Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs and writes for the Home Depot’s website on home electrical products. Jay’s interests include providing homeowners with up-to-date information on home security systems.
The recent convergence in technology for cell phones, home automation systems and cloud computing services has resulted in the development of amazing iPhone apps to keep your family safe.
Just about any electronic device in your home can now be interfaced to some degree with your iPhone, computer or cloud based applications. These systems have evolved into integrated products that are effective and easy to use. And fortunately, prices are coming down as technology improves. Many of the systems available today were cost prohibitive just a few short years ago.
New products range from home automation to security to GPS tracking. Whether you want to keep an eye on your family or just your home, there are iPhone applications to benefit just about anyone. In some cases, these apps may make it easier to use systems that you already own.
Here are a few innovative products and services to consider:
- Cameras – Security cameras can be installed both inside and outside your home. Images from these cameras can now be viewed remotely on your laptop, iPad or iPhone. Baby monitors can also provide both video and audio along with text message alerts.
- Door locks – Door locks that are remotely controlled can be installed on any door in the home. These can be used not only for entry doors, but also in critical areas such as gun safes or medicine cabinets. You can receive text message alerts on your iPhone when one of these locks is left open. You can also provide access to contractors or caretakers remotely. You no longer need to leave a key under the mat!
- Lighting – All of the lighting in your home can be controlled remotely from a smartphone. This can help to deter theft or improve safety. For example, designated lights both inside and outside can be turned on before you turn into your driveway.
- Temperature Control – Heating and air conditioning systems are another candidate for home automation. Use your iPhone to pre-heat or cool the house before you get home or return from vacation.
- Appliances – Many kitchen appliances can be controlled remotely. Start the coffee pot from the comfort of your bed in the morning or preheat the oven before you get home.
- Motion Detectors – Security systems can send you a text message when friends, family members or intruders enter your property.
- Audio/Video – Control your audio/video systems remotely from your iPhone. Record a show or control your children’s A/V activities when you are away.
- Tracking Devices – Key fobs of various forms can be attached to keys, valuables, pets, cars or even children’s backpacks. Some of these will enable you to find the item within your home or alert you when the device comes and goes from the premises. As with the locks, you can receive text message alerts when a predetermined event has occurred such as children getting home from school or your pet escaping from the yard. Other devices have GPS tracking capability to enable you to see the location from your smartphone. In fact, many smartphones can also be used as GPS tracking devices.
So how do you find a product that works for you?
iPhone apps are now available for many popular security and home automation systems. If you already have a system, contact your supplier or surf the web for your particular system. If you don’t yet have a system, be sure you check with your supplier before you sign a contract. If iPhone apps are not available, investigate other systems. There are plenty to choose from.
One of the stars at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was a company called SmartThings. They offer user friendly devices for many of the activities listed above and have introductory packages starting at just $199.
There are many smartphone-enabled baby monitors available at just about any price point. However, if you already have two Apple iOS devices, you can set up a handy baby monitor for just the price of the $3.99 app.
MamaBear is one GPS app that enables you to track the location of your child’s iPhone and provides handy options for monitoring and communication.
Home Automation Systems offers a good chart comparing features between some of the better home automation products for 2013. According to the chart, four of the six products reviewed have iPhone compatibility.
They also have a good comparison of popular GPS tracking devices. All but one of these can be accessed from your iPhone.
If you already use an iPhone, there’s no reason to pass up these great applications and products. They can not only help you to protect your home and family, but they can also give you peace of mind and reduce your stress level. Now what busy mom couldn’t use a little help with that?