Business news from the Fredericksburg region.

RSS feed of this blog

TECH TOYS: AT&T’s Digital Life could save his bacon

 You probably saw the AT&T Digital Life home security and automation commercial during the Olympics:

A father asks his children if they left the house in good shape. They blithely say yes. He glances at his smartphone, shakes his head wearily, then remotely turns off the TV and lights, shuts off running water in the kitchen and locks the front door.

In our family, it’d be my wife Lisa looking at her phone, shaking her head and telling me I left the front door open. Again.

I was in a hurry.

I have a lot on my mind.

I’m an idea guy, not a details guy.

The sun got in my eyes.

It wasn’t my fault.

Anyway, I was intrigued by the commercial, and Rodger Pulley of AT&T agreed to demo Digital Life for me at the company’s Central Park store.

The system will text or email you a picture or video if there’s motion at a time when no one should be home. More interestingly to me, you can opt to be notified if there’s not motion when there should be.

This is good, Pulley said, if you need to keep an eye on elderly parents.

That could generate some false alarms.

“Is Dad dead or watching TV?” our son Robbie might say as he looked at his phone.

“Don’t know,” our son Jay would reply. “How can you tell the difference?”

A door lock with a keypad allows users to program up to 10 different codes for entry. So you know when family members, babysitters, house cleaners, or whoever else you trust with a digital “key” are coming in, and you can set the system to alert you when they do.

AT&T launched the system last year and it’s now in 63 markets, including ours.

The Smart Security package costs $39 a month after an initial on-sale price payment of $149 for equipment and installation. It allows users to monitor and access their home’s security system from their PC, tablet or smartphone; get text and video alerts of what’s going on at home; arm or disarm alarms; and monitor doors, windows and motion sensors.

The Simple Security package, which is $29 a month after a $149 initial payment for equipment and installation, includes door and window sensors, a wireless keypad, indoor siren and a keychain remote.

Pulley says you’ll need a $49 smart plug to turn some devices into “smart” ones that may be controlled remotely. He says he got one for his wife’s curling iron because she often finds herself on the road wondering if she left it on and it might burn the house down.

The system seems particularly useful for D.C. commuters, who can adjust the temperature in their home from the office. And when sitting in gridlock on Interstate 95, they can do things like start dinner—or maybe just turn their curling irons on and off the alleviate the boredom.

Michael Zitz lives in Spotsylvania County.