Now, several companies are trying to make home automation easy by creating technologies that allow software and services that connect the disparate gadgets and get them to perform several tasks together — such as opening the front door, turning on the lights and firing up the stereo when you pull into the driveway.
One of those companies is a startup called Revolv. The company makes a single small box, called a hardware hub, which is designed to control all the devices in a home, whether they use common wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or relatively obscure ones, such as ZigBee or Z-Wave.
"Our hardware hub has seven different radios,” said Revolv co-founder Mike Soucie. "It can talk to all these devices, depending on what language they speak." This could include thermostats, locks, security cameras, garage-door openers and even those automated drapes.
One neat feature on the hardware hub is its ability to use a single smartphone app in place of the individual apps for each connected device, such as a wireless lock or a Sonos streaming music player.
But Revolv takes its hardware hub one step further by incorporating Geosense technology. Through the home Wi-Fi network, the hardware hub connects to the company's cloud service to automate tasks based on your location.
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