When Did Operation Gadget’s Focus on Home Automation Begin?

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Our house a few days after we started moving in, November 2020.

In November 2020, a number of things changed in the lives of my family. We bought a house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania that had living spaces on three different levels. Also, the HomePod mini became available from Apple.

After watching the HomePod mini announcement, which was part of Apple’s “Hi, Speed” event on October 13, 2020, I made the case to my wife Kathleen that the HomePod mini might be the ideal way to create an intercom system for our new house at a reasonable price.

The first four HomePod minis that we purchased during the pre-order period.

We ended up buying four HomePod minis during the pre-order period. We installed them in:

  1. the Recreation Room in the basement,
  2. the Living Room and
  3. the Kitchen on the ground floor, which meant that the front half and back half of the ground floor each had a smart speaker,
  4. my office, which is a small room one end of the first floor hallway.
An Apple HomePod mini installed on a bookshelf.
The HomePod mini installed in the Rec Room in the basement of the house. The intercom is a good way to reach our teen-aged sons, when they come down to this area of the house after school.

These choices turned out to be smart locations for HomePod minis whose initial purpose was as intercoms. This is because each of those locations were places in the house where one or more of us spent significant time, and it could be very difficult to communicate with people in the other three places. Mainly because you were separated by several walls or flights of stairs.

The Operation Gadget website was on hiatus during 2020. It wasn’t until January 2023 that the site was relaunched with a focus on Home Automation in the Apple Ecosystem.

However, during the intervening two years, my family and I learned so much. We built upon the initial intercom use case, first experimenting with and later implementing many Smart Home devices.

What I am doing now is documenting many of these experiences. I’m trying to make Operation Gadget into a resource that others can use to make the same kind of journey into Home Automation that we made, and are continuing to make.