3/04/2013

Your Home's Best Friend - Automating Your Life Via Your IPhone




Every morning, my phone wakes me up, tells me my plans for the day, and reminds me to check in with my journal. Over the course of the day, it reminds me to eat my vegetables, warns me if it has started to rain, and alerts me that I have a bill due. One device plays a significant role in my day to day and I couldn't imagine my life without it, but it still has limitations about what it can accomplish.

However, as more people turn to their devices for day to day support, more companies are offering unique and useful ways to start filling in those limitations. The goal of easy household automation is on its way and your smartphone will be the key to making it work. While my phone can't make me breakfast yet, with all of the amazing gadgets hitting the market now, it can't be too far off:
  • Philips Hue
    Have you ever come home late in the evening and wished a light was turned on for you? Or have you ever woken up and wished that your bedroom light could be turned on for you but slowly to allow yourself to adjust? The Philips Hue takes a basic idea, controlling your lights via your phone, and makes it easy with a simple app and even simpler set-up. Working via a bridge through your home's WiFi, the Hue allows you to configure your light set-up from brightness to timing to color. You can even create lighting based on the light in your favorite photos.
  • Lockitron
    My purse is a black hole for my keys and, especially every winter and post every Target trip, I wish and hope for a simple app to unlock my door. While that was just idle daydreaming before, with the release of the Lockitron, I may never need to find my keys again. Using an app on your iPhone, the Lockitron can unlock your door automatically and alert you to anyone entering your home. Plus, set-up is as easy as placing it over your existing deadbolt so for anyone else who has dreamed of not needing to put all of your groceries down to unlock the door, our dream has become a crowd-funded reality.
  • Dropcam
    I am slightly obsessed with what my animals are doing while I'm at work. While most of the time I'm convinced that they are sleeping, other times I'm convinced that mischief is afoot. However, due to my cats love of sleeping on my laptop, depending on my webcam has never been an option. But with Dropcam, pet owners and non-pet owners who want an easy way to check in on their homes have been given a simple to set up method to view live video via app of what is going on at their home. Additionally, Dropcam can also alert you to motion detected via email or mobile alert and also can provide DVR service if you want to look back at old footage.
  • Nest
    The Nest thermostat is a great example of how a common tool can be improved and refined to be more useful, intuitive, and attractive for your household. Building on the common uses, the Nest doesn't just control your home's temperature but learns over time how to automate to your household's needs and energy usage. But in addition to that, the Nest can also be controlled via app allowing you to check in on your home and update the climate control as necessary.
  • Vera
    Many of the other tools I've spotlighted today feature easy to use and install ways of automating one part of your home. But if you are looking for something on a larger scale from raising the blinds, checking your security cameras, and even turning on your TV, there are many new products hitting the market now to achieve this. The Vera line of products is one example of these tools, allowing you to control most areas of your home via app or computer. While the effort to configure and set up might be higher, if you have ever dreamed of your home knowing when to turn up the heat because the weather says the temperature is going to drop or letting your cable guy into the house and watching him work via camera, these tools will help you achieve the future you would like to live in.

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