Control Your Home Electronics With Your Cell Phone
In this day of remote-everything, it isn't unusual to see products that allow you to control your home while you're out. From security system to room-by-room lighting, you can pretty much control every square inch of your house from the other side of the globe.
It's called making your house a "Smart Home". It can cost thousands of dollars. But the internet driven technology allows access the electronic and security grid of your home from the Swiss Alps to the California coast. When it comes to remote control, Smart Homes are at the top.
Closer to the bottom of that hill, but still very useful, is the wide variety of remote-controlled "On-Off" switches. They don't really make your house any smarter, but they do make it a bit easier to live in. They operate on radio signals (Radio Frequency - RF). Such common applications as cordless phones, garage door openers and light switches have been using RF technology for decades. The switches have limited range (about 100 feet), but they allow flexibility and convenience in using a single product or electrical outlet. Like the lamp in the hallway you turn on when you get home each night. They only cost a few dollars, as opposed to thousands of dollars.
Welcome To WeMo
Coupling the low-cost convenience of RF switches with the global access of the Smart Home technology, California-based Belkin USA has come up with a nifty line of products that use a free iPhone app to control home electronics from anywhere. You can get a lot closer to a Smart Home at a fraction of the cost. Turn stuff on or off, and even schedule on/off times. And you can do it from anywhere you can get a cell phone signal.
The key to this expanded capability is WeMo (WeMoVEMENT). Cute name, huh? Using your home's existing Wi-Fi, anything that plugs into an electrical outlet can be controlled with a WeMo switch. It's a simple matter of plugging the switch into the outlet you want to control. A free, downloadable app syncs your iPhone or iPad up to the switch, basically the same way a Bluetooth device syncs up to you phone. Once done, you can turn on that light in the hallway from your car before you go inside.
The WeMo switch retails for about $50, and is available on Amazon, Apple and numerous retailers including Target and BestBuy.
WeMo Isn't Just A Light Switch
Once you get your switch synced up, you can put the internet to work for you. If your iPhone can access it, you can incorporate it into your switch. For example, using the official Weather Channel time for when the sun goes down each day, you could have that light in your hallway go on each day at sunset. There are even "Recipes" for how users have customized WeMo using Facebook, Twitter and various internet sites.
The WeMo product line is more than just on/off switches. Belkin also has a motion sensor and a baby monitor that use the same technology and can be coupled with other WeMo products. For example, using the switch and motion sensor combo, your WeMo can text you when the baby wakes up, or when your cat uses the litter box.
You may not be able to lay down a couple of grand to make your house a Smart Home, but for only a few hundred you can take a big step towards it.
You can see many of the Belkin products here on Amazon.