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A Currently Automated Population: Orthodox Jewish Families

In 2007, Allison Woodruff, Sally Augustin, and Brooke Foucault studied 20 American Orthodox Jewish families and their uses for Home Automation on the Sabbath. During the Sabbath, Orthodox Jewish families are spiritually prohibited from partaking in activities where their body exhibits an influential force, such as manually turning on a stove, or opening the blinds. The goal for this weekly restraint is to allow oneself to remain in a state of reflection. These families make full use of home automation services, timers, and schedule software to automate their homes, allowing them to meet their spiritual needs while still maintaining a household. Prior to automation software, families would have to leave their lights and other necessary appliances on during the Sabbath, an alternative far more wasteful of energy. Placing lights and appliances on timers allow these families to adhere to their spiritual needs, while still living comfortably within their homes.


Enhancing the enjoyment of life and making things easier is the main purpose of home automation, and with automation technology continuously advancing, Orthodox Jewish families now have access to even better automation technology that naturally integrates into their lives. Most of the families interviewed for this study installed automation systems intending to use them only on the Sabbath, but many families began using them the rest of the week out of convenience.


There are many factors families take into consideration when purchasing home automation systems. The Sabbath offers a unique opportunity for manufacturers and sellers of home automation to look at a unique application, where users are potentially automating actions that would normally not be considered for automation devices. Technology is becoming more available and affordable, so user’s no longer have to install full home systems. Instead, families can be selective and choose to automate the things in their home they need most. There are also many available means to automate that do not require hard wiring a device into the home’s electrical system, meaning Orthodox Jewish families who rent their homes are able to use automation devices on the Sabbath that they can bring with them when they move.


Home automation has proven that it has the capability to greatly enhance the lives and lifestyles of users, not just with completing large, everyday tasks, but by addressing the basic needs of the modern household. By providing users with customization and the ability to accomplish small tasks, automation devices allow Orthodox Jewish families to rely on automation during the Sabbath.

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