5 Great Home Improvement Apps to Make Your Home Smarter
Sure, home improvement apps and smart home technology are everywhere. However, If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you may remember the time when you had to go into the office to see the coolest new technologies. Usually it was company boardrooms and training facilities where you would walk in and find large format video playing on a projector or a fancy touch panel used to control all the lights and audio/visual equipment in the room.
Over the past several years, there’s been a massive shift in consumer access to technology. Pretty much from the time we brought home our first touch-driven mobile device, we could see it coming. However, it wasn’t until recently with the rapid growth of the Internet of Things that our mobile devices acquired the capability to become the control center of our universe. This is because our devices are now getting smarter and smarter, and with the use of behavioral data, artificial intelligence and the right application, we can control just about anything we want. If you want to create a smarter home, you just need to know about the right tools. Here are five that I recommend to make your home smart.
1. SmartThings (Free, iOS)
If you’re looking for a low-cost way to turn everything in your home into a smart device, this might be the best option for you. Starting with a kit that includes a hub and variety of sensors, you can connect everything from your refrigerator to your coffee maker, and then control and monitor them from your mobile device.
One of the coolest things about the SmartThings app is it doesn’t just allow managing a single device or a few independent devices. Like true automation should work, all these devices work together. For instance, if you leave a door open, it can alert the air conditioning unit that a door has been left open and not to continuously run to try to offset the warm outside air coming in. Of course, the sensor will also notify the homeowner that the door was left open as well.
2. DirecTV (Free, iOS, Android)
For DirectTV users, their latest app added voice control. This is a neat feature when connecting your mobile device and TV to the same network. You can issue oral commands, and the DVR will comply. You can also turn your iPad into a portable TV to watch your favorite shows on the go or set your DVR to record any show from anywhere.
3. Philips Hue (Free, iOS, Android)
Want to spice up the mood in your home? A little mood lighting can help. However, lighting control has always been expensive. However, that’s not the case any longer. With Philips Hue, you can set the tone, color and contrast of any light in the system. Even holidays like Christmas can become an easy conversion. If you have the Hue System setup with your outdoor lights, you can quickly turn them red and green with the touch of a couple of buttons on your smart device.
4. WeMo (Free, IoS, Android)
For a long time, smart devices would plug into your wall. However, the plug itself wasn’t enough for the old X10-type technology to work you needed a smart control system. That was until it was possible to connect your mobile device to your home Internet network. Now, with cool apps like WeMo — created by Belkin — you’re able to plug any device on the WeMo switch to your wall and control it from your smart device. Whether you want to be able to control turning all of your televisions off remotely, or starting your coffee maker while you catch up on the news in bed, this allows you to do it.
5. Nest (Free, iOS, Android)
With its near $1 billion acquisition, Nest is one of the most well-known home automation technologies. In fact, I’d be willing to suggest that the Nest, along with the rapid growth of smart watch purchases, has put Internet of Things on the map to the general consumer. What may be the coolest thing about the Nest is the application that controls it. Using the Nest app is so easy, and it serves as a wonderful introduction to the power of utilizing apps to control and make your home smarter.
We’ve entered an exciting time in the technology space. With mobile devices, Internet of Things and a little imagination, you can use home improvement apps to simplify your life and create the smartest home on your block. That is, until your neighbors find out!