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3 ways smart tech in our homes is helping us live safer and smarter

Smart home tech helps keep an eye on what’s important to you, even when you’re not at home.

We typically associate our homes with safety and security, and we try our best to take the recommended steps to safeguard our homes. Fortunately, the rise of easily accessible smart-home technology has ushered in developments that don’t just help with everyday inconveniences but can significantly improve the safety and security of your home. As companies like Google — whose Nest products are well-known for their elegance, ease and efficiencies — and other innovative tech enter our lives, we’ve seen several ways that smart tech can make a meaningful change in families’ lives.

Smart tech is making welcome changes in home security.

Before the proliferation of affordable smart technology and strong home Wi-Fi, not many people had access to effective home surveillance tools. Cameras were often ineffective at night — when many crimes occur — and even during the day yielded blurry, pixelized images. Today, police departments across the country regularly use crystal-clear images from the latest technology to identify and catch criminals or help corroborate the accounts of witnesses.

Though smart security cameras — which ideally are waterproof, on continuously, and upload footage to the cloud — are a smart and surprisingly affordable choice, today’s tech can provide simple solutions that many homeowners aren’t aware of. A doorbell video camera, such as the Nest Hello, streams video footage to your mobile device in real time so you can see who is knocking or if a package has been delivered — or taken. Thanks to the camera's use of HD video and night vision, the video will display clearly, day or night. Homeowners can also use pre-recorded messages, such as instructing the delivery service where to leave a package, which reduces potential safety issues at the door. Remarkably, add-on programs like the Nest Aware subscription enhance the doorbell camera with facial recognition software to learn the difference between someone you know and someone you don’t.

Families can rest easier and live more safely with smart technology.

Smoke detectors are a common fixture in most homes today. But did you know that there are two types of smoke alarms – ionization and photoelectric? Ionization alarms are more responsive to flaming fires, while photoelectric is more for smoldering fires. And what about carbon monoxide (CO) detection? Enter Nest Protect, a smarter smoke and CO alarm that detects both kinds of smoke/fires plus CO, and allows users to receive alerts on mobile devices detailing exactly what the problem is and where it was detected. Additionally, because the Protect constantly runs self-diagnostics on its sensors and battery, it alerts homeowners when the battery is running low. You’ll always know the status of the Nest Protect and can rest easy.

Not every safety concern is about the family members — sometimes it’s the house itself. For instance, a busted pipe can wreak havoc on a home, ruining belongings and requiring significant cleanup costs. With smart tech and the reliable monitoring capabilities it provides, new products have emerged that alert homeowners to leaks and even shut off the main water valve automatically.

Seniors are using smart-home technology to communicate with friends and family, and to make everyday tasks in the home a little easier.

Smart tech is changing the lives of seniors.

According to a recent survey by AARP, 75% of adults over age 50 want to continue living in their own homes as they age. Doing so is certainly possible, but it often means making accommodations to the home and in daily habits. Many seniors are now using cameras inside their home to allow loved ones — regardless if they are across the street or across the country — to make sure they are safe and sound. Instead of relying on frequent check-in phone calls, seniors can feel more independent while also staying safe, especially if living alone.

The Nest Cam Indoor, for instance, allows users to set up alerts that will send a notification to a mobile device if there is no movement detected in a set period of time. Family members can then access the security camera's feed from their phone or tablet to see if they need to call for medical assistance. Because seniors can also become isolated and lonely — a significant health risk in itself — the two-way communication can also be used to talk to grand kids and friends, without having to navigate smartphones or video chat programs.

Other smart tech simply helps seniors with everyday tasks that can become difficult to remember with age or to complete with less mobility. While many people use voice-activated assistants to check the weather or play music, devices such Google Home can even make hands-free phone calls and control smart-home devices. When connected to smart lights or smart thermostats, such as the Nest Thermostat, homeowners can use their voice assistants to turn off lights or adjust the temperature inside their home, upstairs or downstairs. It also boasts large display numbers and easy navigation for those who might have failing eyesight or little familiarity with technology. Because people often do these tasks at night when lighting may be poor and they may be sleepy, using Google Home might even reduce fall risks.

For people who struggle with memory issues, or are just not very organized, Google Home can also help with organization. By speaking to Google Home, users can set calendar and task reminders from any room in the house, order goods and services or simply add items to a shopping list.

Smart tech is becoming easier to understand

Because not all of us are comfortable with technology or know what products are best suited for which homes or lifestyles, homeowners who prefer a “do it for me” model vs. DIY often partner with a company, such as ARS Smart Home, which is a Nest/Google Partner. With a single appointment scheduled at your convenience, you can install smart-home technology with a smart-home consultant who can explain and connect everything for you. Rather than purchasing a series of one-off products that don’t work together, you can invest in a suite of products that works together and fits your family’s needs.

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