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A smart home is only a touch away

7:46 AM, Dec 15, 2012   |    comments
(Photo: Lisa Monteagudo)
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Today, we're seeing the emergence of a true smart home. Modern security systems are utilizing smartphone mobile apps to give owners remote access to alarm systems and 24/7 video streams from their property. And unlike the Hollywood script, which portrayed the futuristic house as a conscious (and eventually domineering) being, this new technology puts homeowners in total control.

Alarm.com offers users the ability to arm or disarm their systems remotely, watch live and recorded video streams, change thermostat settings, lock or unlock doors, and access a searchable history of alarm events.

The ADT Pulse system has comparable features. Customizable for the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and other mobile devices, Pulse can send users text and video alerts and integrates seamlessly with an already existing ADT security system.

Parents can watch their kids getting home via a live stream from their front door. If there's a leak in the basement, the app will immediately notify owners through notifications pushed to their iPhone. The app will have you covered if your teenager opens the liquor cabinet, if your gardener forgets to close the garage, or if your pet escapes from the backyard.

Though the apps themselves are free to download, prices for the systems vary according to the breadth of the package and the individual dealer. Basic ADT security systems start at around $47 monthly, not including equipment

and installation charges. Adding more features like real-time video and small appliance control will increase the monthly costs.

Because prices vary by plans and locations, customers should check with their local dealers.

Besides the security functions, the apps can also save money by helping homeowners track and adjust settings for heating and air conditioning.

Other smartphone-enhanced security systems are available from Comcast, AT&T and Logitech.

The biggest danger of using a smartphone to monitor home security is the possibility that someone else will gain access to the apps if your phone is lost or stolen. That's why security companies are encouraging users to add an extra layer of protection to their phone with a special code or lock screen.

SMART APPS

ADT:

Access your home via Z-Wave™ technology.

Alarm.com:

Remote arm/disarm.

AT&T:

All digital, IP-based.

(Copyright © 2012 USA TODAY)

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