Out-smarting your smart home - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Out-smarting your smart home

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Home automation may not be able to make your dinner or brush your teeth like it did on The Jetson's cartoon. However, when you see what "smart homes" can do these days, your jaw might drop.

We visited a house in North Carolina that is completely tricked-out with all of the bells and whistles available for smart homes.

The window shades are programmed to the longitude and latitude of the house and will rise and fall at perfect moment to block out the sun.

When you get up in the morning you can program the home to only turn on the lights in the rooms you'll use while getting ready.

If you go on vacation, the touch of one button will drop your thermostat to a perfect "away" temperature to save you money.

All of this is controlled by a tablet or smart phone.

"The technology is easy to use. That's the key, people won't use it if it isn't easy. We spend a lot of time making the technology behind the control panel run efficiently so the consumer simply has to push a button," said Scott Newnam, the president of a company called Audio Advice.

Still others use this technology purely for safely.

The Munoz family got automatic door locks because their son, who is autistic, had a tendency to unlock the doors and occasionally walk out of the house.

"It automatically locks the front door now and every time someone comes in our out I get an alert on my iPad," said Erick Munoz. It gives his family peace of mind.

Audio Advice is installing as many as 7 or 8 times as many systems into homes than it did several years ago. No longer is it simply for the Bill Gates of the world.

"Most people want a good security system, or maybe simply a good audio and music system throughout their house. It is getting more affordable. Our average install is about $2,000 for those basic things," Newnam said.

He believes basic home automation will be almost as prevalent as cable TV in 10 years.

"It is a really neat thing to do, but you have to think about some things first," said Cyber Expert Theresa Payton.

As the systems become more prevalent she particularly worries about do-it-yourself kits making their way onto the market. You'd pull a system out of the box, install it yourself without an expert, and if you don't make security a priority you could run into real trouble.

"It is possible for hackers to figure out how to unlock your doors, break into video cameras and see inside your house, even control the thermostat if they truly wanted to.

Just this month a computer science student pleaded guilty to hacking the computers of Miss Teen USA and other young women and spied on them through webcams. Theresa says users must ask about the privacy policy of every system they use. If you're transmitting smart data to reduce costs or create safety, security or comfort, you need to know who else is looking at that data.

Scott says his company puts privacy and security first and in homes with automation they are sure to install strong and secure home networks.

He adds there is a key question to ask before you have a smart home installed. Ask your sales representative if the company is registered with the state as a security system provider. That requires them to jump through more hoops within the state to prove that employees have been properly vetted and background checked.

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