A smarter front door

In this series of articles, I will discuss and review how rooms and areas of a home can benefit from currently available technologies that are key elements of a smart home.

Making an entrance

The front door is the main point of entry into a home. It can be greatly improved with technology to provide better convenience, and improve the overall usability of a home.

For decades, we have become familiar with the concept of central locking in cars, that is now considered a standard feature, even for entry level vehicles.

A smart front door of today can integrate a number of currently available products, systems and technologies:

Smart lighting

Light is one of the most effective deterrents to keep unwanted criminals from your home, or to at least interrupt them.

A smart lighting system utilises motion and light level sensors to automatically switch on and off lights, and other devices (e.g. motorised shades, heating and cooling).

Sensors can also trigger predefined scenes (e.g. Welcome, Goodbye, Gone away, etc.) based on personal preferences and predetermined house rules, to automate regular tasks and routines.

Smart lock

Technology is effectively replacing analog interfaces such as the traditional lock and key to provide a higher level of convenience, and improve the overall usability of the home.

The user interface of a smart door is typically keyless, and may include a numeric code keypad, RFID reader (e.g. smart phone, touch card or fob) or biometric reader (e.g. finger print or retina scanner). Keyless access systems eliminate the fumbling for a manual key, that can be retained as a backup.

Think of smart locks and the encompassing home access control system in a similar way that a central locking system operates for a car. This functionality can be applied to all entry doors in a similar way, but with more intelligence.

Smart door bell

A smart doorbell integrates a video camera, audio microphone and speaker to provide an improved way of answering the door, monitoring the door and interacting with guests.

Video, audio and notifications can be viewed and received on your smart phone upon the door bell sensing motion or answering a guest’s bell press – you don’t even need to be at home.

Smart video cameras

Video cameras are an excellent deterrent to criminals with the latest cameras being able record very high resolution for easy identification.

Smart video cameras record video to a local storage device or to a subscribed cloud-based service when motion or sound is detected.

Similar to a smart door bell, video, audio and notifications can be viewed and received on your smart phone, allowing you to easily monitor your home.

A smarter door

Many smart home owners provide feedback of the smart front door being one of the most convenient and most valued features of a smart home. As with all smart home systems, smart doors need to be integrated into the design of the home to avoid fragmentation of form and function, and to provide the best user experience.

For the ultimate front door and entry experience, let me show you how.

What is your email signature?


I receive a my fair share of emails, and I have seen every type of email signature. Some are good, but many contain their own email junk.

An email signature should provide a simple method to sign-off on an email message and some basic information. Anything else becomes superfluous junk.


I go with a K.I.S.S. minimalist approach by providing only the basic information required to be contacted and connected. My email signature can be easily duplicated across multiple devices and platforms, and looks something like this:

@SimonLakey | Technologist | 0418 XXX XXX

  • My name (@SimonLakey) shows my Twitter name and is hyperlinked to my Twitter page. This could link to a LinkedIn profile etc. if required.
  • My title (Technologist) is hyperlinked to a web page from my website. Rather than your role, this could show your company name and be hyperlinked to your company website.
  • My contact telephone number provides my direct telephone number. When viewed on a mobile device, tapping the number enables a call to be made within the email. An international prefix (e.g. +61) may not be required with the popularity of communication and social applications (e.g. Skype, FaceTime etc.). A telephone contact might not even be required if you don’t need to be contacted by telephone.

A more professional variation of my signature that links to my LinkedIn profile and my website looks like this:

Simon Lakey | Technologist | SIMONLAKEY.com | 0418 XXX XXX

Email junk

Anything other than a minimal sign-off becomes superfluous junk:

  • Logos are challenging to display. Inserted logos often display as an attached graphic file, whilst embedded logo sometimes just don’t display. It’s also challenging to keep logos within signatures across different devices consistent.
  • Leave your profile picture on your social media sites. Any self promotion should be subtle and disguised as a link.
  • There is no need to list or link to every social media platform you are on – pick just one. If someone wants to connect with you, they will know how to find you. Your website link will also provide a way for people to find and connect with you.
  • Who really reads legal disclaimers in the footer of an email signature, who takes them seriously, and are they actually enforceable? Embedded legal disclaimers take up a lot of space, and become cumbersome when seen in lengthy email threads. Perhaps check and double check your message and recipient before pressing send.
  • You’re sending an email from your email address  you don’t need to show your email address.
  • You’re sending a electronic message, not a postal envelope that requires a return street address. If someone needs your street address that can ask for it or find it on your web site.
  • Advertising banners and graphics do not display well across different devices, and are mostly ignored. An email signature is not an advertising billboard.
  • Some seem to feel the need to promote awards and achievements as if their email signature is a trophy cabinet.
  • Salutations are possibly too formal for a email and may not he needed.
  • Keep emojis for direct messages to your friends and social media apps.


Let me know your thoughts and what your email signature is.

*The image above is of Steve Jobs’ hand written signature. From all reports, Steve Jobs signed off his emails simply as ‘Steve’.

Game changer – Tesla Model 3

Tesla will deliver it’s much anticipated Model 3 off the assembly line to customers on 28 July 2017.

The Tesla Model 3 is a game-changer. It is the first mass-market electric car, that will greatly influence how and what car we buy in the future. The Model 3 may be the final nail in the coffin for the petrol car industry. Many car owners, will never buy a petrol car again.

Think about this: for US$35k or A$45k (Americans also receive an approximate US$8k government subsidy, making it US$27k), you get a brand new, cutting-edge technology car that will never require a fill up at a petrol bowser, require less servicing, and future manufacturer updates will only improve the car, with realistic possibilities of driverless functionality etc.

The fuel savings alone makes the Tesla Model 3 almost pay for itself. It’s only a matter of time before consumers will purchase an electric car on a payment plan, similarly to how they currently buy a mobile phone.

The bigger picture is that technology industries are quickly solving the energy production and storage problem. Electricity production is soon to be almost free as we move towards cheaper outlays for individual, private solar capture and storage. The way we produce and consume electricity is soon to be changed forever, for the better.

With more than 400k US preorders for the Model 3, Tesla can’t make enough Model 3 cars quick enough, even with plans to increase production.

Unfortunately, we won’t see a right-hand drive Tesla Model 3 on Australian roads until late 2018.

A problem with smart homes

A problem with most smart homes or intelligent homes is that they are mostly neither smart or intelligent.

A searched and returned definition of smart or intelligent, in regards to a home or building goes something like this:

“Able to vary its state or action in response to varying situations and past experience.” – Oxford Dictionary

Most so called ‘smart’ homes rarely vary their state in response to varying situations, if at all.

As it is, most ‘smart’ homes are really connected homes with electronic products and systems perhaps connected to the internet, and possibly connected to each other to provide a level of home automation.

Although convenient, connected homes with their automation systems can be overburdened with superfluous user interfaces – wall switches, touch screens, mobile apps, and even voice control devices that electronically turn on lights or raise and lower blinds etc.

The functionality provided by these devices should not be confused as being smart or intelligent, neither should the scripted functionally of a ‘welcome’ or ‘goodbye’ (or similar) scene that turns multiple lights and devices on or off.

Many connected home user interfaces have little consideration for the user experience, and are electronic versions of an analogue interface – digital analogues.

In a true smart home, technology systems are fully integrated with the form and function of the home. The total user experience is considered during the architectural design process, not after it.

Traditional manual controls, and even so called ‘smart’ controls are minimised, if not removed, to be automated based on needs, presence, state of the home, and conditions of the outside world.

Don’t let your new home be just another connected home when it should be a smart home.