Smartphones and Tablets Controlling your Smart Home
Hide Harashima , Editor | Jun 22, 2014
Topic category: Smart Home Tech
Smart Homestead
New York Times

From left, the smartphone app for Xfinity Home, Belkin's WeMo light switch and the Nest thermostat.

The rise of smartphones and tablets in the past few years have allowed home automation technologies such as lighting and climate controls to become more usable and integrated into our lives. With the emergence of smartphones, controlling the smart home devices and systems can be controlled through apps. Nick Wingfield of the New York Times takes a look at some options for controlling smart systems for our homes.

The first product is Nest, the programmable thermostat that learns your family's preferences over time:

I recently installed a thermostat from Nest — a start-up founded by Tony Fadell, one of the creators of the iPod and iPhone at Apple — that is designed to learn heating preferences automatically over time so it does not have to be programmed. After a few days of noting when my family manually turned the heat down at night before bed and up in the morning, it began making those adjustments on its own. A motion sensor in the thermostat tells it if someone is home (assuming it is mounted in a high-traffic area) so it regulates a home climate more efficiently.

The writer then talks about how lighting can be used for both automation and security:

Last year, Belkin began selling WeMo, a line of products that use Wi-Fi to allow control of household devices from an app on any Apple iOS device. Lamps, space heaters and the like can be plugged into the $50 WeMo Switch, which in turn plugs into an ordinary power outlet.

From my iPhone, I was able to remotely turn a lamp off and on while away from home, and to create a schedule for lighting my house more easily than on conventional timers.

A $100 version of the switch comes with a motion sensor that can turn lights on when it detects someone occupying a room. It is even possible to use the motion sensor in conjunction with a Web service, Ifttt, to set up rules that set off an action — like sending a text message when a door is opened.

Some homeowners have much bigger ambitions of creating whole-home systems, where home automation, security and entertainment are all integrated and controllable from a single interface.

These systems, from companies like Crestron and Control4, are typically for bigger homes, require professional installation and can become very expensive. Control4 says a starter system begins at around $1,500, but bigger projects can easily jump past $5,000.

A number of national providers are also promoting home automation features aggressively as part of broader security services, which include round-the-clock monitoring for burglaries, fire and other emergencies. I’ve been bombarded for months with fliers from the cable provider Comcast for its Xfinity Home service, which it is now heavily marketing across the country.

Many more products that contol your home temperature, lighting, and a network of devices for home systems are being developed. Comment below and let us know if you plan on investing in any of these.

New York Times |Mar 27, 2013
Tags: home automation, smartphone, home systems
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