Lights, Cameras, Music and More: Controlling your Home's Communication System from Afar

8/12/2014

Maybe you've seen the AT&T television commercial that shows the older couple at a cabin when their grown children drive up. Obviously concerned that the kids had stopped by their house in town, the dad checks in remotely (via AT&T technology, of course) and can remedy what the young people left awry, turning off lights, music and even water from his rocking chair on the porch.

So . . . can you really do all that remotely? Really? Well, agree local experts, yes. Or at least almost all of it.

The questionable part, they say, would be turning off the water. All the communications systems in a house, says Ed Buday, Jr., owner of Buday's Home Electronics Simplified, can indeed be run from a single app on your mobile device. So lights, thermostats, cameras, media rooms, music and security: No problem, and getting more common all the time. But water is more involved, so that would be a lot trickier and a lot more expensive. "You would need an automated valve," says Peter Cook, who owns Automation Design + Entertainment, Inc.

Buday, who has been in the home automation business for 26 years, says that the TV ads have generated a lot of phone calls. "People want to be in control and they want the peace of mind." Since he started in the business in 1992, Cook has seen the evolution of the internet and smart devices ". . . open up the world to new possibilities." By integrating heating, air conditioning, lights, AV equipment and security systems, he says, a house becomes a "smart home." The systems in such a house talk to each other, Cook says. The thermostat knows not to turn on the air conditioning if the security system tells it no one is home.

To jump into the automation stream, the homeowner should have an idea of what he'd like to be able to do. Then the experts can pay a visit to the home, learn about any concerns, see how the family lives, and design a system.

Troy Cuvelier is systems designer and president of Integrated Smart Technologies. He says that, so long as your house and your cell phone have high speed internet, you can control almost anything that has a motor or a sensor from any place in the world. A simple box attached to the router is the foundation for whatever you want to automate, says Cuvelier. He points to another benefit of such a system: "It lets you get rid of the remote control and app clutter."

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Tags: communication