News - Smarty pants: Automating your home
Home Automation

Smarty pants: Automating your home

Automating your home today with the technology of tomorrow Your alarm goes off and jolts you out of a deep sleep. Opening one eye, you can see it’s still dark, plus you can hear rain pounding on the roof. Your warm bed is begging you to stay tucked up, especially after you’ve stuck a foot outside of the covers to feel the chill of the air. Now imagine if you could wake up to an already warm house, with your coffee brewing, a few lamps throwing soft light, your oats heating up in the microwave and the curtains being opened? No, it’s not a fabulous husband or wife or even a maid; it’s a complete home automation system, and it is within closer reach than you think. With tech giants such as Samsung and Apple about to launch their own systems, plus a number of options already on the market, should you be looking to automate your home? Brad Arthur, one of the directors at Nodal Australia, says home automation has been a long time coming. “Ideas and products have been floating around the market for almost 30 years now, but it is only recently that the average Australian has become aware that these systems are within their reach,” he explains. “The widespread use of tablets and smartphones has made it very accessible. Home automation has really come into its own.” These systems aren’t just for the rich and famous either; we are talking affordable options for the everyday Aussie family. Tempted yet? [caption id="attachment_419" align="alignnone" width="938"]Home Automation Photo courtesy of Insteon[/caption]

What is home automation?

Lights turning on and off on their own, air conditioning and heating operating independently, doors locking at night and unlocking in the morning, even kitchen appliances such as coffee machines, kettles and microwaves set to run when you want them to. Sounds good right? Home automation basically entails installing a system in your home, or an application on your smartphone that is connected to your home. These are then linked to appliances and systems in your home, such as lighting, heating/cooling, sound systems, fridges, washing machines, coffee machines, or anything else that you wish to control! Put simply, systems such as these are designed to make your life easier, says Brad. Insteon is Nodal’s home automation system, and it offers its users an improved lifestyle. “There are many things that a home automation system can offer,” he says. “They can reduce your energy costs, plus it offers comfort and convenience. It especially can have great applications for the elderly or disabled. “One useful application could be putting automatic lights in your laundry. You walk in with your hands full of washing, the light comes on by itself when you come in, and turns off when you walk out. Such a simple thing that makes a household chore easier.” [caption id="attachment_421" align="alignnone" width="938"]Home Automation Photo courtesy of Insteon[/caption]

Why automate?

Think about how many times you have forgotten to turn off your outdoor lights, or left the heater or air conditioning running when no one was home or all members of the household were asleep… A home automation system gives you insurance; it’s the guardian that turns off heaters and lights and locks doors behind you at night, but also wakes you up with the curtains opening and your coffee brewing. Heating and cooling costs usually form the most expensive part of your energy bill, so automating the turning on and off of these devices not only increases your comfort, but could potentially save you heaps of money. [caption id="attachment_420" align="alignnone" width="938"]Home Automation Photo courtesy of Insteon[/caption]

How do home automation systems work?

“Instead of living in your home, you live with your home.” Brad explains the premise of home automation perfectly – it does indeed provide a medium for your home to work with you. Whether you use a smartphone or a built in controller to program your appliances, there are a multitude of ways a home automation system might work. Some systems use an application on smartphones to connect to appliances in the home. In this case, your smartphone essentially acts as a control, allowing you to set timers on all your devices. These can even detect the location of household members by their smartphones; if the household members seem to be coming home, the system can turn on heating/air conditioning, or turn on lights or music (if only it could start cooking dinner too!), and operate swimming pool lights and other equipment. In-built home automation systems allow you to create ‘scenes’. The devices in the house are set according to each scene. For example, a ‘going to bed scene’ might cause the lights in your home to dim, the television to switch off, your bedside lamps to turn on, the heating/cooling systems to turn off and the locks in all of your doors to activate. Brad says Nodal’s Insteon system offers a mixture of these elements. “The stand out feature of the Insteon system is that it works using dual mesh technology,” he explains. “Most other home automation systems use only wires or wireless technology, whereas our system uses both so it is extremely reliable. We also have systems that can be installed easily by the home user themselves. These can then be removed and taken with the owner when they move house or the lease runs out.” So there you have it; living like the Jetsons isn’t a fantasy after all. You could be living with the convenience and comfort of tomorrow’s technology in your home today. As for me, I have my fingers crossed my home automation system will bring me breakfast in bed. [caption id="attachment_423" align="alignnone" width="938"]Home Automation Photo courtesy of Insteon[/caption] [alert style="alert-info" dismissable="false"]

Automation stations

The home automation industry is projected to grow to US$14.1 billion in worldwide revenues by 2018, according to ABI Research. Thanks to Apple’s ‘Siri’, the next major trend for our homes will be interactive voice control, with many companies finessing their systems (and ironing out any kinks). In addition, cloud-based software is also being developed that will enable home automation providers to monitor the technology inside clients’ homes and watch for digital intruders. [/alert]
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