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The Ins and Outs of Home Automation:

By John Stafford

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Clear2there is a leading provider of service delivery platforms used by telecommunications, Internet, and utility service providers to deliver smart-home, smart-business, smart-healthcare, and smart-farm solutions to consumers. Clear2there uses a cloud-based solution that enables local service providers to create unique competitive offerings that meet the needs of local communities and customers.

Can you briefly explain what home automation is?

Simply put, home automation is the completion of one or a combination of tasks without direct human intervention. The simplest example is using an app on a smartphone to turn a light on or off. This isn't very exciting by itself, but the real power of home automation comes into play when multiple tasks are completed automatically based on specific conditions and actions.

For example, establishing a 'returning to the house' profile within a smartphone app could include a number of tasks, like opening the garage, disarming the alarm, adjusting the thermostat, turning off exterior lights, and turning on interior lights - all with a single command or button-press.

Or, in a house where occupants may be constantly adjusting the thermostat to unreasonable levels, a home automation system could be configured to send a text message alert to the homeowner - that includes a snapshot from a surveillance camera with a picture of the person making the change, and then adjust it back to the correct setting. A simple, yet effective way to keep a handle on energy use.

Home automation is going to be different for every individual and household based on their needs, comfort with technology, and selection of sensors and controllers. The options are nearly limitless.

What's the current trend that you've seen for the automation of home electronic devices and systems?

The biggest trend in the home automation space is the demand for solutions that can manage all the different systems within the home - including entertainment platforms such as streaming music services, control and management of household systems such as thermostats, locks, and lights, and security and surveillance. The market is moving beyond the early adopters that were more comfortable with managing technology, to a broader adoption base where users do not care how it works, they just want it to work - every time.

Platform solutions that address the various needs of different consumers, yet provide an intuitive user interface on tablets, smartphones, and computers are driving innovative uses and adoption by a broader audience.

What are some of the basic options that a homeowner will need to decide on with this technology?

The first decision is between do-it-yourself (DIY) or bundled services from a broadband service provider. Many home improvement retailers offer DIY smart home platforms, but the buyer needs to be ready to build their own system from the available components. Second, select an ecosystem that provides the type of services and support you are looking for. If the user only wants to switch lights on and off remotely, then a basic DIY single-function app might be the answer. However, for most people, once they start to use home automation, they begin to think about the "what ifs". In this case, a flexible platform solution with professional design, implementation and support services offered by a broadband provider might be the better avenue.

And finally, what is the desired scope of the home automation plan - Key areas to consider are security and surveillance, energy conservation, entertainment systems, healthcare and well-being monitoring, mechanical system management like heating, cooling, sprinklers, and garage doors, lighting, and smart-appliance control. The professionals at the broadband service provider will be able to provide guidance and suggestions to meet the needs of nearly any consumer.

How does the initial financial investment compare with the long-term savings that homeowners will get?

Just like other improvements, the value of home automation ties closely with how - and how often - it's used. For example, programmable thermostats that adjust temperatures based on time of day have proven to reduce energy consumption. A smart home can add to this efficiency by employing motion detectors that enable the system to adjust the temperatures based on activity, not just time of day. This additional level of management could very well lead to even greater energy savings in a typical home. In addition, these very same motion sensors can be used to turn off lights in areas without activity to further reduce consumption.

Do you have any general advice to help people who are considering home automation technology?

Unless you are planning to spend a lot of time researching, acquiring, installing, configuring, and maintaining a smart home solution, stick with the experts. There are a lot of DIY products on the market, but many have different - and sometimes incompatible - control interfaces. Consider having to open one app on a smart phone to unlock the front door, another to adjust the thermostat, and yet a third to arm or disarm the alarm. When automation becomes harder to use than just flipping a manual light switch, once the novelty wears off, people will typically stop using it.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

Clear2there provides its products and services to telecommunications, Internet, cable, and utility service providers. In Oklahoma, our partners include:

RK Black, Oklahoma City, OK

Travis Voice & Data, Oklahoma City, OK

Medicine Park Telephone Company, Medicine Park, OK

For more information please email Clear2there at info@clear2there.com or call 405-605-8158.

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