CONSUMERWATCH: Smart-home Technology
It's become a reality for many people: turning off your lights, or setting the alarm on your security system from anywhere in the world. Manitoba home owners are adopting smart-home technology at an alarming rate. Maya Morcilla is one of them, "I'm so busy in the morning, sometimes I forget to set the alarm. I'll forget to turn off the air conditioning."
Morcilla, a mother of four can now do all that and more such as controlling the thermostat, keeping an eye on her backyard and tracking her kids' every move all from her iPhone.
"I want to make sure I know what they're doing, on my phone," explains Morcilla.
The home automation system Morcilla uses is provided by a company called Vivint. It's hooked up through a panel which also controls her security alarm. The company charges about $200 for the installation. It also involves a contract and a monthly fee.
It's not the only option out there to make life easier. K & S Security has been offering smart-home technology for two years. For $500 you get a controller, and then you decide what features you want. Sean Banks explains, "Basically it's a system you can add on forever. You can do garage doors, so if you leave your garage door open, it will send you an email, letting you know your garage door's open."
Customized smart-home companies such as K & S only offer the service on iPhones, iPads and some Android phones, not Blackberrys. It doesn't bind customers to a contract, though. So if you move all your hardware and technology move with you.
Maya says her system gives her peace of mind and that's worth every penny, "Having that feature where I can do everything from work or on my phone is so convenient," she says.
Both companies say business is growing, up 80 per cent from last year. With many more people buying smart phones, homes will only get smarter.
The Manitoba Home Builders Association says this year a number of show homes are pre-loaded with a number of home automation features built in.