From Smartphone to Smart Home


We've all done it.  You're running late.  You barely had time to get your morning coffee or your breakfast, and you're out the door in a blur.  Driving to work, you can't help but the shake the feeling that you're forgetting something.  No, you turned off the coffee maker, so that can't be it.  You check your pants.  Yup, you've got them.  So, this isn't a dream.  But what are you forgetting?  You pull into work, and as you walk into the building, it hits you.  You forgot to lock your door!  But now what do you do?  You're already dangerously close to being late to work, plus, you're already here.  You can't go back. Your panic fades and you smile.  You grab your smartphone, pull up an app, and with a single tap, your door at home is locked and secure.

Technology like this used to be considered science fiction.  It was touted in ads with bubble houses as a part of the "home of the future."  While we may not have everything we were promised (flying cars and home cleaning robots), we are very close to that home.  More than that, we can control these home systems from our smartphones, a device we carry with us every day and fits neatly in our pockets.

While home automation is just starting to take off, we are still a ways away from the touted homes of the future.  What we aren't far away from, however, is being able to monitor and control certain aspects of our homes from apps on our phones.

Nest Thermostat and Protect

The first one is Nest, and while it's not truly a home automation solution, it's affordable, and a step in the right direction for bringing affordable home automation to everyone.  Nest started out as a thermostat replacement for your home.  It's a smart thermostat, that you can control via the companion app on you phone, and it learns your heating and cooling habits to automate, and save you money by automatically adjusting your thermostat.

Recently, they've expanded their offering, and they now have a smart smoke detector and CO alarm, the Nest Protect.  Just like the thermostat, this device is connected to your Wi-Fi and the Nest companion app.  If the alarm goes off, it will tell you what room, and what the cause is.

ADT Pulse

This next system is a little closer to full home automation, and it combines home security as well. ADT Pulse is a system that monitors your home, through security cameras and sensors.  Through the app, you can check the cameras, lock and unlock your doors, and even receive a text message or email alerts when, for instance, a door is opened.  You can also track energy consumption of your home and appliances.

It also provides basic automation and monitoring of small appliances, lights, and your thermostat.  You can remotely turn your house lights on or off, as well as adjusting your thermostat.  If you're planning a vacation, you can program your lights to turn off or on at set times, to give the impression that your house is not empty.  It combines the convenience of basic home automation with the security of constantly being aware of the state of your house, through a fantastic app.  There is a monthly service fee associated with ADT.

WeMo

WeMo, by Belkin, is more akin to Nest.  You purchase kits or sensors, and you can add on as much, or as little as you want.  This lets you build the home automation system that suits your needs.  You can turn your lights on or off, adjust the thermostat, view web cameras, and even start dinner with a connected crockpot.

While you might pay for more WeMo upfront than ADT Pulse, you can build up your home automation system as you want.  Through the app, you are still provided with benefits like energy monitoring, and you can control your lights individually, or as a group.  Like Nest, it is a little more basic in what if offers, but it's still an affordable way to start automating your home, and it's an easy to use app.

Smart Homes are an App Away

This is just a small group of apps and services that are available.  But, it shows you that there are a variety of options for however you want to automate your home.  Whether you are interested in something basic, more advanced, or easily tailored to your needs, there are plenty of options for you to pick from.  It's your home, so why not customize the home automation experience that you want with the app that you want?