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How to Automate Your Home with Your iPhone or iPad

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In this article, Jason R. Rich takes a look at a handful of optional products that can be used with your Apple iPhone or iPad in order to automate and control appliances, lights, the thermostat, and other devices within your home from anywhere. Plus, you’ll discover how to use your iOS device as a wireless baby monitor, home video monitoring system, or even to track the location of your dog in real-time.

If you own a television set, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a wireless remote control that’s used to change the TV’s channel or adjust the volume. When used in conjunction with various apps and third-party products, your Apple iPhone or iPad can be used as a wireless remote control—not just for your television set, but for a wide range of electrical appliances, lighting, and even to adjust the temperature in your home from anywhere your iOS device has an Internet connection.

When used with optional wireless video cameras that are available from a handful of companies, your iPhone or iPad can also be used as a baby monitor that allows you to view live video feeds remotely via the Internet, whether you want to keep an eye on your child’s nursery or keep tabs on your home (and your pets) while you’re at work.

You’re about to discover a handful of cutting-edge, yet affordable products that can be used with your iOS mobile device that allow you to automate and/or monitor various aspects of your home. For the majority of these products to function, you’ll need a wireless network set up in your home, plus your iOS mobile device will need Internet access while you’re out and about.

The Nest Home Thermostat Can Keep Your Home’s Climate Comfortable

Electronic and programmable thermostats have been around for a while. However, the Nest Learning Thermostat not only gives you full control over the device using your iPhone or iPad from anywhere (inside or outside your home), it also learns your daily route and will adjust the air conditioning or heating system in your home based on your desired temperature while you’re present, but then automatically conserve energy and help to lower your utility bills while you’re away.

Once installed in your home, the Nest thermostat learns your personal schedule and will automatically turn down the heating or cooling system while you’re away, but ensure that while you’re home, the desired temperature is maintained. However, at anytime, you can remotely adjust or re-program the device using your iPhone or iPad.

With its sleek, contemporary, and circular design, the Nest thermostat ($249.00) will fit the décor of any home, and is virtually guaranteed to lower your utility bills if it’s used properly. You can install the device in about 30 minutes or a trained professional installer can do it for you for an additional $119.00.

According to Nest Labs, the creators of the device, the average savings during its first three years of use in a single family home will be $520.00. To learn more, visit their website, or any Lowe’s Hardware Store.

Control Your Lights and Electrical Appliances with Belkin’s WeMo

Belkin has introduced a quick and easy way to automate your home and control lights and electrical appliances using your iPhone or iPad. WeMo is a line of modular, Wi-Fi-based products that transform your iOS device into a feature-packed remote control.

The WeMo Switch ($49.99 each) is a small adapter that gets plugged into a standard electrical outlet. You can then plug in any electrical device, such as a light or small appliance, into the adapter and control it from anywhere using a proprietary app on your iOS mobile device. The WeMo Switch is fully programmable, so that you can set a specific schedule from the convenience of your iPhone or iPad. The WeMo Switch + Motion ($99.99 each) offers the same functionality as the basic WeMo Switch, but includes a motion sensor that activates a plugged in device (such as a lamp) whenever motion occurs within the room.

What’s nice about this home automation system is that it’s modular and scalable. You can buy just one WeMo Switch or multiple switches and/or Switch + Motion adapters, and then place them throughout your home. Each device can be controlled separately, or they can be used in tandem in conjunction with your iOS mobile device.

The WeMo system is available from Apple Stores, Verizon Stores, or directly from the Belkin website. Setting up the system takes just minutes, as long as your home has a wireless network.

SmartHome Offers a More Elaborate Home Automation System

SmartHome has developed three do-it-yourself home automation systems, ranging in price from $385.00 to $925.00, that can be managed using your iPhone or iPad, and used to control lights, appliances, and security cameras while also continuously monitoring motion, window, and door sensors throughout your home.

Whether you’re in your home and too lazy to get up from the couch and turn on or off a light, or you’re halfway around the world on a business trip or vacation, using one of these systems, you can control lights and appliances. Or if someone enters your home, the system will alert you immediately of their presence.

