We're at a tipping point with smart technology, according to Alex Hawkinson, founder and CEO of SmartThings, which aims to make your whole house smart.
"When you're home, you don't have to lift a finger," he said. "The lights will just come on and off and the climate will manage itself. It'll know when you're home or not, and act as a security system, and call your neighbor if it needs to."
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By placing a variety of sensors around your house and using your smartphone as a remote control, you can manage and monitor anything with SmartThings—adjust the temperature, turn off lights, turn on the alarm and lock your doors. The sensors can also be programmed to send you alerts, such as when moisture is detected in the basement, mail arrives in your mailbox, or the dog wanders off.
"It's humanizing the world in a way," Hawkinson said. "People do playful apps. Like, the parents are home, it's Friday night at 10 p.m., the kids are in bed, and you want the romance lighting and Barry White to come on. You can put personality and intelligence into the everyday."
Tom Coates knows something about smart houses—he's living in one. The blogger and Web entrepreneur has sensors throughout his San Francisco home, monitoring motion, temperature and even water for his plants. The house is so high-tech that it has its own Twitter handle (
@houseofcoates), but he's not sold on all smart gadgets.
"If you embed it in the device, then you can't upgrade it easily," he said. "You can't change it. Remember, fridges have a life cycle of 15 years."
Which might explain why, rather than owning a smart model, Coates has an iPad stuck to his refrigerator with magnets.
"What we're seeing is a negotiation between trying to communicate to the public about what it would mean to have more devices and appliances in their home that are connected to the Internet, and how to sell it to people," he said. "And I think the way that you sell it is different from how useful it is."
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