The Automated House

By Donna Garlough | Boston Home |

Hectic lives call for lots of different time-saving devices. But the recent onslaught of "helping hand" technology has only given frazzled homeowners more things to keep track of (did you really remember to reset that garage alarm?). What if you could run your home from, say, your BlackBerry? That’s exactly what Topsfield-based System 7 wondered. Accessible by phone, Internet, and, yes, PDA, the company’s new master-control software rolls everything from home security to house-wide music systems into one virtual 24-hour central command bank. Clients can now keep an eye on their pets, activate the sprinklers, even let the UPS guy in—all from the comfort of miles away.

System 7 Core Network and Home Logic programs, $40,000 and up.

LIGHTS ON, LIGHTS OFF
System 7 checks sunrise and sunset times via the Internet and shifts its settings to automatically illuminate your driveway and selected rooms when needed.

CANDID CAMERA

Wireless cameras let absent homeowners keep an eye on pets, maids, kids, even nannies. Oh, and the guy who’s trying to break in through the back window.

BY THE YARD

Lawn sprinklers and pool-chemical monitoring devices can be linked to the network, too. It’s like having a virtual pool boy—and a live-in gardener.

PARTY CENTRAL

Nearly every entertainment device, from TVs to iPods, can be programmed to start when people enter a room. If the party grows louder than the doorbell, System 7 will buzz your phone whenever guests arrive.

PACKAGE DEAL

Goodbye, "attempted delivery" notices. Users can set the network to ring their cell phone instead of the doorbell; once connected, clients key in a password that unlocks doors for mail carriers.

ON THE OUTS

If your home’s power—or worse, the HVAC—goes haywire, the system will call your cell phone or send you an e-mail alert. Better yet, it will notify your maintenance provider, so you don’t even have to intervene.