"Smart" Homes

Technology is advancing more rapidly than a speeding train. In 1946, Dick Tracy used his smartwatch to communicate with headquarters and we considered it pure fantasy. Today wrist watch computers are a reality, linking to your smartphone to view texts, emails, Facebook or Twitter updates. Judy Jetson touched a few buttons to cook dinner in the 1962 cartoon depiction of a futuristic family living in 2062. Today dinner can be microwaved with the push of a button and be ready in five minutes. In Star Trek, a replicator was used to synthesize meals on demand. Who knows if that will be on the market tomorrow?
Wireless technology is making it possible for homeowners to use interfaces like their smartphones or iPads to monitor and control the technology in their homes. Once wired or connected wirelessly into a central data center in the home, systems including climate control, security, lighting, home appliances, audio-visual systems, even healthcare and assisted living systems can be monitored from any room in the house, inside or outside, or from any outside location. The homeowner can customize the system to include as much of his technology as he wants—set light levels for entertaining, close blinds at specific times of the day, turn on or off outside lights. Have trouble with cell phone reception in some areas of the home? Technology can tie the smartphone into the home’s landline so that reception is as good as the landline anywhere in the house.
This technology is not just a new toy (let’s face it—it’s the ultimate remote for men!). These systems let you monitor when your kids come home from school, whether or not you turned off the stove, if the baby is still sleeping in the nursery, if the garage door is closed or the front door locked. You can even get alerts when the garage door opens and closes, turn on lights if you are coming home late at night, adjust thermostat controls while away, close window shades, unlock the door to let in guests or service people. Video streaming, email/text/voice alerts, and spoken commands are also available for these systems.
Ideas of home automation and embedded control systems first began to gain ground in 1998 and have grown in quantum leaps ever since. According to a new research report, the number of new smart home installations reached over two million in 2013, an increase of 66% from the previous year, and the number of installations is expected to increase to over 12 million by 2017. Home buyers of all age groups for whom technology is basic to their business and social lives are asking about smart homes. Cost is not a prohibitive issue if they want the technology bad enough. The added convenience to their lives is the deciding factor! By New Homes & Ideas- Barbara Hobbs

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