“Smart” Technology Adds Value and Convenience

2013-10-05T10:30:00Z “Smart” Technology Adds Value and ConvenienceMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 05, 2013 10:30 am  • 

Does Apple’s Siri remind you of anything?

If you were a fan of the Jetsons back in the day (Hanna-Barbera’s animated sitcom originally aired in primetime from 1962-63), using Siri is reminiscent of George’s talking watch - and the Internet with Skype or FaceTime gives us the same experience as his videophone – make a call and see a face.

Half a century later, there are many things that haven’t translated into our every day lives from the show’s groundbreaking original 24 episodes – like Rosie, the Jetsons’ do-it-all robot, riding in a flying car, traveling through pneumatic tubes or having food instantly show up warm and ready at the press of a button.

But, there are other advancements like Siri, Skype and FaceTime that more or less mirror the Jestsons world of 2062. Someone was paying close attention to much more than the cartoon’s story line and a bowl of cereal on Saturday mornings in the late 60s and early 70s.

Technology advancements have made it far more affordable to make home automation a reality for nearly everyone. When you consider both the potential for energy savings and lifestyle improvements, it makes investing in a smart home a smart idea.

We now have smart thermostats that save energy and reduce household operation costs by heating and cooling only as needed, with access through a computer, smart phone or tablet no matter where you are.

Smart door locks use individual entry codes to let you control who comes and goes, no matter where you are. You can program the locks and set up controls on your computer and cell phone with different codes for family members, friends, relatives, guests and repair people as needed.

A smart hot-water heater customizes and remembers shower temperatures for everyone in your family.

You can even water the lawn when nobody's home by installing a programmable irrigation system.

Using a remote-controlled home maintenance system that hooks into your cable or DSL service via a broadband router, you can control lighting from any room in the house, your car, or even from your cell phone and any computer.

You can also attach it to pipes so you can tell if they’re in danger of freezing and remote temperature sensors that monitor your home for extreme conditions and notify you via telephone or e-mail of power failure, water leaks and changes in humidity.

Indoor and outdoor security cameras can be checked from anywhere.

In general, smart-home systems start around $2,000 and can honestly reach more than $1 million. They offer homeowners options for everything from remote-controlled lighting, window shades, swimming pools, door locks, thermostats and security cameras to state-of-the-art sound systems and home theaters.

Today's smart homes typically include a central system that allows you to press a single button and get lights in multiple rooms to dim, brighten or turn on or off for supper, movie night or other daily activities. You can even program in your home's longitude and latitude so the system knows exactly when sunrise and sunset occur throughout the year, turning lights on or off accordingly.

Computerized thermostats allow you to turn the heat or air conditioning on when you're heading home from the office or an out-of-town trip. These systems can also shut off the heat or air if someone accidentally leaves a door to the outside open.

Pool and spa controls let you crank up the water temperature via your smartphone when you’re on the way home and would like to enjoy a comfortable swim.

Burglar alarms will call your smartphone if there's an intruder, allowing you to view remotely whatever your security cameras are seeing. Need to let the cable guy in but can’t take time off of work? Providing a single-access code to your front door takes care of that problem.

There are even sensors that can be placed in your refrigerator so you know how much milk is left, with the capability to send an e-mail when it’s time to buy more.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any buttons or sensors that will set the table, prepare dinner and clean everything up yet, but there is hope for the future.

What ever you want to call it, home automation, advanced home control or a smart home, a home that’s fully automated and “wired” for the future is one of the top desired features in the luxury home market now, right after open floor plans. That’s a pretty good indicator of what’s to come in the not so distant future for the mainstream real estate market as technology advancements, new innovations and competition make all this and more available and affordable.

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