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1930’s Debut at the World’s Fairs Chicago and NYC

In 2012, the estimated value of the home-automation market was around $3.6 billion

Home automation takes the mundane, day-to-day activities involved in managing your home and leaves them to a computer, freeing you up to kick back and relax. Once a staple of science fiction fantasies and luxury homes, over the past decade home automation has become a realistic option for the average homeowner.

You have probably already automated your home at one time or another without even thinking about it. For instance, you may have used an analog timer to program a lamp to turn on or off at set times when you’re on vacation, or even to control holiday lighting. The same sort of dial-timer is also commonly used to schedule sprinkler systems.

One of the easiest ways to get started in the smart home is to upgrade from this classic, but comparatively clunky and tough-to-use timer to a smart plug, like the $50  Belkin WeMo Switch (£35 in the UK, AU$58 in Australia). The Belkin WeMo Switch is a pretty significant step up from the old-school analog timer, but it isn’t difficult to set up or use.

It takes the same basic scheduling feature, but also gives you control on your phone or tablet. Not only that, but Belkin WeMo Switches aren’t limited to lamps. You can plug in pretty much any small appliance you want — an iron, a space heater, a fan, a coffee maker — and, if you can’t remember if you turned your iron off before you headed out to work for the day, you only have to check the app and press “off” on the digital power button.

Setting it up is easy, too. Download the Belkin WeMo app on your Android or iOS device, open it up, and select Belkin WeMo Switch/Motion (the motion portion isn’t relevant here). Plug in the WeMo Switch, open your phone’s settings, select the WeMo Wi-Fi network, return to the app, enter in your personal Wi-Fi details and you’re ready to plug something into the Switch, create schedules for it and, if needed, turn it on or off from anywhere with the app (as long as your phone has a Wi-Fi or cellular connection).

Look for the Amazon Echo/Alexa and Google Home devices.
Beware though, once you start using these, there is no going back….  ;- )

Lights

Today’s home automation systems make it easy for you to use your smartphone or tablet to control the lights in your home. You can switch on your lights and set them to an appropriate brightness, all while you’re away or lounging on your couch.

Locks and security systems

A home automation system will allow you to check—and change, if necessary—the status of your locks and security system remotely. Also, many systems allow remote monitoring of your home security cameras.

Entertainment systems

Some home automation systems also integrate entertainment. Set your TV’s recording schedule, manage your stored programs, and decide where to watch them, all from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Temperature and indoor climate

Use your home automation app to raise the temperature in the house a few degrees so you can stay comfy. Not only will you feel more comfortable, but you’ll also enjoy the pleasure of a lower energy bill.