Shabbat-observant Jews know that Friday afternoon brings a flurry of rushed activities, primarily involving turning lights on or off, setting heating and cooling systems and making sure everything is set exactly as one would like it for 25 hours. This task becomes even more complicated for Yomim Tovim.
While there are many home-service industries that provide specific types of automation services for their customers, there is a significantly smaller number of people who have spent their professional lives becoming subject-matter experts, who can answer any question one wants to know on a given topic. Yaakov Wollner is the person to talk to if you want to automate your house for Shabbat and Yom Tov.
Wollner is a computer programmer and home automation specialist originally from the Ner Yisroel community in Baltimore. In 1996 and 1997 he began experimenting with home automation programs and systems that were available. These programs could operate smart switches, and he figured out how to control appliances and lights.
“If you wrote a program that could send a command to a smart switch, and if you could schedule that command based on logic, you can set it for Shabbos. That is the concept of any automation system,” he said. However, over the course of his research he did not find a system that could fully program a house for Shabbat and Yom Tov. “Generally, I found them all to be a bigger hassle than setting Shabbos clocks,” he told The Jewish Link.
Wollner began working with an engineer, who still programs for his company today, and developed a very powerful day and date computational ability that could utilize logic based on the Jewish calendar. “No one has any scheduling system that can provide a fraction of the capabilities of what my system can do,” he said. His program has been in use now for 20 years. His software is patented and no one else has a scheduling system based on the Jewish calendar.
Autotime and its program, Time-It-Right, now control between 15,000 and 20,000 switches worldwide in customers’ homes, estates, shuls and yeshivot. “It has been a great learning process and it’s given me a lot of experience. It’s true; I can likely answer most any question anyone could ask me about automating a device for Shabbos,” he said.
“We can basically program any type of logic you want if it has to do with a Hebrew or English date,” he added. Autotime has scores of options for features and modes. For example, the system offers an option for early Shabbos in the summer; guest mode, if you want lights on later than usual since you are having guests; and options for operating guest rooms if they are occupied. These options can be activated or deactivated with a simple click or push of a button.
The system also offers powerful features like safety offs and ons to make sure your bedroom ceiling lights are not accidentally left on or to guarantee that bathroom lights are not accidentally turned off. The system has a power fail recovery feature so that if power is lost on Shabbat or Yom Tov, when power is restored, lights and appliances will still turn on and off at the correct scheduled time.
“We work with each individual customer to develop a program that is right for them based on their lifestyle and z’manim. Because the system is based on the Jewish calendar, it provides for all of the logic necessary to produce a schedule which accounts for the different needs of each Yom Tov and the complex logic required when Shabbat and Yom Tov follow each other or overlap. The system runs on a computer located in the customer’s home and can be accessed by the customer from anywhere in the world.”
It may be surprising to note that Wollner deals equally with husbands and wives when implementing the system. “It is the person who has the hassle and grief of setting lights erev Shabbos who wants the system. Whether they’re building a new house or already have the hassles in an existing home, I am solving someone’s problems,” he said. “Autotime, when installed in a home, can provide a seamless integration for all Shabbos and weekday needs, which includes control of lighting, ovens, refrigerators, heating and cooling systems, electric shades and shutters, security alarms and cameras, garden irrigation systems and more.”
“Our software is user friendly and does not require a technical person to operate, giving all our customers the option to manage their home independently, Furthermore, our staff can make modifications to your schedule as your needs change,” he said.
Wollner added that Autotime’s proprietary program, Time-It-Right, is not cookie-cutter software. “Our experienced staff meets with each customer to review their schedules and life style, and creates efficient, custom-tailored scheduling to meet their needs.”
Autotime caters to the needs of the religious community and has serviced homes, institutions and synagogues across the US, Canada and Israel. Time-It-Right was designed specifically to accommodate the Jewish Orthodox lifestyle, incorporating state-of-the-art home automation amenities with exclusive Shabbat and Yom Tov scheduling. With excellent customer service and frequent releases of feature updates, Autotime is advancing the frontier of fully integrated home automation.
Learn more and ask any questions by visiting http://www.autotimeonline.com.
By Elizabeth Kratz