in Home Automation

Wifey Approval Factor

Oh hello Wifey, I wanted to ask you about the WAF. 

What the Actual F…

No, no! Wifey Approval Factor.

Seriously? You just made that up. 

Not at all, the idea has been around for nearly thirty years. Geeks were using “Spouse Acceptance Factor” at least as far back as 1988. It is important to us geeky hubbies to have this otherwise we can’t keep buying more technology.

(Laughs) Fair enough. You know I was sitting in the dark yesterday, right?

Ah yes. I did apologise for that and I’ve fixed those sensors now. So, other than that how is life in an automated home?

Pretty sweet. A little bit buggy.

Quite. Let’s start with the sweet, what do you like about it?

I like that I can walk into a room and all the lights will turn on without pressing any switches.

No more pressing buttons like an animal.

Exactly! The rooms without motion sensors feel ancient. Waking up is nicer now too.

How so?

Music from Sonos fades up gently as the lights in the bedroom come on. Depending on the time of year the curtains will open too. At night it is like having a turn-down service since the curtains will have closed and soft lighting turned on automatically. I like multiple lamps in a room, and turning them all on individually used to be a bit of a faff. Now they all turn on with one command.

Anything else?

Yes. Before we had the heating controls installed the house used to be really cold since I didn’t really want to heat the entire place all the time. Now just the occupied rooms are kept at comfortable temperatures, while the rest of the house can be kept in economy mode. Individual control of every radiator – and scheduling of temperatures – has been lovely.

Sounds like you’re a fan.

Totes. Since we’re such homebodies it is wonderful, and money well spent!

How are you getting on with Alexa?

I think Alexa is really good…

[Alexa wakes up at this point and starts playing Pink Floyd]

Alexa stop!

[Alexa goes quiet.]

…but she picks up on too many things that don’t concern her – like TV or general conversation!

Yeah, I can see how that would be annoying.

I sometimes find it difficult to remember the names and chosen phrases for all the devices we set up to get the instructions right. She’s not smart enough to infer my meaning and sometimes she can’t understand me at all!

My favourite feature of Alexa is that I can tell her to “Turn on Sleepy Time”.

What is that?

It turns off all the lights upstairs except for hubby’s bedside lamp which is dimmed to 30%. That way he has enough light to read and I can get to sleep. I used to have to rely on him to turn the lamp down!

Replacing husbands with technology. I get it.

Speaking of which, I have another husband function to replace.

Wait, what?

No, not that! Plex periodically needs fixing by hubby. There are so many quirks with it that I couldn’t really expect any visitors to be able to use it without training! It’d be great to be able to say “Alexa, turn on Plex” and to pause and resume playback without needing the remote. And for it to be reliable enough that hubby doesn’t have to reboot (or rebuild!) it so often.

Okay, so you want more integration with the rest of the house?

Yes! Once you automate some areas of the house the “dumb” ones really do appear old fashioned in contrast. I can control lights, heating, curtains and music with my voice. I can see people at the front door from anywhere on smartphone and I’ve just found out that I can turn on the hot water just by asking. One thing I still can’t do is turn the oven on without walking into the kitchen like a savage!

Given current technology we’d need to remodel the kitchen for that.


More work is needed then?


And wifey approval factor is still high?

I’d give the house a solid 9 out of 10 right now. Loads of great features with only minor niggles.

So more spending is authorised?

Wait, what?!

Excellent. Excuse me while I go and add some more things to my Amazon basket…

No really, what?!

(Sound of Add to Basket being clicked repeatedly.)