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Welcome to the age of home automation — the ability to control items around the house with a simple button push or voice command. An automated home provides homeowners with comfort, security, energy efficiency and convenience, regardless of whether anyone is home.
Commonly called a “smart home,” automation delivers the ability to control appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, and security and camera systems via the Internet.
These features can also help make your home safer and more secure than ever before. Whether you're at work or on vacation, the smart home will alert you to what's going on. Security systems can also be built to provide an immense amount of help in an emergency. For example, not only would a resident be woken with notification of a fire alarm, the smart home would also unlock doors, dial the fire department and light the path to safety.
Take a look at some of the automation technologies that can add safety and security in and around your home.
Criminals prefer to strike when you’re not home. Nothing says “someone’s here” like a well-lit interior and exterior. Smart light systems make adjusting the lighting in your home easier. What’s more, many offer additional features such as motion detection or a connected camera.
If you've ever left home for the day or were drifting off to sleep and wondered whether you locked the door, smart locks offer a solution. A midrange smart lock allows you to lock and unlock doors remotely and alerts you when the door has been unlocked. Some models use a keypad and will let you assign temporary access to guests or maintenance workers. Others use geofencing to monitor your phone's location and set up a perimeter around your property and lock the door when you (and your smartphone) leave.
A smart home device can help you keep a watchful eye on your home. To monitor what's happening outside and who comes to your door, consider a WiFi video doorbell, such as the Ring Video Doorbell 2 or the Skybell HD. When placed within range of your home's WiFi network, they monitor your door and the surrounding areas to detect motion and alert you to visitors. When someone rings the doorbell or something triggers the motion detector, you can use your Alexa device to listen or your smartphone, tablet, computer or Echo Show to see the camera feed and communicate with whoever is at the door, even if you're not home.
To monitor what's happening inside, products like the Nest Cam Indoor includes both live and recorded video in crisp 1080p resolution. The camera includes motion and sound alerts, but to record video and improve alert quality, you'll need a Nest Aware subscription. With Echo devices, you can listen to audio from security cameras, and with Echo Show users can watch footage on the device's 7-inch screen.
With home automation also comes technology security risks, such as vulnerabilities to hackers.
The good news is you can prevent a hacker from invading your system several ways. First, set up strong passwords, including a custom password (not the default) to your home's WiFi network. Second, run regular app or skill updates to keep your devices from falling prey to new types of malicious attacks. Companies that are vigilant about security will release periodic updates with new security features to combat the latest cyberattacks.
Another security measure is to buy your smart devices from established manufacturers that are up front about their security and encryption policies. Strong encryption will make it difficult for anyone to intercept the signal that devices send back and forth to your router.
As more and more homes become “smart,” it is good to understand the pros and cons of new technology. Stay one step ahead of would-be burglars and intruders —knowledge is the best way to help make your home safer and more secure.
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The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved.