5 Tips for Creating a Smart House: Integrating Your Home Through Your Smartphone or Tablet
It's the latest trend, the integrated or smart home. This technology allows you to connect your home, from security cameras, locks and windows, to the thermostat and appliances. Holy George Jetson, the future is here!
But before you buy into this futuristic lifestyle, there's a few things you need to consider.
The Jetson's version of the smart home
1. Why Do You Want a Smart House?
Are you a techie? Do you travel a lot? Is it for added security when you're away from home? The reason for a smart home is where you need to begin assessing before you go shopping.
If you're an early adopter of everything new in technology, then you probably already know about the smart home and have probably already integrated it into some aspect of your home. The smart TV (internet and tablet controlled) is readily available and so is remote locks and lighting. What's coming is remote appliance control. All we need now is remote maid service!
2. Read Reviews
Before I buy anything, I always look at 5-star and 1-star reviews. Amazon is one of my favorite places to search. There's a lot of them and are less likely to be fake reviews. Another place are techie sites such as CNet. While listening to consumers is helpful, people in the industry offer insight that everyday people might not consider.
Take the iSmart system for instance. While on Amazon, the ratings are all over the board, giving the product a 3-star rating. People seem to be a bit frustrated with it's installation and use. While on CNet, the users there give it a 4-star rating, calling it excellent. You need to decide which type of user you are (high or low tech) in relation to the system you want to install and how much support you can expect.
Also, what if the power goes out? Is there a backup system?
Examples of Startup and Monthly Costs
starting at $199
starting at $99
$39/$49 per mo.
starting at $299
3. What's Your Budget
Some systems require you to purchase their security system as part of their smart house package. Some systems offer no monitoring while others require you to purchase some sort of monthly monitoring. Are you going to install the system or are you willing to pay for it? Xfinity (Comcast) offers installation packages starting at $99 and $399 with monthly monitoring required.
Non-monitored Home Security
4. Know the Risks
We all know how computer hackers have proven their ability to gain access to cellphones of celebrities including the royal family in England. Hackers have also been able to gain access to large corporation's encrypted files like in the Target debacle of Christmas 2013. But did you know that criminals might not be the only party interested in hacking into your system?
The federal government, via the NSA have proven to be untrustworthy. While I won't bore you with the details, know it is not urban legend. Here is a link from Forbes about how the NSA has been putting malware on our laptops. And here is another blog from Forbes about how the NSA is hacking into our Apple iPhones.
The NSA's program, DropoutJeep states:
“DROPOUT JEEP is a software implant for the Apple iPhone that utilizes modular mission applications to provide specific SIGINT functionality. This functionality includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted.”
Who is to say that the federal government won't tell you one day that you can't raise your thermostat above 68 degrees in winter or 78 degrees in summer? To back up this demand, they'll hack into your home and preset the temperature! Or, what if you get locked out of your home for failure to pay or do something? Not to mention those cameras inside and outside the home that can be monitored by someone other than you.
5. Be Patient...Rewards are Great
There is something about being what is known as an "early adopter" with new technology. Who didn't want to be the first to get the latest iPhone or Xbox One? With any new system, there's always the learning curve. I have a computer that runs Windows 7. If I have a problem, I can look online and find loads of help. My sister-in-law just got a new laptop that runs Windows 8 and it's completely different. We spent way longer than we needed to just to copy and then find a photo that she wanted to put into a blog. Having a smart home is no different. New technology and early adapters know that you need to bring extra patience. The good news is that once you have everything worked out, the rewards are great!
Here's some things you can do remotely:
- Control lights and thermostat
- Turn on and off appliances like the coffeemaker and oven
- Lock doors including front and garage doors
- View the inside and outside of your home
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