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Grandma, Little Billy will never be alone

Little Billy and Grandma are never

home alone if you subscribe to Comcast’s Xfinity Home service, which rolled out in the Fredericksburg area last week.

The broadband-based platform features home security, home control and energy management, all of which can be monitored and adjusted on the go.

There’s a bit of a Big Brother aspect to this kind of service, which allows users to monitor their homes via streaming video on their laptops, work computers and even via an Xfinity Home app on cellphones or tablets.

“You can install it in the home of an elderly parent who’s living alone and see if there’s no motion by 9 a.m.” said Comcast spokesman Frank Purcell. “If mom isn’t out of bed, it will send you an alert and you can call and make sure she’s OK.”

This is one of those technological advances that sounds good as a concept, but can go horribly, horribly wrong. Let’s say Grandma has made a new friend and he has a sleepover. You may be alerted to suspicious motion that you really don’t want to see.

And that possibility could cause some real danger, because Grandma might end up falling off a stepladder as she tries to disable the security camera before a hot date.

Or there could be an unexpected result that’s positive. Grandma might decide to go back to college to take an ethical hacking class to make it appear she’s knitting during the time she’s having that date.

Even if poor Grandma never has a date, sonny boy will be calling and rousting her out of bed when she’s trying to sleep in, just to make sure she’s still breathing.

In addition to allowing 24/7 monitoring of the home on the go, making it impossible for dear old Grandma to have any fun even when you’re on vacation on the other side of the country, Xfinity Home allows customers to:

Turn the thermostat up and down from work and from the car. This could be turned into a drinking game in the summer, when the temperature hits 100 degrees. You’re sitting in a bar with your buddies, watching the dog on the security camera and you keep fiddling with the thermostat, betting on how hot it has to get before Fido keels over.

Save energy by allowing you to turn the lights on and off remotely, which also creates some entertaining possibilities when combined with the streaming video capability.

Get an email when the kids come home from school, or if they decide not to come home when they’re supposed to. It’s a real snitch.

Get police and fire department alarm alert protection supported by around the clock professional monitoring. That’s good. But it’s also a little creepy.

The Xfinity Home Preferred Package starts at $39.95 per month. Purcell said Xfinity Home customers are eligible to receive up to a 20 percent discount on their homeowners’ insurance.

It comes with a tablet-like touch screen controller for use in the home that also allows users to check the weather, news, traffic and ball game scores—when you’re not spying on Grandma.

Go to xfinity.com/home for more.

Michael Zitz: 540/846-5163

mikez@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/business/2012/06/29/grandma-little-billy-will-never-be-alone/