Although smart home technology has been in the works for a while, it is only recently that homeowners have started to become aware of its presence, largely due to the bevy of mobile devices that may now be used as remote controls. As soon as PCs became a permanent fixture in every home, people began tinkering with ways to link their electronics to their computer systems, and the addition of the internet and wireless technology made it even easier to use a computer to monitor and manage electronics in the home. But mobile devices, smartphones and tablets that are basically handheld computers at this point, have really changed the game. And with home security companies like Vivint and ADT making it possible to control not only your home alarm system, but also the thermostat, lighting, and even electronics in the house, it’s no surprise that home automation apps are starting to become more popular. Here are just a few you might be tempted to try in your own home.
- eKeypad M1. When it comes to systems that are designed to be user-friendly, the interface offered by this app for the iPhone may be one of the easiest to navigate. With simple headings for lighting, temperature, and alarm zones, including on/off and bypass switches, you can optimize your entire home with just a few easy taps and swipes.
- Insteon Hub. The nice thing about Insteon is that they make their own hardware and software, making it easy to put your entire system together. And once you have the hub hardware in place it’s a snap to connect electronics in your home thanks to the step-by-step setup wizard. The software itself is simple, yet smart, with the options for on/off switches as well as sliders. And it can send you alerts when electronics are activated (so you know when kids are tampering with the thermostat, for example), not to mention when sensors detect motion in the home or something more serious like a water leak.
- MobiLinc. This software offers both Lite and HD iterations, so you have a lot of choices for download, and that’s only the beginning of the options offered. It supports multiple thermostats, multiple devices, and an unlimited number of controllers. It offers password protection and allows for customization with icons, command names, and even status names. However, the screen might look a little cluttered and confusing to the average user because of all these bells and whistles. If simplicity is what you seek, this may not be the home automation app for you. But if you’re looking for something that lets you create a customized interface, then MobiLinc might be just the ticket.
- Indigo Touch. Users that prefer to view their home in a map form will appreciate the floor plan feature offered by Indigo Touch. You can tap the lights at the front entrance to turn them on before you arrive home from work in order to illuminate your path from the car to the house. Or you can hit the thermostat located in the living room to adjust the temperature. You can even create presets for “awake”, “in bed”, and “asleep” so that a simple tap is all it takes to reach optimum household settings for your current state of being.
Vivint. This home security system was one of the first to start offering comprehensive home automation systems and they’re still one of the best choices for homeowners, especially those that are keen to have a professional set up the system rather than doing it on their own. Since you’re only managing a single-family residence, you don’t need the same kind of comprehensive setup that a company might order from an industrial control direct vendor. But that doesn’t make you an expert in installing the hardware and initiating the software needed to make your home a bit smarter. So think about getting your home security and your automation from the same source and saving yourself some time and trouble in the process