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The automated home: Manage your garden, TV & more via the web

New technologies let you control your home no matter where you are.


In today’s high-tech world, we can control many aspects of our home without even being there. With just the touch of a button, we can manipulate lights, lock doors, water the garden, record our favorite shows and more, all from around the corner or around the world.


You’re stuck in a meeting at work when you remember you didn’t set your DVR to record that new show that starts tonight. Does that mean you have to miss it? Not if you’re one of the many people with the capability to access their recording devices via the web. Cable companies are quickly developing website and smartphone applications that let users access cable boxes and DVRs from the web to change, schedule or cancel a recording.

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Lots of security systems are going mobile these days. With these systems, you can turn your alarm system on and off, monitor who is going in and out of your home, watch security cameras and more. Some systems, such as the Schlage Link system, even let you control your thermostat, lights and electrical outlet through the website or a mobile application. This is very handy if you’re out of town or just getting home later than expected. You can turn the heat down to save unnecessary costs or turn the lights on to make it appear as if someone is home. The more these systems control, the more they tend to cost. Also, most of these systems include a monthly fee, which can also be higher if they control several devices.

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Automated gardens are a new innovation catering to the high-tech gardener. The simplest models are connected to your sprinklers, and can be turned on through a website or mobile application. The more advanced models actually monitor and report on moisture levels in your soil, letting you know when your garden needs to be watered. You can set these devices to water your garden automatically when the moisture reaches a certain level, or to wait for your instruction.

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Automated controls don’t stop with your home. There are also web-based services that allow you to control your vehicle through a website or mobile device. Using these systems, you can lock, unlock or even start your car without actually being there. This may come in handy if you let someone borrow or simply move your car. It’s also handy when you leave something inside and want someone to fetch it without actually handing over your keys. Another feature of these web-based services is that you can use it to flash your lights, something you may use if you lose your car in parking lot and you can access these controls through your mobile device.

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