Options Expand for Smart Home
In today’s busy world, the idea of a smart home can be very appealing. Wouldn’t it be great to have some home functions happen automatically? Being alerted to what’s going on in your home also seems like a timesaver.
While the idea of the smart home has been around for a long time, it has also been slow to take hold. But recent solutions hitting the market are taking smart-home technology mainstream, and perhaps making it easier to buy and install your own home automation system.
Today, you can purchase a connected-home system at your local home improvement warehouse. Lowe’s Companies, www.lowes.com, recently began selling its Iris system. First announced back in January at CES, Iris is a cloud-based smart home solution that allows homeowners to monitor and control their homes remotely. With a smartphone, tablet, or computer, users can be in control of their home systems from anywhere.
The Iris Hub and platform were developed by AlertMe, www.alertme.com, a smart-home technology company in the U.K. Currently, consumers can choose from three different starter kits. Iris Safe & Secure provides motion and contact sensors that watch over the home and can trigger alerts when they sense events—such as a child arriving home from school. Iris Comfort & Control provides a remotely programmable thermostat as well as a smart plug to remotely control devices in the home and report back on their energy use.
Iris Smart Kit combines the features of the two other kits. In total, this kit includes an Iris Hub, a motion sensor, a smart plug, a key pad, a range extender, a smart thermostat and two window, door, and cabinet sensors.
Lowe’s says Iris can be installed by the homeowner, and the basic level of monitoring service is free. The basic level includes text alerts when alarms are triggered, remote control of devices, and access to remote video streaming from cameras. A premium service with additional alerts and programming options is available for $9.99 per month
Home improvement retailers aren’t the only ones who want in on the smart home trend. Comcast, www.comcast.com, is also providing smart home systems, and the company continues to expand the reach of its Xfinity Home services. Most recently, Comcast announced the launch of the service in the Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe County areas of Florida.
Originally known as Xfinity Home Security, Xfinity Home provides homeowners with security features, such as police and fire alarms connected to round-the-clock monitoring, along with remote control of digital thermostats, lighting, and video cameras.
For instance, homeowners can watch streaming video of their home, or receive email or text alerts when doors open or close, or when motion detectors report activity inside or outside the home. Using a mobile app, they can remotely turn lights on and off if they will be away.
Network operators have also announced their own connected-home systems, so consumers interested in the technology have a lot of options. A more automated home seems to be within reach for homeowners.