I built my home about two years ago, and thought I was pretty smart about the technology I built in. I ran Ethernet cable throughout the house, strategically placed power outlets to accommodate mounting televisions or hiding gear in closets, installed a whole house surge protection system and I even had all my wiring run back to a central box in my laundry room where I re-route my connections and hide my switches and boxes. I installed USB power outlets for easy device charging and motion sensors to turn on the lights when I walk in the laundry room. Still, even in two short years, I want my house to be smarter. Fortunately, there's a growing trend of smart home accessories that can help achieve this goal.
For me, the first was the Nest thermostat. An learning thermostat that would program itself based on my schedule. My Nest knows when I'm home, when I'm not and adjusts the temperature accordingly. With the newly announced APIs, Nest will soon be able to integrate with other smart appliances in the home to do even more.
With a hat tip to MacSparky, I ordered my first WeMo switch a couple of months ago. At first I didn't understand what the big deal would be about having a device at home that could be powered on and off by my iPhone or network activity triggered by IFTTT rules. But now I'm hooked. I started with a lamp in my entryway that turns on in the early morning hours and turns off at sunrise, and then turns on again at sunset and off at 10:30 p.m.. Even though I live alone, my WeMo has a light left on for me. It also provides peace of mind because even if I'm not at home, it looks like I am.
I like to sleep with white noise and have a floor fan in my bedroom. It also helps keep the bedroom cool on muggy Florida nights. But every night before I go to bed I'd have to turn it on, then schlep over to the other side of the room and turn it off each morning. (I know, I know.) So, one WeMo turned into two and I have a WeMo connected to the fan configured to turn itself on and off at certain times on various days of the week. Now I'm looking for all kinds of ways to incorporate these types of smart devices into my home.
Most of us are familiar with Rosie the Robot from Jetsons fame. How wonderful would it be to have a device handle your chores while you're not at home? Roomba vacuum cleaners have been around for a while. I tried one last year, but found the experience to still be lacking in the real world. But this technology is out there, it's only a matter of time before it's perfected.
Home security is another area of interest. The new Kevo bluetooth enabled deadbolt from Kwikset is a product I have on my Christmas list, it releases later this month and will allow you to unlock your deadbolt with a smartphone or smart keys. It's also very "normal" appearing and will fit in with your current decor. I currently have a keypad based lock from Kwikset for my garage door and love not having to fumble with keys every day, this is the next evolution. We talked about building a custom home security system on MPU 150. I've picked up a couple of wireless cameras to keep an eye on things in my house when I'm away, but they're still bulky and require AC power. One area where I'd like a camera is at the front door to monitor package delivery and see who's at the door before answering it. The DoorBot is a new product in this category that looks interesting. DoorBot ships later this year and connects to existing doorbell wiring. It will ring your doorbell, provide a notification through your smartphone or tablet and has an adjustable camera to show you who's at the door. I'm not sure I care for the design of DoorBot, it looks a little bulky, but it's a first generation product and I'm very interested to see where it goes.
In short, I'm very eager to see where his home automation trend goes in the next few years, we're just at the beginning of the innovation in this field. Smarter appliances and accessories are coming out all the time, and I can't wait to live in the home of the future.