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Home Automation Trends (page 1 of 4)

Find out what's new in smart home technology.

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When’s the last time you had a good heart-to-heart talk with your house? I mean a real soul-searching, tell-it-like-it-is discussion about your needs and desires?


Too many homeowners neglect these meaningful tete-a-tetes, and as a result, they and their homes both fall into what can best be described as 20th-century ennui or, the not-so-smart home syndrome.


Chillax, help’s on the way. Today’s latest home automation systems enable your house to do everything it can to please you, from announcing that your carpets need cleaning to letting you know if your wine cellar temperature is a tad too high for your Boudreaux.


Welcome to home automation


Home automation has been around since Joseph Henry pioneered the electric doorbell in 1831. Ever since, we’ve loved the idea of having our houses do things for us, making our home environment safer, cheaper to maintain, and hopefully saving us time that could be put to good use just goofing off.


Today’s smart homes do that — and more. Technology is moving rapidly past the programmable thermostat into an era that’s best described as Jetsonian. Here’s a taste:


• Morning brings a graduated alarm that plays some of your favorite music. The volume builds slowly and the bedroom curtains gently part until you react and tell the alarm, “I’m snoozing!” In which case, the alarm quiets down for another 10 minutes of shut-eye. Meanwhile, the bathroom floors are already warming in anticipation of your arrival, and the coffee-maker starts brewing up some Italian roast. When you finally get down to breakfast, the voice of the automated home controller comes on the house speaker system to remind you to put bottles and newspapers at the end of the driveway because today is recycling pick-up.


• Later, as you leave work for the day, you press a single “coming home” keypad button on your iPhone. In response, your house turns on the outdoor lights, brings up the indoor temperature from an energy-saving 65 degrees to a welcome-home 72, powers up the spa in similar energy-wise fashion, closes the living room and bedroom drapes, feeds the Susan Tedeschi channel from your Pandora account to the outdoor speakers, and tunes the bedroom TV to the Colbert Report so you can have some laughs as you ready for the hot tub.


Other functionality? Only limited by the imagination:


• Your home emails you when your daughter gets home from school.


• While on vacation, you check your home’s security cameras via iPhone.


• Your sprinklers shut off when they sense rain.


• Your home announces — in a commanding voice — that someone has left the gate open to the pool.


• Your home knows which rooms are empty and powers off lights, music and turns down the HVAC to that area to save energy.


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