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6 Home Automation Gifts Perfect for Parents

6 Home Automation Gifts Perfect for Parents

There are many things a modern “smart” home can offer, like added security, but one of the best things they provide is convenience. With home automation, you can stop worrying about trivial duties and spend more time on what’s important.

For instance, the Nest thermostat will change the temperature in your home without your guidance. This saves time and money. It can also turn down the air temperature when you’re on your way home from work, so the house is just the way you like it when you arrive.

If you need gift ideas for your parents, home automation tech is perfect. It can be used to make everyone’s lives easier, safer and ultimately happier.

August Doorbell Cam

What if you could answer your door without even opening it? What if you could communicate with visitors on your terms? That’s what the August Doorbell Cam is for. It syncs with a smartphone, so you can always see who’s at the door, even when you’re not home, and has a one-way camera to record the live feed in case you want to replay a conversation or view it later. You can even speak to people at your door, thanks to two-way communication.

It also syncs up with other smart devices via Wi-Fi – namely, the August Smart Lock. If you have both installed, you can answer the door with the Cam and then unlock the door through the lock. This allows you to let family or friends in while you’re away, or even emergency services.

The home automation comes into play while you’re away. The doorbell can send you alerts and notifications when someone rings it, or even when it detects strange activity. This offers added security and peace of mind.

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Get it: August Doorbell Cam[1] | $149-$199

    August Smart Lock

    There are several different smart locks available, but we chose the August Smart Lock because it pairs nicely with the Doorbell Cam. You can use the Doorbell to see who’s at the door and then you can use the smart lock to let them in – if you deem them trustworthy.

    But a smart lock can do much more than that. It also eliminates the need to carry around keys, because you can just use your smartphone to get into the house. It can also auto-lock if you forget to lock your door after a specified time. That also means it can auto-unlock as you approach, which is super convenient if you have your hands full.

    The Smart Lock keeps a detailed activity log of everyone that comes and goes, so you can see who’s been inside your home at all times. And you can issue digital keys to friends, family and anyone else you trust. The best part is it can sync up with Apple’s HomeKit, and other home automation systems, to keep your entire house in check and operating without input.

    Get it: August Smart Lock[2] | $199-$229

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    Canary

    Modern smart tech allows us to boost security in our homes for relatively affordable prices. Gone are the days where you need to pay for a pricey subscription.

    The Canary is an all-in-one security system that monitors your home and sends you alerts while you’re away – or when you’re home, too. It has a camera that’s also equipped with a night vision sensor, which works alongside the motion detectors. If the Canary detects movement or unusual patterns, it can send notifications and alerts right to your phone.

    This allows you to open a live video feed and see exactly what’s going on. It will record in 1080p HD video and audio, so you can use the record as evidence later if necessary. The Canary is also equipped with a speaker and emergency siren, which you can use to scare off burglars or at least put them on alert. Don’t worry, the Canary is also tamper-proof and the video is stored in the cloud.

    Get it: Canary[3] | $169

      LiftMaster MyQ Garage

      You might not think of the garage as a super high-tech area, but by adding an accessory, like an automatic door opener, it can be just as smart as the rest of your abode!

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      The LiftMaster MyQ Garage system turns any garage door opener manufactured after 1993 into a smart one. This means you can open and close your garage door remotely, all from a smartphone. You can also receive alerts when your garage door opens, or when it’s been open for too long. This is great if you leave the house and forget to close it.

      It works just fine with existing garage door openers, so if you have a custom system, you should be fine too. If your parents don’t have a garage door opener installed yet, Clopay has teamed up with LiftMaster, and can install extra bells and whistles such as automatic openers, remotes, and other accessories. [4]

      Get it: LiftMaster MyQ Garage[5] | $129.99

      Belkin WeMo Switch

      The Belkin WeMo Switch is nothing more than a power switch with Wi-Fi network support. Any devices or powered items you have connected to the switch can be activated remotely from a smartphone. So, if you have a light hooked to it, you can turn it on or off while you’re away. You can do the same for TVs, stereos, computers, fans, consoles and much more.

      If you use it in combination with an app like IFTT or home automation equipment, you can set up some pretty cool scenarios. For example, you could have lights turn on and off throughout the day to make it seem like you’re home. You can also use the plug to turn off power-hungry equipment that you might have left on by accident.

      Get it: Belkin WeMo Switch[6] | $29.99-$39.99

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        iRobot Roomba 650

        Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if my home could clean itself?” Well, certain chores like the dishes or the laundry may never be automated, but vacuuming and sweeping sure can be! The iRobot Roomba 650 is a smart “robot” vacuum that operates out of a charging cradle and is completely automated. It leaves the dock and cleans for an hour or so, before returning to charge back up.

        It can clean hair, dirt and dust from your floors without any input from you. Of course, when the dust bag is full, you still have to empty it – the robot can’t do that itself. Yet. This product has a lot of competition, admittedly, but we chose the Roomba 650 because it’s excellent and it’s affordable.

        The best part about having a robot vacuum is that once you set it up, you can truly leave it alone. It will send alerts and notifications to your phone occasionally, like if it gets stuck. Other than that, you can power it on and just enjoy your clean floors.

        Get it: iRobot Roomba 650[7] | $159.99-$375

        Home Automation

        With these six suggested home automation gifts, you can really turn your home into a smart home. Did we miss your favorite automation gadget? Let us know in the comments!

        Reference

        [1] August: August Doorbell Cam 
        [2] August: August Smart Lock
        [3] Canary: Canary
        [4] Clopay: LiftMaster Garage Door Opener
        [5] Liftmaster: LiftMaster MyQ Home Control
        [6] Belkin: Belkin WeMo Switch
        [7] iRobot: iRobot Roomba 650

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        Megan Wild

        Editor, Freelancer

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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