Having a house run like the Jetsons' is becoming increasingly possible: It's called home automation. If you're not familiar with the futuristic cartoon family, the Jetsons, just about everything in their house was automated. Today, we can have the following:
- Sensors that make noise when a door or window opens are nothing new, but real-time video surveillance of a home's interior and exterior, viewed remotely through a smartphone thousands of miles away, is relatively new technology.
- Controlling the temperature inside the house from anywhere outside using a phone. The smartphone connects with the thermostat's sensors that detect radio frequency signals.
- Odorless but deadly, carbon monoxide gas will be detected by a detector-and this has been around for a long time, but what's relatively new is that the detection will trigger ventilation: a head start for the home's occupants to scramble outside. Sensors can also alert to possible gas leaks.
- Recently in the news was the seven children who died in a Brooklyn, NY house fire started by a hot plate. Apparently the house had one smoke detector-in the basement-that nobody on the second floor heard when it went off while they were sleeping. The kids would have likely survived had there been multiple fire detectors to alert the residents.
- Furthermore, smoke alarms detect smoke before the fire begins and can simultaneously notify a central control center that then contacts the fire department. Seconds count.
Home automation may seem like something that only the rich can afford, but the makers of these systems want to score a big profit, so they develop systems to fit different budgets. Reputable home security companies can offer different packages and give price estimates.
Realize that there exist security scams, including the one in which an employee comes to your house unannounced, wearing a jumpsuit with the name of your security company on it, claiming that your system needs servicing. What he really wants to do is scope your house for vulnerabilities and also find out when you might not be home in the near future-so he could rob the place.