Home Automation 101

Some of you might be wondering, “What is home automation and why should I be interested in it?” You’ve come to the right place. We’re going to answer those questions for you right now.

The goal of home automation is to make your home take care of itself.

There’s a few parts to this, and some of them will be familiar to you.

First, your devices need to be controllable when you’re not physically present. You need to be able to turn devices on and off or adjust their status without standing next to them and pressing a button. This isn’t to say that physical controls are on their way out—there will always be good reasons to have physical buttons—but our devices need to be remotely controllable.

Second, our devices must to be able to be scheduled. An automated device should be able to run on its own, knowing when to start and stop. This has been available for a while with remote timers for everything from lights to sprinkler systems but it’s making its way into electronic home automation controls as well.

Third, devices need to be able to monitor and report relevant data to you. This is the point where we start to transition from traditional tools into modern home automation. Although we had timers and some remote controls, many devices could not observe data and report it to you in real time. However, as more and more devices have sensors and are wireless internet connections, the amount of data at our fingertips is impressive. We’re able to monitor our homes and make decisions about what should be done using that data. For many, this is the gateway into full-fledged home automation.

A next step is controlling multiple devices at once. The goal is home automation, not device automation. Controlling a device remotely is nice but that’s not what we’re aiming at. We want to press a button and turn off all our lights before we go to bed. It’s our house and we want to control everything more easily than we do now. Any good home automation solution has to be able to control more than one device at a time.

Finally, home automation should learn what we do and adjust things to meet our needs and schedules. We’re just starting to scratch the surface of this stuff, so we won’t spend much time on it here. It’s still a few years away from being prevalent.

A good home automation system should do at least the first four of these. It should allow you to control devices remotely, control more than one device at a time, monitor what’s going on around your house, and schedule things to happen at a certain time.

So that’s what home automation is. The next question is why should we be interested in it?

There’s a number of reasons to consider home automation. One of the first is this: it will save you money. By being able to turn down your thermostat remotely or schedule your lights and outlets to do turn off when you leave for work, you’ll save energy and money.

Also, home automation gives you peace of mind. You can create a simple home security system by adding sensors to your doors and windows and monitor what’s happening around your property. If you want, you can set up the system to send you email or in-app notifications when something happens. Security systems have always been big, complex things; home automation systems are making them easy for anyone to install and use.

And that’s another benefit: the ability to keep track of your whole house anywhere in the world. Staples Connect offers a website and mobile apps for Android, iPhone, and iPad so you can log in at any time and see what’s going on.

Home automation is the wave of the future. It’s been something that people have been dreaming of and working on as far back as the 1960s and it’s finally a reality.

Your home can now work for you. Pretty cool, huh?

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