What Smart Home Technology Looked Like in the 1980s

Smart home technology isn’t perfect (as anyone who owns an Amazon Echo that’s been activated by an episode of South Park knows), but it’s come a long way since the 1980s. In that era, the idea of controlling your appliances through a single, computerized hub sounded like science fiction. The reality, as the video below shows, was a lot less glamorous.

As Sploid reports, the YouTube page Lazy Game Reviews recently tested two early smart home systems to see how they stack up against modern devices. The first, the Pico Electronics X-10 Powerhouse from the 1980s, allowed owners to use their IBM home computer as a control center. It communicated with devices like lights via a 120kHz signal burst sent through the home’s power lines. That meant if the wiring in someone’s house wasn’t in great shape, their X-10 may not have worked as promised. It also meant that if they shared an electrical system with a neighbor who also owned an X-10, their appliances would likely turn off and on without warning as well. Despite being about 30 years old, the product can still be used in homes today. Users just need to get comfy with navigating the ancient interface and not being able to dim their LED lights.

The second system tested by Lazy Game Reviews was the HAL 2000 from the 1990s. As is the case with newer technology like Google Home, it operated through voice control technology. But the way it functioned would likely make you feel a lot more forgiving of your own home assistant. If you decided to have a conversation with someone in front of HAL, you risked it taking your chit-chat to mean all sorts of unwanted commands. Fortunately, most of the kinks that made life more of a nightmare for home owners instead of making it easier have been worked out of today's smart home technology.

Check out the two retro systems in action in the video below.

[h/t Sploid]

Thursday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Guitar Kits, Memory-Foam Pillows, and Smartwatches

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As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 3. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Connect Your Nintendo Switch Audio to Wireless Headphones With This Bluetooth Adapter

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One of the top gifts this holiday season is the Nintendo Switch ($300), and playing it with others is one of the safest ways to connect this year. You can make game time even more social with this Bluetooth adapter that can connect your Switch, smartphone, and wireless headphones simultaneously. That means you can listen to music, Switch audio, and even chat while you play. And through December 5, you can get it for just $36.54 with the code DEC15 at checkout.

The adapter works with a simple two-button design that houses the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology and an advanced DSP algorithm to combine audio from your Switch and smartphone to stream wirelessly to your headphones or speakers.

The product earned itself a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, with reviewers saying, “The HomeSpot Bluetooth Adapter Pro is a must-have accessory for the Nintendo Switch” and, “I just ordered air pods for traveling and now I can listen to my Switch and/or whatever music or podcast I want all at the same time!”

The HomeSpot Bluetooth Audio Adapter Pro has five intuitive indicators that show operation at a glance. All of that functionality is housed in a pretty low-profile design that fits seamlessly with the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Lite. The set comes with one adapter, one USB-C to USB-A converter, and a pouch for storage.

For a limited time, the HomeSpot Bluetooth Audio Adapter Pro is 14 percent off at a final price of $43. It's the perfect gift to keep your pals connected after a year of Zoom fatigue.

Prices subject to change.

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