COMMAND CENTRAL

BY BARRY WALDMAN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

The Jetsons have officially arrived on Planet Earth. You can now operate everything in your house—TV, audio, lights, intercom, doorbell, fridge, washerdryer, oven and more—from a single mobile device.

Let’s say you’re out of town and—oh, no! Did you leave the oven on? It’s going to drive you crazy! Fortunately, you can grab your phone and double-check. Whew! While you’re at it, you might as well lower the thermostat and engage the alarm system. And why not verify that the lawn is being watered according to the schedule you’ve preprogrammed?

On your way home, set the lights to go on when you arrive, raise the temperature back to comfy zone and pre-heat the oven so you can start dinner upon arrival. Once home, you can use your phone to send your favorite music to the kitchen, alert you when the wash is done, then move the audio with you to the laundry room.

The best thing about the way your house is wired is that your 72-inch HD flat-screen can be many things: a television, a monitor for your laptop, a screen for your phone or a video for your kids’ gaming station— all under the control of one mobile device.

Welcome to the future.

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“That’s just the beginning,” says Jerry Tollison of Daniel Island AudioVideo, who has 20 years’ experience installing systems like the WiFi that controls all these appliances. “In the next five years, your phone will be command central for pretty much everything in your life.” Tollison says appliances like toasters and coffee makers will soon be remotely controlled too, and the biggest technological leap will be in refrigerators. “You’ll scan each item you remove from the fridge and when you get low it will add that item to your grocery list at the supermarket,” he says. “You’ll be able to have it all delivered without lifting a finger.”

All this works as long as the appliance itself is fitted for remote operation. Most TVs and washer-dryers built today are, but refrigerators aren’t there yet. Tollison says everything will be on board by the end of the decade.

“More than anything, automation simplifies your life,” he says. “It eliminates all the remotes in your house and lets you handle everything from your phone. It allows you to bring the audio of your choice into any room of the house or even the backyard.”

Best of all, today’s cutting edge convenience and peace of mind fits inside your back pocket. George Jetson would be impressed.

HOME AUTOMATION CHECKLIST

1. Arrange a walk-through with an audio-visual company to determine the best way to set up your system.
2. Establish your priorities. A house can be wired in stages. Most people set up audio and lighting first, and later move on to video and other appliances.
3. Expect to have workers in your home for a minimum of two days. Wires are generally run through small holes in the walls that are sealed afterward. The intrusion is minimal.
4. Make sure that your audio-visual company promises to fill all holes and clean up afterward.
5. Ask the company if they offer tutorials and written documentation on how to use the system.

Barry Waldman is chief thinker and doer at Write Stuff Communications, helping non-profits and small businesses with their PR and marketing.