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The August keyless entry system for the home.

Next Generation of Keyless Entry Systems

Keyless entry may not be futuristic, but the next generation of systems is taking convenience to another level.

Meet August, a newcomer on the scene. Designed by the same genius who brought us the Bluetooth-connected Jawbone systems, August is a wireless, keyless locking system for your door that opens through your cellphone. The locking mechanism itself is battery operated, so if your power or wireless go down, the August is still up and running.

With the August in place and the App running on your smartphone, the system can "sense" your presence and will auto-unlock. You can create temporary or permanent access for friends, family and visitors by simply extending them an invitation using the App -- the duration of their access is entirely up to you. So whether you have a contractor coming for the day or an in-law for the weekend, you can grant access over the phone and not have to worry about being there to open the door.

August will also log all events and send push notifications to your phone in real time so you can keep track of the comings and goings of those you've given access to.

Maybe best of all, August allows you to use a traditional key to unlock the mechanism, too -- just for those who want that added peace of mind.

August will go on sale later this year and will retail for $199.

What are your thoughts on August?

How much would you pay for a monthly remote monitoring service?

Comcast Expands Home Control Solution

Launched first in Maryland last month, Comcast's Xfinity Home service has now expanded to include the Washington D.C. and Virginia markets.

Comcast customers will recognize the Xfinity brand, but many don't (yet) know what their Xfinity Home service is all about.

The coveted fourth service in a quadruple bundle (the triple including cable, voice and internet), Xfinity Home brings traditional home security components like police and fire alarm protection to the home, as well as remote control over digital thermostats, lights and live streaming security video.

The service also comes with the Xfinity Home app, which is available for free download from the Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play for Android.

Check out details of the service at the Xfinity Home section of the company's website. Introductory service is set to cost around $39.95 per month.

Would you pay for this service?

Keep your home safe and secure with the new Comcast Xfinity Home service.

Comcast Launches Xfinity Home

Another cable service provider has launched a remote home monitoring service. This time it's Comcast, extending its Xfinity product into the home security realm.

For as low as $39.95 a month, Comcast customers can subscribe to the Xfinity Home Preferred Package, which will enable 24/7 professional monitoring as well as the ability to remotely adjust digital thermostats, turn lights on and off and watch live stream video from wireless cameras when away.

Comcast also has an Xfinity Home app, which is free and available on Apple's iTunes App Store.

Xfnity Home customers can also create personalized settings to have emails or text alerts sent with doors open or close or motion detectors report activity inside or outside the home.

Sounds like pretty standard fare for this kind of service, but its still nice to see one of the bigger providers offering it. Would you subscribe to Comcast's new service?

See the system at work in the video below.

Verizon to Test FiOS-driven Home Control System

Are you a Verizon FiOS customer? If so, be on the lookout for a Home Control service option in the near future. Verizon just announced they will be starting a pilot program in New Jersey for their Home Monitoring and Control service, which does exactly what the name implies: enables remote home monitoring and control of the home's lighting and heating systems as well as select appliances.

Don't let the hype fool you: this kind of control has been available for years, and Verizon is not the first cable/phone/internet provider to roll this kind of service in with their existing bundled offerings. But it will be interesting to see if customers catch on with the possibilities and get wowed by the expected advertisements touting lighting-fast home control over the fiber.

I'm not knocking Verizon or this new service. In fact, it may help speed along the widespread adoption of home control and home monitoring. Consumers are more likely to try out a new service from a trusted and established service provider, especially when the accessories that must accompany the service (switches, energy readers, thermostats, door and window locks, motion sensors, security cameras, etc.) will be provided up front. No word on what the rental fee for all the devices will come to, but renting the equipment as opposed to buying it (as you do a satellite antenna, DVR, modem) is yet another reason why this method of getting home control into more homes across the country may actually work.

Want to see the Verizon Home Monitoring and Control system at work? Check out their video:

The Rovio is a home surveillance robot that can be monitored from any remote location with an Internet connection. For more information about this robot, visit robodance.com. Photo courtesy of Robert Oschler.

Robot Invasion

Are you worried about your home when you head out of town for Thanksgiving later this week? Are you concerned that light timers, locks, and alarmed windows aren't going to stop burglars from breaking into your house Home Alone-style?

Instead of leaving your dog behind to chase off any prospective home invaders, you might want to invest in a guard robot.

Think it's out of your price range? Think again. This New York Times article explains that recently, homeowners have been purchasing toy robots for as low as $110. The toys are intended for kids to use to spy on their siblings. But the adults who buy them have been slightly modifying them so that they're more effective as home monitors. From anywhere with an Internet connection, homeowners can prowl the house with the robot, checking on the cats and making sure nothing is amiss.

Would you purchase a toy robot to defend your home this holiday season?

Families with surveillance cameras will never again have to wonder who trampled the tulips.

Surveillance Cameras

Have you ever suspected your neighbors of trampling your flowers or knocking over your mailbox? Maybe you've known, deep in your gut, that the culprit was grumpy old Mr. Jones or the bratty kids who live down the block. But you can't prove that they did it, and so you have to prop your mailbox back up, mourn the untimely death of your tulips, and hope that next time, you'll catch them red-handed.

It's been this way in suburbia for decades. But according to a recent New York Times article, times are changing. Surveillance equipment is becoming steadily cheaper, which means that ordinary families are now able to buy cameras to catch culprits. According to the article, families made only 20 percent of surveillance equipment purchases five years ago; now, they're responsible for 50 percent of purchases.

Some of the homeowners interviewed in the article used surveillance equipment to catch their neighbors dumping dog feces on their lawns, vandalizing their cars, and stealing recyclables and laundry detergent from their basement. Tell us: have you ever caught a neighbor red-handed, or caught a crime on camera? Are you planning to get on board with this trend and install surveillance equipment on your property, or do you trust your neighbors to leave your home and yard alone?

Schlage LiNK Featured in new iPhone Commercial


No, this is not an endorsement for the iPhone (although I have one and must say I enjoy it fully, with the exception of the dropped calls).

Rather, this is clarification on the last App used in the commercial. Schlage wants it clear to all that the App being used is part of the Schlage LiNK System package, a remote monitoring system that utilizes Z-Wave technology and Z-wave enabled components to grant homeowners remote access to lighting, heating and security aspects of the home.

To control systems in your home you'll need Z-wave control devices (thermostats, lighting modules, etc.), and to remotely monitor door and lock usage you'll need a Schlage LiNK lock. From an internet-enabled laptop or phone (or through the iPhone App) you can remotely set up temporary access codes for guests and check to see who has come in through the front door--a cool feature for worried parents with latchkey kids.

Of course, remote monitoring and home control is nothing new, but it's nice to see it a little more streamlined and accessible.

Back in MY day, when the family took a trip and someone left the living room lights on, we'd have to turn around and shut it off, no matter how far we had traveled. And then we'd never hear the end of it.

Not that I could have ever convinced my old fashioned parents to buy in to this kind of remote monitoring system, even if it had been around.

Do you have a remote monitoring system? How do you like it?

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