Published on December 26th, 2012 | by Tom Wake0
How to control household appliances… from your iPhone
For years tech heads have been telling us that one day we’ll be able to control gizmos and gadgets around the house from our mobile phones.
They also told us that we’d be clapping our hands to switch on the bathroom lights… but until now it’s only really been multi millionaire couples you see on Grand Designs who’ve had access to this kind of tech wizardry.
There’s now a clever way to control electrical appliances in your home via your iPhone. It’s a device called the ‘WeMo’ and you can see it here.
Here’s how it works…
You plug your appliance into a special plug which in turn goes into your normal wall socket. You then install a special free app on your phone and link it to your wifi connection and you’re ready to go. That might sound complex but it took me about 5 minutes to do the one time installation.
Once you’re set up you can control connected appliances via the iPhone app remotely from different rooms in the house, from work, the train… anywhere where you can get an Internet connection.
What can you use it for?
There are endless possibilities but a few really handy ones we’ve found are…
– Turning on groups of lights in different areas of the house. If you want to turn on certain lights without having to fumble around for a switch… or break your back turning them on from the mains you can simply press a button on your phone.
– Switching off the TV and other devices that normally go on ‘standby’ from the mains. Appliances like televisions and DVD players use a not insignificant amount of energy even when they’re not switched off from the main plug because they draw power when in standby mode. Using this device you can switch them all off properly without rummaging behind your TV and getting tangled up in a thousand wires.
– Switching on the coffee machine/slow cooker remotely. Want the coffee to be brewed and ready in time for when you wake up? You can switch it on from your bed! Better still you can set up a clever automation (more on this in a moment) so that it turns on at a certain time every day. Or maybe you’ve got a stew on the go? You could switch it on or off from work… or on the train home.
At the moment you can get hold of the WeMo on Amazon for just under £50 here.
I briefly mentioned the ‘automation’ process. The WeMo integrates with something called IFTT which I’ve covered in Insider’s Edge before (you can see my original article on this here). In simple terms it’s a website that lets you automate online tasks… like posting Tweets and Facebook updates etc.
The designers have put in a bit of code that lets you use this website to automate tasks on the WeMo using IFTT (for example like having the electric heater switch on at a certain time… or any of the above).
I’m pretty sure this is going to take off in a big way. Obviously £50 isn’t cheap and if you want to control multiple appliances you may want to by the kit which provides you with additional plugs but it’s worth keeping an eye out to see if the price drops over the coming weeks (especially after Christmas).