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Smart Housing for Traditional Jews

An observant Jew is allowed to do very little work during the Sabbath. For example, turning on a light switch is not allowed. But it is perfectly legitimate to ask someone else to do it, particularly if the other person isn't Jewish.

Modern smart housing (such as the Signature system that I've been working on) incorporates plenty of functionality. For example, the motherboards in the touch screens will probably be normal PC motherboards with soundcards (including microphone in). Appliances (such as lights and airconditioning) are fly-by-wire, so that they can be turned on remotely for you -- before you leave for the day, you set the airconditioning to come on at 5:30pm, so that when you get home at 6:00pm the temperature will be right. Finally, smart houses have internet connections.

So, when such a unit is sold to an observant Jew, it should automatically turn on the microphone reception on Friday afternoon at sunset and use voice-over-IP technology to forward any sound it hears to a control center somewhere else. (Better would be a little speech recognition system so that it only sent relevant conversations -- an easy-to-distinguish word might be a good cue.) At the control center, a person is paid to make whatever changes are required, by logging in over the internet back to the person's apartment and using the fly-by-wire infrastructure. The pricing for this need not be very expensive, as one person could probably handle tens of apartments, and it is only needed one day per week.

One small problem is that of language. It is likely that the clients might only speak Hebrew. An easy solution to this is to set up two control centers several time zones before and after the location you wish to service, staff them with Hebrew speakers and operate them in non-Sabbath hours. For example, to service Israel, two good control center locations would be New Zealand and Hawaii. Sunset at 7:00pm on Friday in Israel would be early on Friday morning in Hawaii. It would be well into Saturday morning in Israel before the Sabbath started in Hawaii, by which time it will be close to finishing in New Zealand.