Home Automation for Everyone


One thing that we can't seem to escape anymore is home automation, I mean, who would want to? Smart phones have given normal people so much more control over their life that they've never had before. As a result, it's given the historic dwelling known as your home a chance to start catching up! Some of these have a steep price still, but as this kind of technology becomes more common place and competitive in the market, I think we'll start to see even more capable devices and lower prices. I wanted to take a look at some of the ways you can make your home a little smarter, save some time, save some money, and in some cases, gain some peace of mind. There are a lot of these devices scattered all over the internet and I didn't cover them all, but I did want to make sure I gave a nice overview, including some of the headliners and some of the more eye catching options out there.

Smart Thermostats
Programmable thermostats aren't anything new, they've actually been around for a real while, but the next wave is taking things a step further and including Wi-Fi connectivity. This allows you to monitor and control your heating and cooling from anywhere your phone will let you. Beyond basic connectivity and programming schedules, these thermostats are being built with the ability to recognize trends in your heating and make their own adjustments for you. One of our favorites we've recently looked at even allows for voice commands! Basic programmable thermostats can allow you to save some extra money on your heating bills. As you add smart phones into the mix you can make estimates at how much you're saving or just crank down the heat from the road while you're on vacation.


Features Include:
- Voice Controls
- Scheduling temperature settings
- App controls and monitoring
- Alerts 

Source: Honeywell, Nest

Smart Lighting
This is a fun area that we see a lot of interesting developments. Given you may never really feel the need for smart lighting, there are a few useful applications beyond party planning. Having the ability to control lighting dimmers or even change lighting colors away from white, might be ideal for living room settings when you're sitting down for a movie. A more useful application is controlling your lights while you're away from home, setting up schedules so any onlookers can only assume you're still home instead of moving in for a closer look at your empty house! The best part is there are a lot of options as these areas are pushed, even making the smart light switch, so you can keep your existing lighting.

LifxBelkin WeMoBelkin WeMo

Features Include:
- Brightness settings
- Color settings
- Scheduling on/off activity
- App controls and monitoring 

Source: Lifx, Belkin

Smart Cooking
Yes, you read that right, smart cooking! We've seen a few options, but they keep getting more and more impressive. The first was QBox, the smart smoker! This smart smoker would let you schedule when your food would be ready from your smart phone, so that you didn't have to waste your day checking on it! Their kickstarter never came to fulfillment, but we felt like they still deserved some recognition for the incredible idea. Another we've seen is Mellow, a Sious-Vide machine that can cook a variety of foods for you. It can't mix or apply coatings, but it can maintain your food and cook it so that it'll be ready on whatever schedule you want, and just like everything else, this can all be done from your smart phone, saving your time, and making life all that much easier. Another that's coming is a smart Crock-Pot from Belkin, this one hasn't been released just yet, but it shows the growing interest in home automation at all levels.

qbox smokerMellow sous-vide MachineMellow sous-vide MachineBelkin WeMo

Features Include:
- Maintaining food at specific temps
- Scheduling cook times based on finish times
- App controls and monitoring 

Source: QBox Smoker, Mellow, Belkin

Home Security
This has a number of branches, so I want to cover all of them since this is one of the biggest areas that people really push for that control and re-assurance.

Home Surveillance - Not a new concept at all, but now there are a wide variety of home security setups coming straight to your smart phone. We recently covered one of these setups from LaView. The benefit to these is that you can setup the recording so that everything is automated. You can then pull up live feeds from your smart phone at any time or be notified when motion is detected. Whether you're super security conscious or just need to keep an eye on the kids while you step away for a moment, this is an incredible tool to have at your disposal.


Features Include:
- Night/Day capable cameras
- Automatic recording based on schedules or motion activation
- Record or take photos from app
- Activity Alerts
- App controls and monitoring 

Source: LaView

Smart Locks - This one is another favorite. Wi-Fi enabled smart locks that hopefully these aren't easy to hack! The idea behind most of these locks is that you can create new pass codes, see when people enter your home, or simply unlock your door with one tap of your smart phone. These typically fit in the standard mounting space provided for your locks and are extremely convenient when compared to making new keys for occupants and giving guests and easy way to get in and out.

Kwikset KevoKwikset Kevo

Features Include:
- Keyless entry with key fob or app
- Manual controls with key in event of power failure
- Allowing entry to others on temporary basis
- App controls and monitoring

Source: Kwikset

Smart Doorbells - If the smart locks weren't enough, then a smart doorbell should definitely do it! Complete with motion detection and a video camera/mic, you can screen all who might want to come inside without having to get up to peek out the door. If you're bored you can always pull up the camera, even if no one is around and with night vision capable cameras, there isn't much that you shouldn't be able to do.


Features Include:
- Audio/Video communication via app
- App alerts doorbell activity
- App controls and monitoring 

Source: Doorbot, Skybell

Smart Outlets
Just a little while ago, we covered USB Power Outlets, but that's nothing compared to outlets that you can control and monitor with your smart phone. You can automate your old dumb devices with this method of just cutting the power. For those concerned with home efficiency, you can monitor power usage to see where you're doing your worst and best.

LevitonBelkin WeMoValta

Features Include:
- Gives "smart" controls to "dumb" devices
- Scheduling on/off activity
- App controls and monitoring

Source: Leviton, Belkin, Valta

Smart Hub
This one starts to seem like a no-brainer by the end... Everything we've touched on so far is controlled by their own individual apps, which can get a bit congested as you may imagine. There are a few devices just starting to pop up that work over your home network that simply work as a hub for all of your smart devices. This means that one app can control all of your devices instead of jumping into 10 different apps as you move from room to room.


Features Include:
- Bridges many home devices into one location for controls
- App controls and monitoring

Source: Revolv

So what's next? Are you in favor of home automation or does exposing your home and habbits to the internet still seem a bit too much to apporach? Do you like the time saving or money saving features that some of these offer or do you have a hard time getting over the prices of some of these and know that humans can always do it better? Let us know what you think!

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