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Harris Blackwood: New-fangled home automation straight out of ‘The Jetsons’
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I always enjoyed shows like “The Jetsons” and “Lost in Space.” They seemed so futuristic at the time.

The Jetsons lived in Orbit City where George, the father, worked for Spacely Space Sprockets. His work time consisted of one hour, two days a week.

The Jetsons had all the conveniences of a housekeeping robot, a flying car, and a lot of household gizmos that operated by remote control.

They walked their dog, Astro, on a conveyor belt.

“Lost in Space” first aired in 1966 and was set in the far future time of 1997. They also had a lot of gadgetry.

They had a robot that attempted to have a sense of humor. He coined the utterance, “Danger, Will Robinson,” which became a catchphrase used by many.

I thought about these programs the other day when I was in a store and saw a couple of aisles of nothing but home automation. Our kids gave us a thing that we can speak and it will turn on the light. You can also ask it to play music, give you the weather and answer certain questions.

But that’s just the entry level.

Our grandson, perhaps one of the most perfect children ever to grace this planet, comes to visit with his electronic gear. He’s just 8 months old. He comes with a camera that transmits to our room, where we can see if he is sleeping. He also has a noise machine that makes white noise that seems to help him sleep.

They now make a device that will warm up a baby bottle with a touch of your phone. You can also use your phone to adjust the heating and air conditioning from across the room or across the country.

One of the most popular things is a doorbell button that comes with a camera. It will transmit to your phone and you can talk with your visitor and either accept a delivery or scare them away.

I find it all very interesting.

Oh yeah, we also were given a little TV thing where we can call our grandson and see him in real time. He likes for Pa, that’s me, to sing for him. His favorite song is “The Noble Duke of York.” If you don’t know that one, call me up on your little TV thing and I’ll sing it to you.

There are also little robots that will vacuum your floor when no one is at home. It seems like every week there is something new that will do various tasks at the touch of a button.

There are a few things that were predicted for the future that haven’t happened. The Jetsons travelled in flying cars. I’m reminded that we haven’t delivered on that one every time I get stuck in traffic.

We also don’t travel in tubes wearing aluminum foil suits, like the folks on Lost in Space. And I’m reminded that all this was supposed to happen 20 years ago, although first revealed over 50 years ago.

We have made one small step for man into the world of home automation. It may be a while before we make that giant leap.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on