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Powerful smartphone apps


By Tom Tate


the world to take advantage of the “Internet of things” and the “connected home” unlike any other device to come before it. In case you are not familiar with these two phrases, they both boil down to this - more products and appliances are being sold ready to connect to the Internet. The goal of this connectivity is many fold, including control, management, convenience, troubleshooting, comfort, security and entertainment.


The smartphone is enabling this


estimates, more than 50 percent of cell phones used in the United States qualify as smartphones. Because smartphone users almost never leave home without their device, and most keep it with them while they are home, it has become the catalyst that makes the “Internet of things” and the “connected home” a reality. Through apps for smartphones, appliances and products can now be commanded, controlled and managed from a single device. Let’s take a look at a selection of powerful smartphone apps. Since we are an electric cooperative, energy control and efficiency rank high on our list of priorities. Let’s start there.


to several


Do not let your efforts to stay warm put your safety at risk this winter. Space heaters and electric blankets can be efficient ways to stay warm, but they can also be dangerous. Follow these tips to help keep your family safe: - Read and follow space heater and electric blanket instructions. - Check space heaters and electric blankets before use. Cords shouldn’t be frayed, brittle, or cracked. The blanket should not have any charred or dark areas. - Turn space heaters and electric blankets off when not in use. - Choose a space heater with a safety certification. Look for the UL, ETL, or CSA mark on space heaters and electric


Nest (www.nest.com) cracked the smart thermostat market open a few years back. Their device connects directly to your Wi-Fi network. This connectivity allows access for temperature control and monitoring, plus simplifies software updates to fix bugs and add features. Since then, Nest has introduced a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, as well as a video camera. And the company is working with other companies to allow their devices to work with Nest. Honeywell


com) and Ecobee (https://www.ecobee. com) offer their own lines of smart thermostats that are also controllable via an app.


(http://lyric.honeywell.


Where does the smartphone enter picture? According


Companies such as Belkin and Insteon have a wide range of products for home automation that include energy control features. Insteon (http:// www.insteon.com) offers replacement receptacles and switches that can be controlled via their app. They also offer sensors and security devices so you can create your own home security system. Insteon's products work with the app to send alerts, allow you to create schedules, monitor the devices and of course, directly control them. Belkin’s entry falls under the name of WeMo (http://www.belkin.com/ us/p/P-F7C030/) and offers similar functionality.


you can do amazing things. Camera buffs can use the Lumu Light Meter (http://lu.mu) to calculate light conditions for precise photography. Or you can simply download the LightMeter app from whitegoods to measure foot-candle levels wherever you desire.


delve into


mylapka.com/pem) world of Personal Environment Monitoring. With these modules and their app, you can measure organic (bacteria) levels, radiation, electromagnetic field and relative humidity. If you want to know how much heat is leaking around your windows or if that manifold on the car is cool enough to touch, you can choose between the Seek (http:// obtain.thermal.com/category-s/1818. htm) and Flir (http://flir.com/flirone/ atHome.cfm) offerings.


For a truly Spock-esque experience, the Lapka (https://www.


Aside from automating your home, there are a lot of additional things your smartphone can do. For those who are Star Trek fans, think of Spock’s tri-corder, that marvelous device that allowed him to perform science magic on alien planets. The smartphone is bringing a tri-corder to everyone who has an interest. With small attachments,


blankets. These verify that the product has been tested for safety. - Look for a space heater with heating element guards and automatic shut offs in case the heater is tipped over. - Many fires start when flammable products are placed too close to heating devices, such as space heaters. Space heaters should be kept at least 3 feet from blankets, clothing,


paper, and


other flammables. - Place space heaters out of high-


traffic areas and on a level, hard, non- flammable floor surface—NOT on carpets, furniture, or countertops. - Pets should never be allowed to sleep on top of electric blankets. - Electric blanket wires should never


Space heaters should be kept at least 3 feet from flammables such as blankets, clothing, paper and other flammables.


Other things smartphone-able include: padlocks, glucose monitors, door locks, light bulbs, personal protection, pet monitors and more health apps than you can shake a stick at. The list is practically endless! As you may have already guessed, the proliferation of apps means a couple of things for smartphone users. One, they are going to need more memory and two, at some point, there will be a need to consolidate their apps to provide convenient control and monitoring. In homage to J. R. R. Tolkien, we will need one app to control them all. An enterprising firm, Wink (http://www.wink.com), is already at work to consolidate home control. In the meantime, grab your smartphone, an app or two and see how you can shape your world. 306603


Stay Safe and Warm This Winter


be bent or tucked under a mattress. - Do not attempt to warm your entire


home using space heaters. Space heaters are useful in small areas, such as a study or living room. If you need to keep large areas warm, your home heating system will do the job more efficiently. Visit http://safeelectricity.org to learn more on how to avoid electrical hazards.


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