This is what state-of-the-art home automation looked like in 1985

Despite the fact that they’re only starting to gain steam now, home automation systems have been around for decades. Sure, they weren’t as sleek, intuitive, and easy to install as they are now, but you’d be surprised at how sophisticated they were back in the ’80s.

1985HA11Case in point: the Home Manager from now-defunct company Unity Systems. This badboy was first brought to our attention in 2014 when avboden, a Reddit user, posted images to imgur of his system. It not only controls a wide variety of different subsystems but also comes equipped with a fully functional touchscreen interface — on a CRT monitor! Earlier this month, a YouTube user, also going by the name Avboden, uploaded a video showing the same system, which was created in 1985 but installed in his home in 1990, in action.

As you can see in the video, the system can control the house’s outlets and switches, security system, sprinklers, HVAC, the temperature in different zones of the house, and much more. With the ability to set different temperatures for different times of the day, it actually has similarity to a lot of today’s systems. It likely would have been much more expensive to install back then, though. And while it’s not available on a smartphone, it appears to offer lots of functionality, from setting schedules for lights to linking up different parts of the system. Plus it’s controlled by touchscreen! “It’s a pretty good UI,” says Avboden in the video.

We did some digging, and it turns out that although Unity Systems closed its doors in 1999, there’s still a live support website for Home Manager up and running to serve the roughly 7,500 homeowners who have these systems installed in their houses.

[images via avboden]

Product Review

From tables to porches, Ring's Stick Up Cam watches wherever you want

Ring’s latest home security camera offers more versatility than ever before, with the ability to mount it, set it on a table, or put it inside or outside. We got a chance to test it out. Here’s how it went.
Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.
Smart Home

Abode Systems taps HelloTech for professional security system installations

Abode Systems has been expanding into the smart home security market and will enhance its technology with a new partnership with tech support firm HelloTech, which will install its security systems for a fee.
Smart Home

Have Siri control your home with the best devices that work with Apple HomeKit

Though they've been slow to trickle out, the list of HomeKit smart home products continues to grow and will only continue to do so now that the HomePod is available. Here's a list of the best Apple HomeKit-compatible devices.
Smart Home

Want to publish your own Alexa skill? Here's how to do it

Building new Alexa skills has never been easier! Thanks to Alexa Blueprints, you can pick a template and create any kind of Alexa skill you want. What new skill will you make first? Here's how to do it.
Smart Home

Let a robot do your chores! Here are the best robot vacuums for 2019

Robot vacuums are a convenient way to tidy up your home and minimize your weekly to-do list. From a top-of-the-line model to a handy budget option, here are the best robot vacuums you can buy right now.
Smart Home

Samsung washing machine recall results in $6.55M class-action settlement

Samsung settled a class action lawsuit involving more than 30 top-loading washing machine models for $6.55 million. The suit alleged the machine tops could detach and explode. Original owners may qualify for refunds and cash settlements.
Smart Home

At KBIS 2019, LG brings its biggest lineup of Amazon Dash-equipped appliances

LG announced ahead of KBIS 2019 that its entire line of dishwashers and laundry appliances will now come pre-integrated with Amazon Dash, the online retailer's popular automatic replenishment program.
Emerging Tech

Words are so 2018. The Peeqo robot speaks exclusively in GIFs and video clips

Move over, Amazon Echo! Peeqo is a cute robot that will answer your spoken word questions by displaying a specially selected short video or GIF. Because, you know, it’s the year 2019.
Smart Home

Google Home and Amazon Alexa are asking smart home device makers for user info

Google and Amazon want to establish a "continuous flow" of information between their servers and your smart home devices, but companies like Logitech have begun to speak out for user privacy.
Smart Home

Language barrier? Psh. Here's how to make your Google Home an ace translator

You can now use interpreter mode on your Google Home devices. This means, you can use your Google Home device to translate conversations in real-time. Here's how to use interpreter mode.
Smart Home

Ring adds color night vision to wired security devices and HDR to wireless ones

Ring rolled out color night vision to its wired security products with cameras such as the Spotlight Cam Wired. At the same time, Ring added HDR control to its battery-powered security devices including the Video Doorbell 2.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Smart Home

Check out the largest pools in the world - and how you can get there

From Egypt to Singapore to California, here's a pictorial breakdown of some of the biggest and largest pools in the world. Many of these pools are so big that you can even kayak and windsurf on them.