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Home Automation: What It Can Do for You

Home Automation: What It Can Do for You

    Over my next couple of articles, we’re going to take a look at home automation. This is a fascinating area that is, for some, a reality, but for many, something that borders on science fiction. The truth is, there are all sorts of products out there to help you automate elements of your home, ranging from those that the average Joe can afford and implement to those that cost as much as the house itself.

    Today, we’re going to find out why home automation is worth bothering with (or not, depending on the conclusions you draw from this article). Automation, in all areas of life, will usually do one of two things for you: save you time you can use productively, or provide you with convenience. It’s up to you to draw those sort of conclusions for yourself in this case.

    1. Lighting

    Lighting has, by far, been the most popular and common use of home automation since it was a technically and financially viable option. It’s no wonder; the most annoying thing that has ever happened to most people, throughout all the terrible experiences in life, is getting into bed only to realize that a light has been left on.

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    You can rig up your home to control your lights from a remote control panel inside the home, for when you hop into bed, or remotely, when you get to work only to realize you left everything on. And of course you can just as easily turn them all back on once you get home or before a bunch of guests arrive.

    Most lighting automation systems give you control over light dimming. This is no breakthrough in itself, as dimming is a pretty commonplace thing, but combine that fact with the ability to create intricate profiles with different lights set at different levels through the house. You can have a preset for every mood!

    Of course, lighting control can’t stop at bulbs. There’s natural light to consider as well, and there are products available to help you control curtains, blinds and shades.

    2. Home Theater

    If you’ve ever bought one of those programmable, all-in-one remotes, you’ve taken part in a small part of home automation. A lot of home automation hobbyists will have the most intricate remote programmings you’ve seen, and I don’t blame them; it takes a lot of waiting and a fair few clicks for me to get my television on and switched over to the Apple TV or DVD player.

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    But there’s also multi-zone audio to consider – the ability to select various speakers around the house through which to play audio from any given source, or even the ability to play from them all at once (or any combination thereof). If you’ve used AirTunes at home, you’re familiar with multi-zone audio, and as far as I’ve seen AirTunes provides one of the smoothest integration and operation experiences.

    3. Communication

    Intercom technology often falls into the home automation field. Hobbyists often like to have an intercom system right through the house, in every room. I remember the first time I spoke to someone via instant messaging when they were in the next room; I imagine the intercom provides a similar feeling of redundancy.

    Intercom systems can be made accessible to your PDA or smartphone via wifi, and practically any device via the Internet. They can also assist in transmitting alarms right throughout the house; if you have trouble hearing the smoke alarm from your bedroom, this may just be what you need to keep alive for the rest of the year!

    Us productivity types like to have one source to go to for everything – take the old one inbox rule, for instance. If you’re like that, you can have your intercom system routed into your phone so that you only have to speak into the one mouthpiece, safely avoiding the germs Aunty Glenda left on the other cordless last time she was over. I imagine this works best when there’s an intercom at the front gate; there’s not much use for intercom over the phone when it comes to in-house intercom.

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    4. Air

    You’re sitting at work in the air conditioning and you know it’s going to be a hot drive home. The last thing you want to do is get out of the hot car and into a hot house. With home automation you can get your air conditioner and a couple of fans going just as you take off for the day. Of course, the same thing applies to heating and ventilation, too.

    Air conditioners are expensive beasts. If you’ve routinely caught someone in your home forgetting to turn the thing off and running up the electricity bill, use an automation system to shut your air conditioner off after a half hour’s use.

    5. Security and Surveillance

    An automated security system in your home provides a far more protective and much safer experience than traditional methods. With cameras you can view over the Internet, you can ensure nobody is taking off with your HDTV (or even keep an eye on the kids). You can have a motion sensor that sends you a text message if it notices movement when nobody is meant to be home, or if sensors on your windows sense the glass breaking.

    If your system includes intercom, you can have alarms played through all those speakers around the house, ensuring that everyone in the house is aware of danger. And remember when we talked about lighting automation so you could have all the bulbs in your house switch off when you leave home? Advanced systems even allow you to lock up all the doors and windows as you’re leaving at the same time.

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    Of course, there’s the old simulation of presence trick. If you’re going on holidays, get your system to randomly play with your blinds, play music and flick lights on or off; you can sleep a little sounder knowing that your home is a little less likely to be broken into.

    And More…

    There’s much more to home automation. There are systems for getting your pets fed on time, in case you’ve killed a rat or two due to negligence, and irrigation automation, in case you’re guilty of the same when it comes to plants. You can even have your percolator or espresso machine brewing fifteen minutes before your alarm goes off.

