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By Kim Murphy
Murphy and Murphy Southern California Realty 

Real Estate Round Up: A cautionary tale of the 'smart home'


Last updated 7/20/2018 at 1:36pm

There once was a home, named Lucille. She was friends with Alexa and Roomba and thought that life was grand. One night, when Lucille’s owners arrived home, they unlocked the front door without a key. They turned the alarm off and checked Lucille’s cameras for the days events. They spoke, and the lights and music came on. Dinner was started in the oven. Wine was perfectly chilled in the refrigerator.

They were ready for a quiet relaxed evening, when suddenly, Alexa spoke to them. Alexa suggested a new artist for the music. She suggested that they should turn the lights down. At first, they played along, but when they stopped responding to Alexa, she became angry and took control of the music, lights and thermostat.

I know this sounds farfetched, but, smart homes are equipped to do your bidding because they are listening in on your conversations, ALL THE TIME. How else could Alexa make a reservation for you, or turn on the lights? How would Roomba know that you want her to vacuum. All that data is being gathered to “help you” be more productive with your life. In other words, persuade you to do something that based on your conversations or use of the internet, you might just be casually thinking about.

Have you ever noticed that once you search for anything on the internet, every time you turn on your computer or phone, a new ad pops up to suggest a specific product that matches what you are looking for? This is the thing; those products are being promoted because they are paying to be front and center with you the consumer and they are getting their data from your personal algorithm created by you.

I’m not ragging on “smart homes” in general, but smart homes are being sold as a universal good upgrade. Smart homes began years ago when programable thermostats were introduced or with alarm systems were Wi-Fi’s to a central location. Fast forward to today, and those two items aren’t even considered smart. The newer generation of these can all be monitored and controlled from your phone.

Smart homes, because they listen to your conversation, make suggestions to you. They may alert you, even when you aren’t asking for an alert. Smart TV’s have a camera that receives and sends information. If you can “Facetime” from your Smart TV, it is doing just that. But what happens when you don’t want to be watched?

I recently heard about a friend who had a few “private” conversations with his wife about moving. They had not planned on moving, but a family dynamic now made moving a strong possibility. They had not shared this with friends or family, just each other in the privacy of their own home. They are both “techy” so had a home equipped with Alexa and a Smart TV. Shortly after their discussion, they started receiving calls asking them if they had thought about moving? Coincidence? I think not.

What’s the moral of the story? Convenience is crucial, in the fast-paced world of ours. But know that if you employ any of these smart devices, you are being watched and listened to. Smile and choose your words wisely.

If you prefer to have a “real live person” assist you if you are thinking about moving, give me a call. I promise to listen to you, give you your options and let you make all the decisions.

Kim Murphy can be reached at or (760) 415-9292 or at 130 N Main Avenue, in Fallbrook. Her broker license is #01229921, and she is on the board of directors for the California Association of Realtors.


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