Tech Tips

How Home Automation Can Make Life Better

When baby monitors started adding video feeds several years ago, parents got a glimpse into a different part of their child’s life. But nothing fundamentally changed about how we interacted due to the advance in technology. But today’s smart home technology is on the verge of changing the way we live in some substantial ways.

Here are a few ways, the connected home is making life easier for the whole family:

Motion-Sensitive Lights
Many office environments have relied on motion switches for years, and now many products are available for the home. No more yelling at the kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room!

The Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion is a an excellent option for dipping your toe into home lighting automation.

Location-Based Alerts and Actions
Just as you can use location reminders on your smartphone, you can use location alerts for items around the house. Attach a proximity detector to your child’s backpack, and you can get an alert when he or she comes home from school in the afternoon. Put one on your own key ring, and you’ll not only be able to find your keys, but also raise the garage door and turn on the hall lights as you’re driving up.

The SmartSense Presence Sensor  notifies you of an object’s location. When combined with other SmartThings compatible devices, the sensor can trigger additional actions including turing lights on and unlocking/locking doors.

Automated Efficiency and Safety 
Yes, now you can get an alert on your phone if one of the kids leaves the fridge door open. Or when the washing machine is finished…or if you have moisture issues in your house.

When you’re making decisions about smart home devices, pay attention to which products work together. You don’t want to end up with a half-dozen apps controlling different devices and alerts if you can get them all done with one integrated system.

Questions to ask:

• Can the app for your system or smart home product control the technology from anywhere, or just when you’re at home?
• What protocol does the system or device use? Popular protocols include InsteonZ-Waveand ZigBee, though some products may communicate in other ways. Make sure your devices can talk to each other.
• Can you install the products yourself? Many systems and products today are plug-and-play or are designed to be installed by a do-it-yourselfer. Make sure you feel comfortable with the instructions or know where to go for help.
• How do you make sure the system is secure from hackers? PC Magazine offers suggestionson how best to keep your system from being hacked.

Smart home technology will continue to improve, but many products on the market right now will go a long way toward making your life (and your kids’ lives!) a little more frictionless.

As for us, we’re still hoping for the app that can pick up the kids’ rooms.

For more smart home resources, visit these sites:

What is home automation and how do I get started? by

Smart Home Automation FAQs for Beginners by

Smart Ideas for the Connected Home by