Home automation. It's been in the works for decades, after butlers and maids to perform tasks below your station like switching lights on and off became too expensive to hire.
Past home automation efforts were neither here nor there as we didn't have ubiquitous wireless networks over which mobile devices can be prodded to open doors, and to set air conditioners and heat pumps to uncomfortable temperatures so as to entice dinner party guests to leave.
Now we do, and the big tech companies have pretty much stitched up the home automation market. Not Microsoft, which flubbed mobility and with it, a slice of the $100 billion home automation market.
Apple however dipped its oar in with the HomeKit framework that has been around for eight years now.
It remains a minnow compared to the vast amount of products that Google and Amazon's Alexa can connect to. We're talking a few hundred devices compared to tens of thousands.
Why bother with HomeKit then? Privacy and security are two good reasons, ease of use another. Since you're networking your home, you shouldn't overlook those factors. Apple does have a good track record here.
HomeKit itself works pretty well. Mostly, as it does have some quirks and the total bill for devices can be high.
My HomeKit experiment featured some of Legrand's Netatmo devices, namely the nicely designed Smart Home Weather Station, Rain Gauge, and Anemometer.
A Smart Indoor Camera was also included in the package, but it was the environmental metering that I was keen to check out, at a total cost of $565 for the devices.
Setting up the indoors and outdoors weather station units through HomeKit and adding the rain and wind metering accessories was pleasantly trouble free using QR codes.
The physical installation was a little harder for the anemometer which needs to be high up.
At least 1.2 metres above the tallest bit of the roof, in fact, to avoid eddies and turbulence messing with the ultrasonic sensors. As you can tell, I didn't fall off the roof and lived to write this column.
To get the most out of the Netatmo devices, you'll want the Legrand iOS app which gives you pretty charts showing the temperature, rainfall and wind speed over time.
Apple's Home app doesn't give you much of that, and won't work remotely over the Internet without a $159 HomePod, a pricier 4th Gen Apple TV or a spare iPad which is annoying.
You can also join Netatmo's weather map to check the climates at other stations around the world, while sharing what it's like outside where you are. New Zealanders have bought quite a few Netatmo devices according to the map, and I wish there was a way to be more selective about the location information the station shares.
Legrand promises fairly good accuracy for the devices, like 0.5 metres per second for the anemometer, +/- 0.3° C for temperature, and 1mm/hour for the tipping buckets rain gauge.
Overall, home automation is a seductive concept that I suspect will eat into what little spare time and cash that I have, as I try to connect and control more devices.
It is marred by the lack of interoperability between devices and frameworks though.
The good news is that the tech industry has recognised that kind of lock-in as a problem, one that irritates customers and which might even attract regulator attention.
They're trying to fix it with the oddly named Matters open source standard for home automation systems but it has been delayed again until some time this year.
Meanwhile, where there's a need there's a will, and people are taking matters into their own hands so to speak. You'll find thriving communities of developers who've been there, done that, like the HomeBridge.io project that has thousands of HomeKit plug-ins for all sorts of devices.
An open standard for home automation would make life a great deal easier for developers, so here's hoping Matters will happen.