Smartphones enable the home automation revolution

With the rise of communications and mobile phones, technology is rapidly making it possible to control everyday household electronics from the palm of your hand. We take a look at what can be controlled in your home using some very clever devices and your smartphone.

Everyday chores are being replaced by automated devices. Just like in the futuristic space-age cartoon TV series, The Jetsons, we now have robot vacuum cleaners that clean the house for you. It doesn't stop there, however, with technology taking it another step forward by allowing you to control that vacuum cleaner and so many other devices from the palm of your hand from anywhere in the world.

Thanks to products that can be set up in your house and then linked up to your smartphone via an app, you'll be able to take control just about anything. Well, maybe not anything, but one day soon you will!

New smartphone apps are helping consumers conveniently control and automate many everyday household items.

The good old ways

It used to be considered exciting to be able to control things using a remote control. From home entertainment systems to garage doors to air conditioners and lights, we could control a number of things around the house from a certain distance without having to physically walk over and turn them on or off.

Technology then advanced with a universal remote control. In 1987 when the universal remote controller was invented it removed the need of having multiple remotes to control multiple devicesi.

Now, remote controls are fast being replaced by smart devices that let you take control with your smartphone via wireless Internet. Companies are building devices that can be installed in your home that can then be used via apps installed on your smartphone, letting you have total control from the palm of your hand from just about anywhere in the world.

Some of the things that can be controlled include home security, temperature, lighting and home entertainment systems, whether you are at home or on the goii,iii.

One such product is Lockitron. This gadget is an electronic deadlock that can be installed on any door, and can be locked and unlocked remotely via your smartphone using Lockitron's appiv.

For an all-in-one security system, Uniden's Guardian Digital Wireless Surveillance system lets you monitor your house remotelyv. The surveillance system comes with an iPhone and Android app so that you're able to remotely check on your home using your smartphone. Uniden's system features motion-detection technology, which then sends a notification to your smartphone informing you that there may be an intruder in your homev.

The Savant Control System is yet another automation system that controls several areas of the home. Savant's system requires some work to make your home fully automated; the device connects and manages climate control, security cameras, heating and cooling system settings, lights and pool conditions, as well as window blinds and curtainsvi. To control the system through your smartphone you'll need to install Savant true control II.

Routine tasks such as turning lights on and off and closing curtains can be done by home automation systems, saving you time and effort.

Coming soon to a home near you

There are a lot of products that are being worked on at the moment that will make life even easier. For example, if you've left the house and just realised that you forgot to feed your pet, then you can pull out your smartphone and tell the vacuum cleaner to feed themviii. Kettles and coffee makers are in the works to have your hot beverage ready by the time you get home or wake up in the morningix.

With smart devices and smart homes on the rise, you may never have to get off the couch again. The great part of it all? If you lose your smartphone, you can just call it to find out where it is! You can't do that when you lose the remote.

Unfortunately, all this smart technology doesn't guarantee that your home will be protected from theft and damage, but with home insurance you can protect the investment in your home and contents. Contact Allianz for a quote today.

i Poltrack A 2013, 'Why mobile devices spell certain death for the universal remote control', Digital Trends, 16 March, viewed on 2 December 2013,

ii CNET staff 2013, 'Take control of your digital home', CNET, viewed 9 October 2013,

iii Freshome 2013, '10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home', viewed 23 September 2013,

iv Bilton, N 2013, 'As cars and homes and even toilets get smarter, they get more hackable', The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August, viewed 18 September 2013,

v Uniden 2013, Guardian G2711, viewed 29 November 2013,

vi Electronic Living, Savant Control System, viewed 2 December 2013,

vii Home Controls 2013, 'It's so easy to automate your home' 2013, viewed 4 October 2013,

viii Helleso-Knutson, O 2011, 'LG has announced LG Thinq. A solution to clean up your room using your smartphone or tablet while away from home', Esato, 4 January, viewed 22 November 2013,

ix Boxall A 2013, 'Cream, sugar, or Wi-Fi? The iKettle makes coffee at your iPhone or Android's command', Digital Trend, 7 November, viewed 2 December 2013, Digital Trend, 7 November, viewed 2 December 2013,