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Smart home of the future is now in the Tri-State

Don't Waste Your Money
Posted at 6:27 PM, Feb 28, 2017

Forget The Jetsons. The voice-activated "smart home" of the future is already here, and we got to tour one in Northern Kentucky, just set up by Cincinnati Bell.

All you need is a few gadgets, a control center, and your voice, and you can control dozens of things in your house.

That's because Amazon's Echo  -- and the similar Google Home -- is about to change our lives dramatically.  Despite what many people thought when they were first released, these little canisters are not just gadgets to play music or give you the weather forecast.

Start up company setting up smart homes

Chris Compton is CEO of Smart Home HQ, a Cincinnati-based company that turns homes in to smart homes. They recently set up a smart home in a new subdivision in Campbell County.

"Alexa, set kitchen lights to 100 percent," he said.  And as if by magic they all turned up to full brightness.

Compton demonstrated how you can turn on and change the color of room lights, and turn room vents on and off, all with a control panel in the front hall, your smartphone, or simply by speaking to "Alexa," Amazon Echo's digital assistant.

"It even gives you smart vents," Compton said. "You can turn the heat or a/c up or down in various rooms, and it helps maintain an equal temperature throughout the home."

Have boogie fever? You can even turn your family room into a disco. Compton pulled out his phone, turned on music, and the room broke into a multi color visual experience.

"And the lights even synchronize to the music," he said.

Security equipment for your safety

But security is just as important.

You have cameras showing the creepy guy outside your front door (and thanks to the Ring doorbell, a doorbell alert comes to your phone no matter where you are in the world).
    
You get water leak sensors that also alert your phone if the refrigerator or water heater develops a leak, even when you are hundreds of miles away on vacation.

"This little device has metal tabs on it, and when it senses water, it sends pushover notifications to let you know that something is wrong," he said.

And you can even choose to have the sound of loud barking dogs if someone ventures up to your home at night. We tested it, and it sounded like three German Shepherds and a Rotwieller were ready for dinner in the kitchen.
    
Homeowners who already have camera setups, like Jennifer Leimberger of Fairfield, Ohio, love the feeling of safety they get.

"You can just sit in your chair and watch everything that's going on, you don't have to keep going to the window anymore to know what's outside,"  she said.

Central panel ties them together

What programs like this do is combine things like the Ring doorbell, Nest thermostat, and now the Amazon Echo into one big interconnected web of devices.

Jonathan Bond of Cincinnati Bell says you don't have to install anything: the telecommunications company will build a smart home system for you, all connected through a central command panel and an Eero WiFi system.

"What I did in my home is I started with with a budget system with Eero, Alexa, and a Ring doorbell," he said, "But can keep building more on top of each other."

Privacy concerns? You can set your own password on all the devices, and for true privacy, Bond says don't install cameras in your living room, family room, or (obviously) bedrooms.

What's the cost?

The cost, professionally installed and set up: $1,000 - $2,000, depending on how many gadgets you want (the central control panel itself is $375, and it is needed if you wish to tie everything together).

You can get a demo and consultation at a Cincinnati Bell Store.

But you can put together a small DIY version for about $200 per gadget, with and Echo, video doorbell, cameras, and Philips Hue WiFi lights sold at Best Buy. The gadgets won't all be interconnected as in a fully smart home, but it is a start.

For about $800, you can be on your way into the future.

If this sounds expensive, remember that a new roof is over $5,000, and a central air conditioning unit costs $3,000. So this isn't that outrageous.

And that way you don't waste your money.