Four Hot Home Automation Solutions

by / Saturday, 25 January 2014 / Published in Personal

For decades, science fiction writers have dreamed of a home that could be automated to make its owner’s life easier. More than just four walls and a roof, these automated homes would come fully equipped with smart appliances and furnishings that could be programmed to perform needed tasks without manual human intervention. When properly applied, these technologies promise the ability to make our homes more efficient, comfortable, connected, and safer.

With more and more new home automation technologies making their way into the market every day, it’s clear that we’re closer to achieving that dream than ever before. With so much of the technology already in place, the only question that remains is which products are going to be the ones to take home automation from high-concept technical idea to something that is widely accepted and used by the mainstream market. Here are four hot products that could be some of the top contenders for that honor.

1. Nest thermostat

The Nest “learning thermostat” is already widely available at hardware stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, and the fact that the company was recently purchased by Google certainly suggests that the product is ready for prime time. The thermostat’s most unique feature is also the thing that is most likely to appeal to the mass market: by learning temperature patterns automatically and helping keep energy bills down, the Nest can quickly pay for itself, and offer returns with a minimum of effort on the homeowner’s part.

In addition to its well-known thermostat, Nest Labs has also announced a new smart smoke detector called Protect. The company’s record of success with the Nest and new partnership with Google makes it one of the hot names to watch in home automation going forward.

2. Samsung Smart Home

One of the big home automation announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 was Samsung Smart Home. Like Google, Samsung seems to be a tech giant that recognizes the nearly limitless potential of home automation technology. At CES, the company demonstrated its dedication to domesticity by adding several smart appliances to its existing line of smart devices.

One example is the company’s new connected washing machine WW9000, which promises the ability to automatically determine the best and most efficient washing program for its contents by assessing how dirty clothes are. The new washer replaces the baffling display of buttons and knobs found on traditional washers with a single touch screen, and also connects with tablets and smartphones to let users know when clothes are done—without the annoying buzzing sound.

3. LG HomeChat

Another exciting home automation announcement from CES 2014 was LG HomeChat, a service that allows users to connect with and control their home appliances using ordinary language commands sent via text message. According to the company, appliances will now be able to answer simple questions from homeowners. For instance, a refrigerator will now be able to answer the question “Do I need to buy more beer?” as if it were a person—that is, if the owner has been manually updating the refrigerator’s content records every time they add or remove beer from the fridge.

Another catch with the LG HomeChat system is that only promises the ability to interface with LG appliances. The announcement creates a differentiator for LG as a company, but the fact that a homeowner can only use it with LG appliances throws into question what impact it will really have in the market.

4. ADT Pulse

Another area where home automation technology creates important possibilities is home security. Security giant ADT has added home automation to its security systems with ADT Pulse, a new offering that promises the ability to automatically control a home security system with recurring events. For instance, if a homeowner has young children that get home from school every day at the same time, the Pulse system could be programmed to unlock the door at that time.

The system can also interface with smartphones to send event notifications and security alerts, allowing homeowners to know when emergencies happen in their home, even if they’re away. Finally, the system offers the ability to limit waste by automatically controlling lights and thermostats.