Science-fiction books and movies have fed the American public's fascination with technology for generations. Fifty years ago, we were dumbstruck by the Picturephone Bell demonstrated at the World's Fair, and we couldn't even fathom the notion of wireless communications and computers, let alone pocket computers.
Today, instantaneous multimedia communication is part of everyday life thanks to smartphones, and ultra-thin video "walls" that were once props in Sci-Fi movies are now commonplace.
All of which brings us to the marvels of modern home automation - the stuff of dreams from a quaint world we once knew.
Lighting control systems are a staple of today's automated home, allowing you to create preset "moods" for different occasions or have lights turn on automatically when you walk into a room.
You can turn on lights from your smartphone as you walk up the driveway, and press one button to turn off every light in the house when it's time for bed - or on if you hear a noise in the middle of the night and need to head downstairs to check things out.
You've probably heard of thermostats that can be monitored and controlled via a smartphone app, but how about a thermostat that adapts to your temperature preferences or one that knows you're on your way home from work and notches up the heat (or AC)? Both are not only possible but readily available.
The most lavish (and cutting edge) examples of modern home automation involve motorization. Here are just a few of the possibilities:
- Remote-controlled TV mounts - Great for TVs in multi-purpose media rooms or for screens mounted above fireplaces, so-called articulating wall mounts let you pull the screen away from the wall and tilt and swivel it into perfect position. Add motorization, and you can do all that without leaving the couch; with some mounts you can even create one-touch presets that position the TV just the way you like it.
- Disappearing TVs - Or maybe you'd just rather have the TV "disappear" when it's not in use. No problem. A number of companies make motorized mechanisms designed to conceal a TV (or projector) in the wall, ceiling, floor or even a piece of furniture. Press a button and the screen (or projector) ascends/descends into position - or goes back into hiding.
- Magic blinds and shades - Remote-controlled window treatments are another staple of today's automated home. Besides being super convenient, motorized blinds and shades can reduce energy consumption by automatically letting the sun in or out during different seasons and preset times of the day.
No, we're not talking about the ubiquitous hand-held remote (which, by the way, will be going the way of the phone booth sooner than you think). Rather, we're talking about smartphone apps that enable you to monitor and control virtually anything in your house from wherever you happen to be.
We're talking lights, AV entertainment systems, doors (lock and unlock), temperature, security cameras and sensors - even appliances. Whirlpool offers an app for its line of Wi-Fi- connected washers, dryers, refrigerators and dishwashers so you track energy usage, manage wash and dry cycles, and receive alerts when a load of wash is ready or when it's time to replace a filter.
You're probably thinking, what's next - biometric (fingerprint) access to our homes? As a matter of fact, you can get that now…
Visit CEDIA's Inspiration Gallery for real-world examples of home automation in action, and consult a CEDIA professional to learn more about these and other home automation options. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.