By now, it’s very likely that you’ve at least heard about home automation and all of the new technologies associated with it. While the specific features depend entirely on what type of system you look at, the most popular systems often incorporate the automation of temperature, lighting, door locks, and security alarms. But it’s often hard to tell with these emerging technologies if they’re right for you, or if you’re just interested because it’s something hyped up and new. Let’s break down some of the major competitors in this field, what they offer, and what makes them different from each other.
As previously stated, most of the major home automation providers offer automation of lights, temperature, and home security. The Pulse system from ADT Home Security does all of this, but also has some added benefits like remote control of these functions through your phone. It also offers live video of your home (also visible through your phone), and the benefit of having their center monitoring your home along with you. In the event something does happen where you’re unable to contact someone in case of an emergency, you’ll still have ADT’s home monitoring center there to check on you and call the proper authorities if needed.
The Nest system was recently purchased by Google earlier this year for #3.2 billion. Nest started originally as a “learning thermostat” which could learn and adapt to how you adjust the temperature during certain parts of the day. For instance, if you turn the temperature down to 70 around 10 p.m. every night, it would recognize that pattern and continue to do adjust the setting for you. It also has an “auto away” function which automatically sets the temperature to the most energy-efficient temperature at that time if its motion sensors don’t notice any activity during a given period of time. Also, like the Pulse system, it can be controlled through your phone. Nest does offer a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, but the smoke alarm feature was actually recalled this week after a possible defect surfaced.
The mControl system from Embedded Automation is one of the more advanced systems. If you’re a tech geek, this is likely the system for you. It features not only light, temperature, and security controls, but also media management and data logging of events and statuses. It can connect to your iPad or phone, and control your computer, lights, thermostat, door locks, DVD player, television, and stereo.
What’s more, mControl has partnered with essentially all the big players in wireless technology like mBee, Z-Wave, X10, KNX, and Insteon. What it comes down to is that anything with an IP address or that is Wi-Fi compatible can be controlled with mControl.
The HomeSeer system is a more customizable system than some of its competitors. It has systems that can remotely control the basics such as lighting, locks, and temperature. However, it can also control things like water pumps, heaters, sprinklers, window blinds, garage doors, televisions, receivers, webcams, and even detect water leaks.
It’s an easy system to slowly build, piece by piece. You can start with a basic kit, and as time goes on, and you get more used to it, you can purchase a range of other products and gradually bring your home to a point where it is totally automated. Some of their more premium features include touch screen control centers and voice controlled automation.
The most humanitarian application of home automation technology is being developed to provide assistance for the elderly and disabled. One of the major breakthroughs of the past few years was the LifeShirt created by VivoMetrics. This shirt has complex but lightweight monitoring technology constructed directly into the fabric, which records and transmits data about a patient’s heart rate and vital signs. There are also products on the market such as as wireless pendants equipped with microphones that can be worn around a patient’s wrist or neck. Automatic pill dispensers have been developed which come with locks, and dispense the prescribed dosage at a specific time – particularly useful for patients who are suffering from severe dementia or even Alzheimer’s.
The choices when it comes to home automation are numerous, and these are only a few of the products available. More and more companies are beginning to offer home automation services or create products that are home automation compatible. Though flying cars still don’t seem to have hit the market, it does seem as if we’re getting closer to living in an episode of The Jetson’s than we even realize.
Photo from the Microsoft Office Clipart Collection
Guest Author Bio
Kate Voss is a freelance entertainment writer from Chicago who loves restoring antique furniture. Her most recent project was upcycling her mother’s old trunk to be used as a coffee table.
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