Remember the Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland? From 1957 to 1967, the home wowed visitors with cutting-edge technology like intercoms and microwaves. In a similar spirit, local cable companies have begun selling services to make today's homes more automated.
New ways to secure, monitor and control your home were made available Tuesday to Cox Communications customers in Southern California. A new monthly service lets users monitor their home via smart phone or work computer.
The plans costs $30-$40 per month, plus a $100 setup fee and charges for security cameras and other equipment, said Ryland Madison, director of product marketing for Cox.
For $30 a month, customers get door and window alarms, a motion detector, text message alerts and a wireless touchscreen device to arm and disarm the system. The wi-fi system is backed up by cellular service in case of an Internet outage.
For $40 a month, customers can also remotely control lights, small appliances and heating/air conditioning. The $40 customers also get video surveillence with up to six cameras (sold separately), along with safety monitoring for smoke, flooding and carbon monoxide.
Each plan offers constant monitoring with live operators who first try to alert homeowners if an alarm is triggered. If the homeowner doesn't respond with a security password, police or firefighters are called.
Cox first rolled out the services last year in Tucson, Madison said. Although the company would not say how many people signed up, Cox is shooting for 11 percent of its customers—the national average for home security systems, he said.
At least two other cable companies—TimeWarner and Comcast—provide similar services, he said.
And if you're worried about cable employees peering into your home through the surveillance cameras, Madison promised only customers can see what shows up on their motion-triggered cameras.
Madison said many customers buy the system for security, but wind up using it for other reasons. He uses it to check up on his dogs while at work. Another Cox employee keeps track of his mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, by receiving a text message each time the front door opens.
Video security costs extra because of the cameras, Madison said. The most expensive camera works indoors and outdoors and shoots in color, with an infrared setting for night surveillance. It costs $189.