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What's New in Home Automation?

Quite possibly, if you can think of something you'd like your home to do, somebody else already has, and has developed a component to tie into your home automation system.

Have the urge to use your Smartphone to remotely give the command, "Let there be light" in your kitchen? You can purchase light switches that have remotely controlled dimmers, as well as control up to eight other groups of things at the same time, such as starting the pre-readied coffeepot, or detect motion and react accordingly.

But, say, you've got just the perfect switch plate already mounted on your wall; one that coordinates with your wallpaper and you can't bear to replace it with something utilitarian. No need to fret. You can buy a component that does almost all the other functions the vanilla one does, but is connected to the wiring behind your decorative switch plate.

Hubs are available that extend the range of motion sensors inside your home and which can text you when someone is moving around in a part of the house where they ought not to be.

Find your bedroom door open when you know you closed it this morning? As we know, not all doorknobs need opposable thumbs to open, and dogs have been known to lie about not getting on your bed when you aren't home. Between motion sensors and indoor cameras, some of which resemble the 'son' of R2D2, you can easily determine whether it was your dog or something more sinister. Obviously, there is no component for a home automation system that will teach Fido to fetch your slippers quite yet, but believe it or not, there is one that can automatically feed the cat.

Should you have motorized blinds on the inside of your windows or rolling shutters on the outside, there are components that can lower and raise them by timer or by remote control command from your iPad.

There are components available that will monitor the moisture in your houseplants and water them with a drip system while you winter in Florida. When it's hot as blazes in your neighborhood and you are spending two weeks in at the beach, there are components that will test the dryness of the soil in the yard and water the vegetables using a soaker hose. Components are available that will play selected music at selected hours to your growing garden. These same components can turn the television on and off so the dog doesn't get lonely while you are gone for 10 hours out of the day.

When it comes to a home theater system connected to your home automation system, there are many possibilities. Selected scenes can trigger lights to dim and the air conditioner to crank up. Components can also turn down the volume or flash the lights if someone is ringing the doorbell, or if a catastrophe is underway, such as a kitchen fire. You can even have the home automations system alert you to which channels the kids are watching in their rooms and how long the TV has been on in. And of course, you can then turn it off as needed.

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