Daugherty Passion Projects: Who Fed the Dog?

From automatic lighting to smart doorbells and even to who’s fed the dog, John Weilbacher has automated pretty much every room in his house.

As an application architect with Daugherty Business Solutions, John enjoys working with technology to solve problems.

“You don’t end up being a software engineer very long if you don’t enjoy solving problems,” he said.

At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, over the course of a week, John noticed the dog had gained two to three lbs. It turned out both he and his wife were feeding the dog in the morning. And although the dog loved the dual feedings, something needed to change.

John automated a solution inspired by surgery scheduling boards at hospitals. He considered what he had on hand – namely, buttons and speakers – and built a time tracker that could read back with the push of a button the time remaining until the next feeding. To reset the timer, it was as simple as the push of a second button.

Home automation for John began about six years ago with automatic lighting in a home theater, then quickly expanded to a smart doorbell, smart door locks and other notifications. At its core, it’s about making routine tasks easier.

Today, the Weilbachers have a “puck” in every room of the house, which contains five buttons. The up and down buttons control the lighting, and the middle button indicates whether somebody is trying to get a hold of them – whether it’s somebody at the door, one of the construction workers remodeling their basement or one of the spouses trying to contact the other. The left and right buttons are tied to specific behaviors to the room.

And every evening, John presses a button to turn off all the lights in the house and runs a check to see if any doors are open or if the garage door is up. You might say automation even helps him sleep better at night.