Some people immediately get that the iPad can become the controller for an automation system, allowing them to control not only their audio/video gear but also their lights, HVAC, security, and irrigation systems. Then, when you explain that the iPad’s Internet connectivity plus automation equals being able to control your system from anywhere in the world, it’s like watching fireworks of possibility exploding.
Besides the expected reasons why you might want to contact your home via iPad — say, turning lights on before you arrive late at night or preparing the spa after a long day or cueing your Barry White playlist before returning from “date night” — here are four sound arguments why you might want your home to contact you.
Sure, with a remotely accessible thermostat, you could personally monitor the temperature and humidity in your combo wine/cigar/rare documents room or check that a faulty A/C compressor isn’t creating a localized Ice Age. But that’s time you could be using your iPad for something else, like playing Angry Birds or watching the latest installment of “Will It Blend?” Imagine how much better it would be if your home sent you an e-mail any time the temperature or humidity exceeded a certain limit. If the temperature rises or plummets several degrees, you could head off possible problems before they become major situations. Sure, you can still check in for a little manual reassurance, but why not let a way more capable — and less homicidal — HAL9000 do it for you?
Between hot-water heaters, ice makers, plumbing lines, and storms that could break windows, the potential for water damage is very real. You never hear stories about pipes bursting when the homeowner was right there to stop it. Oh, no! Pipes wait until you’re deep into your vacation before bursting to inflict maximum damage. Strategically placed water sensors could notify you immediately of a problem — and even cut off the water flow entering into your home — to ensure you don’t come home to your own version of Titanic.
If you have regular visits from housekeepers, pet sitters, or repair people, your home could send you a little message every time an entry door is opened. That’s nice. Even nicer is coupling this with a smart door lock like Kwikset’s Smart Connect. Giving each person a unique access code can send a specific message to let you know when they’ve arrived and left. “I know you said you walked Snoopy for an hour, but my home says you got here at 1 p.m. and left at 1:15, and now I have a pile of ‘I didn’t get my walk!’ on the carpet!”
Whether it’s being notified that your kids made it home safely from school or just knowing exactly how late that date ran, a smart home can keep you in the know. Beyond that, with sensors measuring current draw from devices, your home could send you an e-tattle letting you know if they’re, say, playing Call of Duty 4 instead of working on homework. Doubtless this case of fighting technology fire with fire will make you the coolest parent around (wink)!
John Sciacca began his career as a custom installer in 1998 at Custom Theater and Audio in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where he still works. He's still trying to figure out how to get the members of his family to turn the lights off when they're actually in the house, let alone from hundreds of miles away.
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