A Smart Home can lead to increased energy usage

I’m in the process of making my home ‘smart’.  Which is a horrible, trendy marketing label that is completely inaccurate.  I mean, the home isn’t smart.  It’s just establishing connections between the home and a remote server, along with software to facilitate programming and interoperability.  But I digress.

I’ve noticed something fascinating as more devices in my home become connected and programmable.  Energy usage is increasing.  That floor lamp in the corner?  It was too much of a pain to walk over and turn it on, so the room was never well lit.  Now, Alexa turns that on when asked, and it’s also part of my routines for when I wake up, return home, etc.  Same thing applies to many of the lights in my home – normally it’d be too inconvenient to turn them on, and I’d just live in a house that was not lit up like Clark Griswold’s home at Christmas.  But now I have a choice.  Siri or Alexa take care of it for me, usually unprompted (yeah, I have to competing AIs in my life now…more on that later).

So, add in the increased energy usage, plus added energy required to produce a connected LED bulb instead of a standard one, and operational energy of the bulb’s connection and the AI hub communicating with me…and I’m not seeing a gain here.  But the geek side of me still loves it. 🙂

I’m still figuring out the best way to set up all this connectedness…the software is not as friendly as it needs to be, nor as complete.  I’ll delve into that in the near future as I figure this out.  For now, it’s time to say goodnight to Alexa and Siri.  And if you’re curious about Alexa…this scene from a recent episode of Mr. Robot did a cool job of showing how humans can find themselves interacting with this emerging technology:

51 foot long, walking, fire breathing mechanical dragon

79ad34db1f-750x441Now this is cool…a walking, fire breathing robot dragon that’s 51 feet long (would that count as ‘life size’?).  Created by the Zollner Group in Germany, its purpose seems to have been a fun publicity stunt (it was a part of some folk play), but hey, nothing wrong with that if this is the result!  The stats are impressive.  Weight is around 11 tons, and it’s powered by a diesel engine generator to drive the massive hydraulic system, with a top speed of 1.8km/h.   Ok, so it’s slow, but it *walks* and breathes *fire*!  How cool is that.  Check out this video:

If you’d like more technical details and history of the project, the best place to go is Zollner’s website here.  Or, for those of you with short attention spans, check out the video below.

You’ll notice a cart-like dolly under its belly in many shots.  This is to assist with moving this monster around, though it CAN fully walk on its own as shown in this video:

3D printed buildings

3D_printed_houseThe idea of building houses using massive 3D printers is nothing new…but it hasn’t moved beyond the idea stage…until now.  In China, the WinSun Decoration Design Engineering company has developed a machine to print ten sample structures, each about 200 square meters in size (they didn’t invent the machine, but are the first to really do something on this scale).  The printer extrudes a concrete-like material to build up the walls layer by layer; printing the sloped roof is possible if the house is done in slices that are then rotated up into position (or you can print the walls in their normal orientation, and add a roof using other construction methods).  The video below shows the process well.  I’d be curious in seeing an environmental comparison of this process versus traditional wood frame houses – concrete is not eco-friendly, but it does have the potential to last much longer.

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