My husband, Mike, has always been on the forefront of technology. Decades ago we had one of the first home computers. It cost a fortune and did very little, but it did pave the way for better machines to come. I was the first person in my school to have an electronic grade book rather than a paper one. Mike created an individualized way for me to keep a running tab on student work and instantly know the most current average for each of my pupils. It was a great system that even created a weekly letter for parents with the current average and a list of missing work that I sent home every single Monday. I had to get permission to use my computerized grade book instead of the old handwritten one issued by the school district. Luckily my principal was intrigued by the program that Mike had designed, and liked that my students and their parents received a weekly update that seemed to motivate them to work to improve.
Eventually all of the schools provided electronic grade books for the teachers, but none of them were ever as wonderful as the one that my husband had made for my specific needs. Still, he always insisted on having the most up to date equipment so that we might use the power of technology to do our work. When the pandemic came and learning became remote, I was able to transition into a homebound classroom with no effort thanks to his foresight.
Mike has done his best to create a smart home for our enjoyment and comfort. He keeps up with all of the trends and gets a kick out of sharing ideas with others who have the same kind of leanings. He and my brother and a nephew seem to be in a constant state of upgrading and improving the smooth running of our homes through the power of technology. When it’s not raining once a day, like it has been of late, we have a regular watering schedule that keeps our lawn and plants looking green even when we are away from home. Alexa sets timers for lighting and sends us reminders of appointments on our calendars. Our Roomba, Reggie, keeps the house nice and clean with his regular schedule of vacuuming. We never miss a program that we want to watch with all of the recording and streaming services that we have. Our watches check our hearts and keep track of our daily exercise. Our phones map routes so that we no longer worry when traveling to unfamiliar places.
Mike is now obsessed with the possibilities of electric cars, solar panels, personal drones, flying cars. He predicts that our future will save energy while also making it easier for everyone to live independently. He’s already set up his father with multiple devices that allow him to feel more secure. He predicts that we have only seen the tip of iceberg when it comes to changes that will revolutionize our daily lives.
I am not as excited about such things as my husband is, but I have experienced firsthand the joys of being on the cutting edge of innovation because of his interest in pioneering new ways of doing things. I’d like to believe that the day will come when even those who are unable to care for themselves will be able to safely continue to live in their homes with machines of all sorts doing the work to keep them secure. We can now vacuum and mop our floors and wash our clothes and our dishes, but what about having robots that will actually take dirty items to those appliances, and then return them to the places where they should be stored? Imagine always having clean clothes and linens without having to sort, clean, fold, and put away. I’d like to believe that it is possible to make such things happen.
I dream of a smart kitchen with mechanisms that cook our meals while we are driving home from work. I’m not talking about a slow cooker or a timer on an oven. I’m going bigger than that, and thinking of a system that perhaps uses frozen ingredients in prepared containers, finds the correct ones that are somehow coded, combines the items, and then cooks them and has them waiting for us after our traffic battles on the freeways.
Even better would be some type of smart machine that cleans up after we cook and eat. I think of no more dirty dishes sitting in the sink, or messes on the counters. Entertaining would be wonderful if we had a mechanical helper programed to tidy up while we sat enjoying our guests.
I used to scoff at the idea of some of the things that I now use on a daily basis to keep my household running almost effortlessly. I’ve become a believer in the power of inventiveness. Even though it was stressful, we were able to maintain the flow of the most essential services even during times of mandated shut downs through the amazing power of automation. People “saw” their doctors. Students still had classes. Necessities arrived at our doorsteps. We visited with one another through the power of video. None of it was perfect, but think of how much more difficult things would have been without the technology that kept us going. Now imagine what may lie ahead. I can’t wait to see the wonders that are coming our way.