Twenty years ago, if you visited a fair or exhibit that portrayed the "Home of the Future," it would likely have incorporated some of the many gadgets and applications used to power homes today. From thermostats that learn a family's preferences to a device that lets you turn off appliances remotely, today's tech-powered homes offer convenience, as well as electricity savings. Here are a few of the most popular devices on the market that can turn your home into a smart home.

1. Nest Thermostats

Perhaps one of the best-known home automation devices is Nest, which was purchased by Google in 2014. Nest's smart thermostats learn a family's schedule to adjust heating and cooling automatically. As family members manually adjust the temperature in a home over the course of several weeks, the thermostat creates a customized schedule, beginning to automatically program itself within the first week.

Nest Thermostat

In addition to its learning feature, the Nest thermostat comes with an app that allows you to program it from your mobile device. This means if you forget to adjust it before you leave for vacation, you can change it remotely, then change it to a more comfortable temperature an hour or two before returning.

2. Belkin Wemo Switch

You don't have to change all your appliances to enjoy remote connectivity to them. Belkin's Wemo Switch lets you control any item you plug into it. Purchase multiple switches for your iron, toaster, lamps, and coffee machine, and connect them to the free Wemo app. You can even name each switch for the item plugged into it.

Belkin wemo

Once an appliance is plugged into the Wemo Switch, you can turn it off or on and even put items on a schedule. The only downside is that each switch retails for $49.99, which could get pricey if you plan to connect multiple items.

3. SkyBell

This Wi-Fi-connected doorbell uses a video camera and app to show you who is at your doorstep from your mobile device. When someone presses the button, you'll receive an alert, at which point you can see the person at your door and have a conversation with them, even if you're far away from home. Thanks to a built-in motion sensor, the visitor doesn't even have to ring the doorbell to activate the app.

Skybell

Thanks to SkyBell's On-Demand feature, you can see your doorstep any time of the day, even if someone hasn't arrived there. This is ideal for keeping tabs on your home while you're away or checking to see if a package has arrived. The SkyBell provides convenience even when a homeowner is home, allowing users to respond to a visitor from the comfort of his own sofa. SkyBell is quickly the next hot smart home device. Ever since I met the SkyBell team and installed it on my door, I've been amazed.

4. Apps

Thanks to several apps, you can stretch the features of home automation products much further. Here are a few apps designed to interact with today's home automation devices.

As home automation continues to evolve, consumers will likely discover that the process will be easier and more affordable to connect the things they use every day to the Internet. Being able to control home appliances provides a new level of convenience and security that previous generations could only have imagined.

Published on: Jan 27, 2015
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