Year of the smart home

New programs could see homeowners coming out ahead

milesIf 2007 was the year of the smartphone, then 2017 might be the year of the smart home.

Before 2007, there were cellphones that connected to the Internet, sure. But that year, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. It was the company’s biggest innovation since 1984’s launch of the original Macintosh, and its ripple effect on the entire technology sector continues.

Enthusiasts waited in line all night to get an iPhone and for a tremendous number of people, seeing one was wanting one (although the initial high price tag held a lot of us back until the next year).

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Back to school

Accessible University provides mobility-challenged Calgarians with online resource

Calgarians with limited mobility have access to a new online resource to help make their homes more accessible.

Accessible University, an initiative the non-profit Accessible Housing Calgary organization launched in September, provides room-by-room renovation guides, as well as lists of resources such as contractors and funding assistance.

“We get at least a phone call a day from someone who needs help,” said Nicole Jackson, research and policy co-ordinator with Accessible Housing, which traditionally provides barrier-free living arrangements to low-income disabled Calgarians.

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Speak now

Speech-recognition tech offers in-home potential. But beware

A6

As speech-recognition technology becomes increasingly reliable, it has the potential to become the interface of choice for just about every device we use.

On the surface, it makes sense. After all, people speak at an average of 150 words per minute, while most of us can barely type 40 on a good day.

But as convenient and novel as being able to talk to your computer, thermostat, lights and appliances might be, it comes with a few cautions.

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Sweet security

New-gen systems offer sophisticated safety

A6Randy Larkam sits at his desk in southeast Calgary looking at the sunny backyard of his vacation home in Arizona. The image on his computer screen is overlaid with several transparent tinted rectangles

As we watch, a caretaker enters the frame and checks the pool and surrounding patio.

“There she is,” said Larkam. “Right on time, too.”

The coloured areas on-screen show the motion detection fields of the cameras that monitor the yard. They can be adjusted in real time just by clicking and dragging.

This ain’t your dad’s burglar alarm.

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