Tag Archives: Home Automation

Automatic Soap Dispensers

I have always been fascinated with automated systems. Automated processes are almost always smart ways to cut efforts of performing redundant and obvious activities.  

Let me elaborate this by giving example of automated doors. The idea is to avoid activity of ‘pushing/pulling the door’. If any person is approaching the door it is most likely that the person will push/pull the door to pass through it. The idea is most effitiently utilized at entrances to public places, like airport or hospitals.

This same principle can be applied to your household appliances and it works pretty well for automatic soap dispensers. After trying about a couple of soap dispensers and returning them, I came accross one brand which lived upto it’s promises. Simplehuman Automatic Soap Dispenser is one of the best auto soap dispensers in the market. I would like to say it’s the best you can get under $50. 

   

Above two models are the most selling ones and ideal for bathroom and kitchen respectively. I have tried, BetterHomes, iCooker and some other wierd brand before ending up with Simplehuman.  Choose wisely.

Of course, Simplehuman auto dispensers  are cheap on amazon and other online stores but, you can also find them in your local stores in case you want to return them. In fact, I got them from Macy’s at a discounted price which was definitely lesser than any online stores. Be aware that both models above have chrome finish. There are a few other colored options available which are about $10 cheaper than chrome ones.

Security Camera: Dropcam Pro

After using SwannSmart ADS-450 for about an year, I came across a new cloud cam called Dropcam. 

If you don’t know what cloud camera is, here is something for you;

Cloud cameras are new generation of surveillance cameras with capability of storing data on the internet, in the cloud. One of the obvious reasons to have a cloud based storage is high availability. Means, you can always access your contents whenever and from wherever you want to. Also, another major benefit is that all your data stays online that means away from your physical location. That means, even if any unfortunate event occurs and your camera gets destroyed or stolen everything it saw before going offline will still be available. This fact is not true when it comes to old fashioned video surveillance systems as they store all the data locally which can be stolen or be destroyed by flood or fire incidences.

How does Dropcam uses cloud?

Dropcam and Dropcam Pro use their own cloud service to store surveillance feeds. Unlike other small budget cloud cameras, Dropcam cameras upload continuous video feeds online. Depending on the cloud plan users can have unto 30 days of online cloud recording. This recording is then accessible via dropcam.com. Dropcam could has bank level encryption to keep user data secure. 

Dropcam Models

Dropcam has two models Dropcam and Dropcam Pro, below is the comparison as displayed on Dropcam.com 

Why Dropcam over others?

The major advantage of having Dropcam as your surveillance camera is that it stores whole video feed online with highest quality offers in current market. Apart from video feed recording, Dropcam apps are available on iOS, Android and also accessible via website. Following are pros of Dropcam cameras;

Video cloud recording – Depending on the subscription plan users can store 7 or 30 days of data
Two way audio – Hear what you see and make yourself heard on the other side
Digital zoom – 8x zoom to see things closer
Clear image feature – One click and see zoomed area sharper, yes the way we saw in Bond movies
Scheduled recording – Schedule when Dropcam should record.
Scheduled alerts – Get alerts only when required.
Integration with Nest thermostat – Users can sync Dropcam with Nest. So when nest is on ‘Away’, Dropcam starts recording.

Dropcam can be purchased at dropcam.com and at major retailers. Dropcam is sold for $149 and Dropcam Pro comes with price tag of $199 for it’s extra features.

Security Camera: SwannSmart Camera ADS-450

Days of recording your security footages on local drives and paying for high end security hardware are over. Today consumers can record their security camera feeds online. 

Why to have a cloud storage?

One of the obvious reasons to have a cloud based storage is high availability. Means, you can always access your contents whenever and from wherever you want to. Also, another major benefit is that all your data stays online that means away from your physical location. That means, even if any unfortunate event occurs and your camera gets destroyed or stolen everything it saw before going offline will still be available. This fact is not true when it comes to old fashioned video surveillance systems as they store all the data locally which can be stolen or be destroyed by flood or fire incidences. 

How does Swann use cloud?

Swann cameras use Seedonk cloud service to store images online. That’s correct ‘images’ and not the video recording. Camera software senses the change in image/situation/lighting and then uploads those frames to the could. 
Even though the number of pics it uploads is limited to 1 image per second, the solution is decent for cheap price of $6/month. If you only want basic home security swann cloud cameras are the solution.

Features like unlimited data storage, smart notifications to your cell phones make cloud cameras better than regular suveillance systems. The requiremends are better wifi router, basic knowledge to browse internet for setup and faster internet speed.

Competitors like Belkin, D-Link

Bottom line

ADS-450 SwannSmart Wi-Fi Network Camera with Secure Cloud Storage is a very good solution for low price home security. Click here for price comparison. Swann has variety of cameras you can hit swann.com to give it a look.

Nest thermostat 4.3 update comes with new look and features

Nest is a smart thermostat by Nest Labs. Unlike their attention seeking smoke and fire alarm (Nest Protect) this flag ship product has been very successful. The thermostat has smart features like home and away modes, automatic scheduling, heat-cool combined temperature mode, remote access and many more, read here


According to Nest there are three major improvements to be observed after new 4.3 software update.

• Enhanced Auto-Schedule – Auto-Schedule can now help you save up to 6% more on your heating and cooling bills by learning new schedules quickly and adapting to changes better. So when your schedule shifts – like when summer’s over and the kids are back at school – Nest can now catch on faster that the temperature adjustments you’re making are part of a new pattern rather than just one-off changes.

• Quick View – One of our biggest customer requests has always been to show the time and outside temperature on the thermostat. So now we’ve made that info – plus the basics of what your thermostat is up to – a lot easier to reach. Push the ring once and you’ll see weather, outdoor temp and humidity. Turn the ring and you’ll see a quick summary of everything you need to know, like how much energy you used yesterday or what’s next on your schedule. Instead of having to scroll through settings and menus, all the info you need for the day will be right on the display.

• System Test – To make sure your system is running – heating when you turn on heat, cooling when you turn on the air conditioning – your thermostat can run you through a System Test. It’ll walk you through basic functions so you can spot and solve any issues. The Nest app will also be updated this week to include System Test.

How will I get this update?

Nest software updates are over the air, that means you do not need to connect Nest thermostat to your computer or even open smart phone app to update the software. These OTA updates are automatic and will be pushed to your Nest thermostat automatically. Nest Labs mentioned that it might take upto this weekend to reach that update to your Nest. If you don’t get an update in next few days then you shoud reach out to customer support to make sure you get one.

Nest either needs to be on away mode or not heating/cooling and it shouldn’t have any connection issues. If you have any connection issues please resolve them before you can expect any software update.

How would I know if my Nest software has been updated?

This is an easy question with respect to this update as you will see whole new interface. Also you can go to schedule and check for the update icon for the date of software update. Check the image below you’ll get the idea.