Home Automation Do’s & Don’ts

Nest Programmable Thermostat

Home automation products have really come a long way over the past 7 years. We’ve seen it in the movies, we’ve seen it at the local home improvement store, but is it really worth the up front money? Is it going to be hard to install? I can’t figure out these new fangled tech things anyway, so why bother, right? Well there are some pretty cool, innovative and just downright handy items available today for your home to be a little more tech friendly, so let’s explore them. However, I would like to start with the big number one DON’T that you should not ignore. If you purchase home automation products do not use anything for your perimeter security. That means don’t by wireless and Bluetooth locks, at least not yet. Hacking wireless locks and BT locks have become something of a trophy for hackers, script kiddies and even thrill seekers. Don’t potentially open your own doors for these folks until the security of these specific devices can be improved.

As for the rest, there is certainly some fun and innovative products on the market to save you money and make your home more fun to live in. Let’s start with one of the better known products available and that is the Nest thermostat. Nest Protect Smoke and CO Detector Nest Programmable ThermostatThere are a couple of parts here that make this thing pretty awesome. First it “learns” your settings at time  of day, time of year, etc and ultimately improves your HVAC energy usage. It can be managed away from  home via web based and app based interfaces. The makers of the Nest have also recently offered a product  called Nest Protect, a wireless battery or AC powered smoke and CO alarm that also has voice warning and multi year battery life. This device also will send information to your smart phone, so if something is detected when you’re away from home, you’re able to respond accordingly (like call 911 or a neighbor).

There are quite a few other fun things you can do. Remote power plugs allow for you to control a wide variety of items, and the WeMo line is one of the better known products in this category. People have come up with some interesting ways to use these products, and you can check them out here.

Another line of cool things are the Phillips Hue automated lights. Now these LED lights are not your ordinary replacement bulbs. You can modify the color they produce, sync them to apps so that they blink or change color to an app response (new Facebook Like, new Gmail message, new Twitter mention or tweet to name a few). Between all of these devices, you could certainly make your home more fun, more controlled and better managed. Just remember, stay away from the perimeter security devices for now, no matter how well they sell them or they sound by reading. As a Certified Ethical Hacker, I can’t say enough about how easy those devices are to break into. If you do use these devices, make sure when you apply a password, you apply a strong password. You wouldn’t want some hacker sitting on an island in Norway blinking your lights at you would ya? Check out this video below about the Hue

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