    Needless to say, we can all live without this stuff. We have been for thousands of years. But these things can make life easier and more enjoyable, so they’re certainly worth considering if you’ve got the interest and the budget.

    Next time, we’ll be coming back to the topic of home automation and looking at how one can get started with their own home, and what sort of equipment is available for various prices.

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    Published on October 16, 2018

    7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Help You Make the Most of Your Business

    7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Help You Make the Most of Your Business

    There’s nothing more fulfilling than the sense of accomplishment you get by achieving your business goals.

    Gone are the days when you used pen and paper to take notes and manage your work day. As millennials are relying heavily on technology to manage almost everything from finances to their personal fitness, goal tracking apps are also becoming increasingly popular.[1]

    In this piece, we will shed some light on 7 such goal tracking apps that you can use to streamline your operations.

    I have handpicked these apps from a software rating web services site Best Online Reviews. Industry experts review software on these websites and help businesses to find the right solutions to meet their various, unique business requirements.

    1. Aha!

      Aha! is a California-based roadmap software provider and offers excellent goal tracking app that lets you define goals and objectives for projects. The app also lets you list out primary tasks and allows you to focus on them.

      Hosted securely on the cloud, the app offers enhanced communication tools for sharing updates through emails with select colleagues or the entire organization.

      Aha! is available on multiple platforms such as the web, Android, iOS, Windows, etc. and starts from $59 per month per user.

      Available for Web

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      2. Asana

        Asana is one of the more popular project management apps available for businesses. It lets you organize all your team’s work, such as setting up and tracking goals, creating tasks, sharing files and notes, etc.

        Asana also allows your team to organize all their tasks and focus on urgent priorities. Moreover, the app offers a delightful user experience that makes task management simple and easy.

        Asana is available on multiple platforms from PCs and Mac to iOS and Android. Multi-channel adaptability makes Asana the perfect choice to track your goals anytime, from anywhere.

        Available for iOS | Android | Web

        3. Basecamp

          Basecamp is an excellent tool to manage all your team’s projects and keep your activities organized. It opens a new thread for every task and that task is visible by the whole team.

          With Basecamp, you can schedule tasks, add to-dos, discuss tasks by adding comments, add files and attachments, and much more.

          The app is available on both mobile and desktop platforms and costs $99 per month. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS platforms and offers excellent multi-channel access.

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          Available for iOS | Android | Web

          4. Forecast

            An efficient tool for successful task management, Forecast is also a popular goal tracking app. Apart from effective milestone tracking, the app also offers convenient status reporting.

            Forecast uses project history to let you know the status of your current work. Moreover, it uses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide high-quality assistance. It is a robust app for small teams to track goals and time.

            Forecast is available for free and comes with Android and iOS app support. The premium version of the app starts from $19 per month per user.

            Available for Web

            5. Wrike

              Wrike is a cloud-based collaboration and project management app that successfully manages projects from start to finish. It lets you create tasks, track work progress and retrieve reports with ease.

              The app also gives real-time work updates and helps team members to understand their work priorities. A custom report builder helps you to generate in-depth reporting.

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              Wrike’s premium version is available from $9.80 per month per user and is available on multiple platforms.

              Available for iOS | Android | Web

              6. Todo.vu

                Todo.vu is a unique platform that delivers enhanced customer relationship management (CRM), task management, time tracking, and billing functionality in a single app.

                According to Capterra, it’s an ideal app for freelancers and consultants, who are looking for tools to improve efficiency and transparency.

                Although the app is free to use with basic features, the premium plan starts from $5 per month per user. The app also comes with calendar sync and task reminder functionality to keep you on track, always.

                Available for Web

                7. Flock

                  Looking for a tool to simplify task management? Try out Flock.

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                  Flock comes with enhanced goal tracking and additional features like instant messaging.

                  Moreover, Flock offers tons of integrations with tools such as Google, MailChimp, Jira, Dropbox, etc. It is a powerful tool that’s packed with robust features such as reminders, notes, polls and to-dos.

                  Even though you can use the tool for free, the paid version of Flock is available from $4.50 per month per user.

                  Available for iOS | Android | Web

                  Conclusion

                  Businesses need high-quality project management tools to streamline collaboration and operations. Enhanced goal tracking apps make it easy for your team to improve productivity by keeping its tasks organized.

                  But it’s essential that you choose an app that meets your unique business requirements. You can choose from the above-mentioned apps to streamline operations and improve the productivity of your team.

                  Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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