronic central locking system? One key that opens everything and switches the lights on as I walk up the path on a wet night or that will lock all the outside doors with one button press at bedtime.

I suppose I could get such a system, although it would cost a fortune and the retrofit would be a nightmare. I could get pick and mix, an automated lock here and remote lights there. There is even an iPad app that will remotely control wireless enabled mains outlets or control the heating remotely. Yet none of this stuff is built in nor integrated together, when it would be both simple and cheap to include in a building, essentially a few low voltage wires, some electric locks and sensors and a car type electronic receiver and control module. Why does nobody offer it?

(</dont mention the Olyimpics>

What on earth was that ceremony about? I get much of the symbolism, the stage effects were clever and impressive, but all that NHS stuff and the non-stop metrocentric diversity and plastic steel drums? Not a mention of religion (I'm not religious but our history doesn't work without it) and not a hint to recognise that outside London rural England still exists.


  1. One word - turnover. Houses, once built, last a long time. Cars on the other hand are replaced around every five years. Bigger market for new cars compared to new houses, so more profitable to supply gadgets for cars.

    Then there is the whole security issues over something easy to nick. Just drive away. Compared to nicking a house. Well OK, the contents of a house. But then the contents of a house are not usually comparable with the price of a car. A few hundred quid nicked compared to thousands.

    The thing that stops innovation in house keys is regulation. Or rather insurance mandated keys. You can get different types of keys, but the moment the insurance company finds out they'll refuse your cover. Why, because they have a nice system setup with the lock people who have lobbied to have their keys as the only keys and no other.

  2. a cautionary tale, my boss,s son ( he,s an electrician )automated his house, curtains, fire , light . garage door etc, went on holiday for 2 weeks and when he came back his house , was almost wrecked ,someones car key had caused everything to go haywire!