Would you like to be able to control your home from your smartphone? Maybe turn up your thermostat before you get home on a cold winter day, or turn off that bedroom light that you accidentally left on before you went to work? Would you like to be able to change the color of your lights at will, or glance at your phone to check whether your kid made it to school safely? How about a 24-hour alarm system that alerts emergency services any time an intruder tries to enter?
All of this is possible and more, with new smart house systems that allow you to control and monitor your home, no matter where you go.
Smart Houses are more than just “burglar alarms”
Let’s start with home security. When my family moved down south to Florida to be closer to our grandparents, we wanted to make sure we did everything we could to protect ourselves from crime. In our city of Cape Coral, residents have a 1 in 39 chance of becoming victim to a property crime. Clearly, we needed a bit more protection than the family dog, so we started looking into the kind of home security systems Cape Coral FL has available.
The new smart home protection systems include wireless alarms for all windows and doors as well as interior motion sensors designed to recognize intruders. Should an alarm be breached, emergency personnel are contacted immediately.
Smart Houses can control all facets of lighting, including the hue
As soon as we installed our wireless home security system, my husband and I began looking at more home automation services. We fell in love with Hue, the “personal wireless lighting” developed by Philips. We can turn these lights on and off from our smartphones, both from home and away — no more pesky mental worries about whether we left the lights on! We can also program our Hue bulbs to turn on as soon as our smartphone gets within a certain range of our home; as soon as we pull into the driveway, for example.
The best thing about Hue is the ability to change the lights’ colors. Turn on a bright, clear light for reading or homework, or dim the light to help you relax. You can have any combination of colors you want, from pinks to purples to blues; simply tap your smartphone and watch the lights change. Our kids love playing with the colors and turning rooms bright red or deep blue.
Let your smart thermostat keep you warm
Once we had Hue, we had to go one step further and install the popular Nest thermostat. Like Hue, this thermostat puts control right in the palm of your hand, allowing you to adjust the thermostat directly from your smartphone. Nest also learns your preferences; the thermostat’s learning function knows when you spend the most time in certain rooms of your home, and begins to automatically adjust temperatures to compensate. If you have dinner every night at 6 p.m., for example, Nest will make sure your dining room is perfectly comfortable just before dinner is served.
Keep track of the kids with GPS apps
There are many GPS apps to keep track of your kids’ activities, designed for ages preschool through high school. Our kids are still pretty young, so we use the Childtrac; just clip on the GPS device and watch from your phone as your kid moves through his or her day. On the days when my husband takes the kids to preschool and kindergarten, I can check my phone to make sure they arrived safely. Five years from now, I’ll be able to watch from a distance as they walk home with friends or go to after-school activities.
Smartphones and smart homes have improved our lives considerably, and they are likely to improve yours as well. Try one of these smart home devices and see how much fun it is to live in the future!
Sam Peters is a regular contributor.