Off to CES Next Month

I’m looking forward to going to CES – the Consumer Electronics Show – in Las Vegas next month. It will be my first time there; I had to make sure I did the planning needed to make it happen. I plan to look closely at home automation and AI because both will play growing roles in our lives.

We already have a lot going on. I was an early adapter of Doorbot, which we now know as Ring. It’s the camera system that works in conjunction with your doorbell and smartphone to let you know who’s at your front door. You can talk with the people at the door whether you’re in the next room or the next country. When I installed Doorbot, it paid immediate dividends when I could tell delivery people where to leave packages. It helped me serve my clients better.

As Ring, the product has evolved into a security camera. With a wide field of vision, it can activate as soon as someone gets near your home and take a clear picture of everyone at your door. It’s also instantaneous. With a standard alarm system, any thief knows he has 5 to 10 minutes before the police respond. Now, you have a way to identify the person. You can use it in conjunction with other camera systems to see who’s there, and you can use it along with electronic door locks that you can remotely control to let someone into your house.

We have more automated systems in our homes. Nest is the first one you think of when it comes to having a thermostat that you can set or change through an Internet connection, and there are all sorts of lighting systems that you can automate or reset.

We’ve added Google Home, and it can do searches – just like Siri, Alexa and Amazon Echo – and turn on lights in various rooms in the house to light the way without having to turn on switches. If your hands are full, it’s more than a convenience. More systems likely will come to market that analyze movements in your house and either reset HVAC or lighting as you need them or let you know what’s happening in your house while you’re away. We have all these systems today, but AI will tie them together to give you faster access and coordinated control from a single device.

I’m also interested in seeing what’s new for cars. It’s only a matter of time until cars become driverless; we’re likely to see driverless trucks a lot faster. Driverless vehicles will be the ultimate in AI as a consumer application, and we make great strides toward that every year. More and more cars have a variety of systems to analyze a car’s position and traffic conditions to warn you or take a programmed action – such as apply the brakes. What will be the next steps in the home automation/AI arena?

We’ll let you know what we find out. In the meantime, if you have any questions about systems installed in your home or car that you control from a device, we urge you to make sure you have changed all the default usernames and passwords that came with them. That’s crucial to keeping outsiders from entering and controlling your space. If you need help in configuring or reconfiguring your systems to maximize their performance and security, we’re there for you. Just call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us. And be sure to read Network Strength and Costs.

Cool Remote Control Capabilities

Did you know you can answer your doorbell from anywhere in the world? It’s one of the many cool things you can do by remote control over the Internet. Once you look past the “coolness factor,” you’ll find that some of the latest remote control capabilities have a lot of practicality.

Many homes now have universal remotes that you can control wirelessly over Wi-Fi networks. While universal remotes are not new, you can easily program today’s units through pre-packaged settings for many of the most popular home electronics. They can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,500, and the more sophisticated ones have some comprehensive control systems for just about any entertainment system in your house. If using your mobile devices is more to your liking, you can find a variety of apps for any operating system.

In addition to entertainment systems, you can install interfaces to turn lights on and off, regulate thermostats, lock and unlock doors and do a lot of other things. Security companies and telephone/cable providers offer a number of systems, which you can combine with video systems. You’ve likely seen them advertised on TV. It’s all pretty “gee whiz” when you stop to think about it, but in today’s world, systems like these enable you to better control access to your home and your utility bills.

They can help in other ways, too.

We recently installed a new doorbell in our home that allows us to answer a ring through our cell phones – from anywhere in the world, of course. It recently came in handy, when FedEx showed up with something we had ordered to install at one of our clients the next day.

With nobody home, I was able to talk to the delivery man through the speaker in the doorbell system and arrange for him to leave the package at our home. Had we not been able to do that, we would not have been able to complete the scheduled service for our client. That incident alone made the doorbell a good investment for us.

Other applications are being tested for use with automotive vehicles. They’ll allow you to use your phone to lock and unlock doors and check the mileage on your odometer, the amount of gasoline in your tank and the date of your last oil change. You can also set off the alarm – from anywhere in the world.

All of this good stuff, however, requires two things.

First, you need to have a stable Wi-Fi network in your home. Whatever you choose to use, you’ll be adding another device to your network. If you’re adding something for your home entertainment, you want to make sure you’ll enjoy whatever you’re watching or listening to. If it has something to do with your home operations and/or security, you can’t afford a network glitch.

Second, make sure your network and your devices are secure. If you don’t have strong access security for your network or lose your device, someone could unlock your door and get into your home. That point needs no elaboration.

We’re more than happy to answer questions or help you set up remote devices and universal remote control systems. Just give us a call – 973-433-6676 – or shoot us an email.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.