Remember watching The Jetsons as a kid and imagining how cool it would be to have a robot maid or a machine that made your favorite meal appear at the push of a button? We might not have flying cars yet (believe it or not, they’re in the works) or conveyor belts in the home and office, but with Roombas, flat-screen TVs, and monitors that let you video chat with loved ones, we enjoy a lot of the technology featured on this space age, children’s television program (in some cases, we’ve gone far beyond what the creators imagined). And when it comes to living in an automated house, the average homeowner doesn’t even have to rely on professional installation anymore. If you want to control your lighting, thermostat, door locks, and more with your smartphone or tablet, you can easily do so. Here are just a few home automation hacks to try on your own.
- It doesn’t get much better than plugging in an inexpensive device that links up to your home WiFi network and lets you monitor and control electronic devices in your home. Okay, so it’s not going to work with every electronic device, and it will obviously work better with other Belkin products (from small appliances like coffee makers and crockpots to lighting and webcams), but with the right setup in place you can get remote alerts (via smartphone) related to just about anything electronic in your home, as well as turn things on and off and create settings that start your coffee brewing each morning or turn on your lighting and temperature preferences when you arrive home each night.
- Raspberry Pi. Ostensibly an educational tool for children, this tiny home computer also has the ability to turn your home into an automated dream. It may take some doing on your part to figure out how to connect it to both your home electronics and your smartphone, but the end result will be the ability to turn electronic devices on and off remotely. And with technology that’s designed for use by children, even tech noobs should be able to work it out.
- If you want to do more than flip a light switch with your smartphone, the hardware and programming from VeraLite offers you the ability to optimize energy usage in addition to giving you remote control of electronic systems and products in your home. Control lights, thermostats, security, and over 750 different kinds of smart products with this inexpensive and easy-to-use option.
- This tech is not for the faint of heart, and it’s really not for users that aren’t computer savvy. But if you feel confident learning to program your own automated home system, this product allows you to write in your own codes, set up sensors so that you can monitor and control electronics in your home, and create all kinds of interactive projects in the meantime. Again, this is one for homeowners that feel more comfortable experimenting with their home hacks.
- Piper. Want to keep an eye on your home when you’re not there? It can be easily accomplished with a system like Piper that includes both cameras and software that links to your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Whether you want to keep an eye on wayward teens, you’ve got a new puppy that you want to monitor, or you’re worried about break-ins, this tech can help you feel safe and secure when you’re away from your home. And you can set it up to alert you when doors are opened, rooms are entered, and so on. You can even customize it to work with other electrical systems in the home (lights, appliances, etc.). If you’re looking for a system that can automate your home and offer monitoring at the same time, all-inclusive systems like this an easy way to go.