Use a Wireless Camera to Transform Your iOS Device into a Baby/Pet Monitor

Several companies have developed extremely portable and wireless cameras that can stream full-color video and sound via the Internet to your iPhone or iPad. Using specialized apps, these cameras can be used as a baby monitor between the nursery and whichever room in you’re in, or they can be used to keep tabs on your infant (and their caretaker) while you’re at work.

These same devices can also function as pet monitors and allow you to watch over your pets while you’re away from home, or as an added level of security to monitor your home when you’re not there. As long as you have a wireless network, any of these cameras can be set up in minutes and begin streaming a video feed to your iOS mobile device using the Internet.

Priced at $129.95, the iZon Remote Room Monitor from Stem Innovationis an app-controlled video camera. It offers live and full-color video and accompanying audio that can be watched in real-time and/or automatically recorded and stored online using a private (password protected) online service.

The iBaby Monitor from iBaby Labs ($199.95) is another highly portable and wireless video camera that can be controlled using a proprietary iPhone/iPad app. What sets this camera apart, however, is that from your iOS device, you can control the camera’s movement remotely, and tilt it up, down, left, or right.

You can also set the camera to automatically follow the motion of whatever subject is in the room. Plus, through your iPhone or iPad, you can talk to your child remotely. The iBaby Monitor has an infrared night vision mode, so you’ll be able to see in the dark while your baby is asleep.

Full Home Security Can Be Controlled from Your iOS Mobile Device

Several well-established home security companies, including ADT, offer systems that can now be controlled remotely using an iOS mobile device. However, cable TV/Internet and VoIP service provider Xfinity (Comcast) has also launched a complete home security and automation system.

Using the Xfinity Home system, which must be professionally installed, you can remotely turn on or off the home alarm system, be alerted if someone enters your home, access a home security camera video feed, plus control your electrical appliances that are connected to the system. The service includes 24-hour monitoring of the security alarm, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, as well as the system’s window, door and motion sensors.

Xfinity Home offers three levels of security and service that are somewhat customizable. The Basic and Preferred systems are priced at $199.00, but also requires a $29.95 per month or $39.95 per month monitoring fee, respectively. The Premier plan ($499.00) requires an ongoing $49.95 per month monitoring fee. To learn more about this home security and automation system, call (855) 709-1198 or visit http://http://www.comcast.com/homesecurity/features.htm.

Using Your iPhone/iPad to Track Your Pet

The SpotLight GPS Locator ($99.99) is a small, lightweight GPS tracking device that connects to your dog’s collar. You can then track the position of your dog or cat remotely from your iOS mobile device using a specialized app. If your pet manages to get loose often, this is a quick and easy solution for tracking and finding him.

SpotLight GPS is one of several products that are available that offer remote GPS tracking capabilities using your iOS mobile device. Some, however, require a monthly monitoring fee, but offer additional features that make recovering your lost pet easier.

Your iPad or iPhone Can Control Your TV, Too

From the App Store, you’ll discover a handful of apps that can transform your iPhone or iPad into a feature-packed remote control for your television and/or home theater system. If you have a TiVo Premier DVR, for example, a specialized (and free) app is available to remotely control and program this device. While you’re away from home, use the TiVo app to schedule program recordings or look up programming schedules.

The free Remote app from Apple allows you to use your iOS mobile device to control your Apple TV or the iTunes software that’s running on your computer as you’re listening to music or watching video content, such as TV show episodes or movies.

Meanwhile, the optional L5 Remote ($59.00) is a small device that connects to your iPhone or iPad and works in conjunction with a proprietary app to serve as a programmable remote control for all of your television, stereo, and other home theater equipment.

Have More Control Over Your Life from Anywhere

Using apps, your iPhone or iPad can help you manage your contacts, to-do lists, and schedule. However, with optional accessories, your iOS mobile device will help you take control of your home, plus keep tabs of your kids or pets. The capabilities of what’s possible using these accessories is constantly evolving, yet it’s becoming increasingly more affordable to purchase and utilize them without having to be a technological genius in order to set them up and make them work.

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