March 10, 2013

10 Smart Home Technologies Made for the iPhone


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via Gadget Review by Christen Costa on 3/6/13

Very creative and innovative companies are producing some amazing smart home technologies that can be controlled with the iPhone. This is making the iPhone the goto hub for control over many of the processes in the home. Here are 10 smart home technologies you can use with the iPhone.

1. Nest, Smart thermostat

It wasn't too many years ago that programmable thermostats entered the market and many homeowners got excited until they realized they were extremely complicated to master. Luckily these thermostats have evolved and are more intuitive than ever. Smart thermostats on the market today can be controlled through your iPhone settings making HVAC control in the home simple and efficient. Nest has been getting an extreme amount of buzz in the media due to its simplicity and effectiveness. Using this device to control the thermostat settings in the home with your iPhone and the device itself is saving homeowners up to 30% on their HVAC cost. Nest is priced at $250.

2. Lockitron, Keyless entry using your phone

Lockitron is making your door lock smart and giving control to your iPhone. The device is $180. Locking and unlocking the door with the traditional key is slowly but steadily being replaced with automated locking mechanisms. iPhones can now be partnered with locking devices like Lockitron to give you full remote door lock control. Lockitron has tons of features including bluetooth technology so when you get close to the door with your phone the door simply unlocks automatically. Security is a breeze because the Lockitron app simply tweets or messages you when the door is opened. If the device malfunctions don't worry you can still use a key to unlock the door.

3. Phillips Hue, LED lighting

Phillips is selling home LED bulbs that make automated lighting a cinch. You can pick up a starter pack of 3 LED connected bulbs for $299 from the App store. Once you screw these lights in and download the iPhone app you will be able to fully control the brightness, color, and even program timers into the settings. Late for work? Program the lights to turn red at specific times to warn you of impending doom. Typical LED bulbs have the potential to last for 10-20 years and use 1/6th of the energy a traditional bulb uses.

4. WeMo Switch, Automate your wall sockets

Use your iPhone to automate any outlet or appliance in your home with a Wi-Fi-enabled Belkin WeMo home automation switch, $50. You plug the switch into the outlet and then plug the appliance into the new WeMo switch. The switch connects to your existing WiFi router and then allows full control through an app on your iPhone. It is still relatively new to the market and early reports suggest that it takes a little effort to install and operate, but once the learning curve has been reached it's easy and effective.

5. Philips In.Sight, Wireless Home Monitoring

Keep a watchful eye on your home with Philips In.Sight M100D/37 dual pack security cameras. These easy to install and use cameras are wireless and can be monitored from your iPhone or iPad. The price tag is $229 making them a very reasonable security camera purchase considering the amount of features you get. Push alerts tell you when noise or motion is detected and then you can tune in to see whats happening from anywhere on your iPhone. If you need more than just two cameras the app can display up to 16 cameras. In case you miss the action on your device all the recordings are uploaded to a private Dropbox account so you will never miss a beat.

6. Samsung T9000, Smart Refrigerator

This Samsung fridge is a behemoth. It is a four door refrigerator with a 32 cubic feet (722 liter) storage capacity. It was debuted at the 2013 CES show and consumers are already clawing to get their hands on one. This smart refrigerator comes with a 10 inch pre-installed tablet that can talk to your smartphone. You can inventory food items and receive updates to your iPhone if you need more eggs, for example. This technology comes with a hefty price tag of over $4000, but there is no shortage of interest in smart refrigerators like this.

7. Sonos, Wireless Home Audio

Start your Sonos HiFi stereo system by connecting the Bridge ($129) into your wireless router. Then choose a Sonos wireless speaker(s) to play your tunes. The speakers range from small to big with a few interesting options thrown in the mix, like the PLAYBAR ($699). The sound quality of the PLAYBAR is an epic 9 speaker system with tweeters, speakers, and amps. Once you have those two devices installed simply connect your iPhone to the system and play anything you want from your library, TV, or online streaming audio. Connect multiple speakers in the home and stream wireless audio anywhere.

8. GE Nucleus, Connected Home Manager

If you're sick of paying high utility bills because you're wasting energy, but don't know exactly how you can trim back on energy usage then try tracking your energy with your iPhone. The GE Nucleus plugs into the wall, connects to the smart meter, and feeds you a "near" real time energy consumption readout. The app allows full power usage reports and even appliance control from your iPhone. The price tag for the meter is around $150. Contact your power company to get started. Staying out of the top-tier categories can save you 5% to 15% on your electrical bill every month.

9. Pintofeed, Automatic Pet Feeder

Reserve Pintofeed for just $129 to take iPhone control of your pet feeding schedule. Being at work and worrying that your dog or cat is not being fed properly is a concern of all pet owners. Luckily there are apps that allow you to control the device which feeds your pet. You will be able to set a feeding schedule, or feed your pet on demand. In addition you'll be able to see what's going on with the built-in security camera to get live video of the feeding situation.

10. MyDoorOpener, Garage door control has created a garage door opener for the iPhone and it works if you are willing to get your DIY hands dirty. The app is $5.99 in the App Store. There is also a list of independent parts you will need to purchase to make this work. Home WiFi, All-in-one Arduino Ethernet ($30), and DFRobot Relay Shield for Arduino ($15). Follow the configuration instructions on the website and contact the App creator if you need assistance. In a matter of minutes you will have full iPhone control over the garage door without purchasing a new device with the iPhone control you crave.

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