What Have You (Technology) Done For Me Lately? 1

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Houzz, Snapfish, email, texting, web browsing, Linked In, computer glitches, updates and viruses. Hey, technology! You are supposed to make my life easier. Come on, help me out here.

Each day we are bombarded by technology that is supposed to make things easier, but every day we feel overwhelmed by technology complicating simple tasks. Remember when turning on the oven only required turning the temperature dial and setting the mode to bake? Not anymore. Now we get a full touchscreen with 17 buttons, 15 modes and eight post-bake modes just to bake a loaf of bread.

The great news is there are areas where technology is starting to simplify our lives. Look at today’s cars. Lock your keys in your car? Just open a mobile app and unlock the door remotely. Cold February morning? Start your car from your phone and it will be warm when you are ready to leave. The best part is we are seeing this technology on more than just top-of-the-line cars.

We are seeing this same time-saving technology coming to the home, and it’s not the Jetsons technology that we all joked about, but features that make our homes more efficient, comfortable and safe.

Simple home tasks burn time and expose us to both safety and financial risks every day.  By leveraging a black box located on your network, often referred to as a Home Controller, your home can report abnormalities so you can make adjustments before something bad happens, such as:

  • At 10 p.m., your home can text you to say a garage door is open, and even close it for you.
  • Automatically shut off the water supply when a leak is detected, then call or text you.
  • Turn off air conditioning if a window or door is left open.
  • Set your home for “away” mode, automatically adjusting thermostats, turning off technology, dimming and randomizing lights after dark so it looks like you’re home.
  • Date and time stamp the open and close of your doors, making it easy to know when your kids are not back by curfew.
  • Automatically turn on lights so you never walk into a dark home.

The Home Controller has various sensors around the home to keep constant track of the device’s state. Let’s say your kids keep forgetting to lock the basement door.  A Home Controller could monitor the time the door is unlocked, then after a certain amount of time, the door would automatically lock and send you a notification. With the expansion of these smart sensors, a system can grow and change as your needs change over time.

The real exciting technology many are adding to their home is voice management through products like Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s iWatch.  These products make accessing information and updating tasks fast and easy. You can easily look at your watch and see your garage door is open, then just tap the button to have it close automatically.

These technologies are no longer limited to just gated communities and huge homes. Companies like Savant (Savant.com) and Control4 (Control4.com) are bringing these prices down quickly, with solutions starting under $1000.  And if you are feeling handy solutions like Vera (GetVera.com) can get you many of these smart home features at an even lower price point.  The governing body for this industry, CEDIA (CEDIA.org), is a great resource to learn more and find integration companies that can help you get started.

The next time you are frustrated about walking around turning lights off, waking in the morning to an open garage door or spending 10 minutes to start your favorite Pandora station, take a look at adding “smarts” to your home.

Eric Crawford is the President and Owner of The Loop Technologies located in Boise, ID.  He is a certified technology instructor, Control4 level III certified programmer, plus carries over 15 years of experience in technology, installation, and programming.  He also is a nationwide guest speaker on business and technology and its impact in your home. He can be reached at eric@TheLoopBoise.com.