A home that’s completely controlled via smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices is no longer a sci-fi dream — it’s a reality. And right now, mobile home automation is seeing an explosion that’s changing the lifestyles — and the energy consumption habits — of more and more homeowners ever day. From turning on the fireplace to playing music throughout a house at the touch of a button, this new way of running a household is making homes more high-tech, more desirable, and more comfortable. This luxury can, of course, be expensive at times, and if you’re putting together your own system with DIY solutions, you might find that they don’t collaborate together so easily yet, which can eventually become quite expensive as well.
Fortunately, there are a number of cloud devices that make home automation worth the cost, whether you’re dabbling in DIY or opting for a truly custom installed solution. Here are five of the most impressive cloud-based home automation solutions on the market today.
1. Clare Controls
Touted as the first custom home automation system to truly take advantage of the cloud, Clare Controls has set the bar high for the competition. This company focuses on simplicity and integration, which is exactly what seamless home automation needs. Programming and dealer maintenance can all be handled remotely, which saves both time and money in the long run, and Clare Controls systems are designed to work flawlessly on a number of platforms. Seamless integration is a key element for Clare Control, which is a big advantage over disconnected DIY solutions.
A cloud-based controller for devices operating on the Z-Wave wireless communication standard, Z-Cloud is a central control unit that allows homeowners to set up their own home automation in any style they choose. The Z-Cloud operates from a a centralized data center, so only a single device is necessary to control every Z-Wave device in your home remotely. Additional devices can of course be purchased to allow for more administrators, and the system works very similarly to existing cloud storage options.
3. On Controls
The designers of On Controls started with the notion that the the term “cloud” is wrongly used, as well as overly used, and set out to rectify that by designing a reliable, scalable, truly remotely accessed and managed system that remains in constant contact with the web, allowing dealers to instantly manage and update the system via a secure Enterprise Grade connection that requires no port forwarding and no VNP. On Controls provides a system that allows multiple devices of different carriers and companies to be synced together. The information that a family or business puts into the system can be controlled via their web-based programming and then shared to whichever device they need. This cloud system can be synced with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, and even Amazon Kindle devices.
For those who’re a bit hesitant to commit to the expenses of home automation, Control4 offers a starter kit to put homeowners on the road to revolutionizing their house, starting with a single room. With Control4′s HC-250 controller and SR-250 remote — or your own iOS or Android devices — you can turn a regular entertainment system into a theater-like experience, with complete control over not only your AV system, but comfort and lighting, as well, for about what you’d pay for a really good AV receiver. On top of this, you can feel confident in the security of your system with the recent release of their new OS 2.4, which now allows you to control these automation functions from practically anywhere in the world via Wi-Fi or your mobile connection. “Anywhere Access,” as it’s called, allows you to monitor security cameras, lock or unlock doors, manage your HVAC system, or even sneak a peek at who’s ringing your doorbell, from literally anywhere in the world, via the same sort of secure connection that the bank app on your phone uses.
5. Electric Imp
Don’t be fooled by its name, because this Imp is a little helper that lets you control all of your connected devices from one app. Another startup, this one out of Palo Alto, the goal of Electric Imp is a little different from the other companies on our list. Instead of creating a processor that connects all of your electronic devices, the goal here is to create a standard that can be integrated into manufactured devices from their parties, adding not only Wi-Fi capabilities, but control capabilities, as well. Complexity is going to be put on the backburner according to Electric Imp and the company understands exactly what people want: one easy way to control their home.
It’s too soon to tell who will win the cloud battle, and of course, there’s no reason that they can’t all be winners. In fact, they may end up working together to provide a more robust cloud control solution for your home. Your Control4 system, for example, might eventually speak to Electric Imp devices, not only controlling them, but monitoring them, too. In our increasingly connected, ever-more-intelligent homes, there’s really no telling what the future holds. But its’ a safe bet that the cloud will be a big part of it.