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New technology allows home owners to raise and lower blinds as needed throughout the day remotely.

What if your window treatments, lighting fixtures and thermostat could behave as if they were reading your mind and adjust on their own? What if these functions could be programmed while you're away from home?

Those were the "what if" questions that homeowner Steven Louganis pondered when he unexpectedly found splitting his time between two homes earlier this year. "I had just settled in my newly renovated house in Peterborough when a contract job suddenly required me to spend half of my work week in my family home in Mississauga," he says.

The tech-savvy health-care worker realized he needed a system that would allow him to remotely control the heat of his Peterborough property while also enhancing home security. "I didn't have anyone in either home who could do things like turn on and off the lights when I was away or – most importantly for me – change up the blinds and window shades to make it appear someone was there."

Luckily for homeowners like Louganis, there are numerous easy-to-use tech apps and devices to satisfy residential needs. The new wireless PowerView Motorization system from Hunter Douglas, for instance, allows window shades and blinds to be controlled remotely.

Sue Rainville, director of marketing for the Brampton-based maker of shades, blinds and shutters, says that "intelligent" window treatments can be programmed to adjust automatically, for different times of the day and different privacy settings, through a smartphone or tablet, or by using the system's Pebble remote control.



Turn appliances off anytime from anywhere through your smartphone with the Hive Active Plug. CENTRICA CONNECTED HOME CANADA


Smart home-tech devices are definitely making inroads across Canada, according to Cristina Barlow, president of Toronto-based Centrica Connected Home Canada Inc., which markets the Hive suite of do-it-yourself smart home products, including light bulbs, plugs and thermostats, all controlled through a central hub.

"We're at a tipping point, with people seeing first-hand how smart homes are working in their day-to-day lives. A smart home is one that works for you, instead of you working for your home," she says.

The hub allows homeowners to remotely control their heating and air conditioning, to turn their lights on and off, to detect motion inside their home, to sense when windows and doors are open, and to switch appliances on and off.

While controlling lights, heating and appliances from an app may not seem revolutionary, it's easy to see the potential benefits. As Barlow points out, a parent rocking a baby to sleep can easily turn down the lights and lower the room temperature without getting up and disturbing the child. Heading home from work on a cold winter day? Simply flick on the furnace remotely so the house is toasty warm when you walk through the door. Meanwhile, travellers can activate Hive's "Mimic Mode" to turn lights off and on remotely – and at random times – to make it appear that the home is occupied.

As Barlow says, "Like many things, when you discover technology that enhances your life, it's hard to imagine life without it."


This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Edge Content Studio. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.