09 January, 2017
Many people traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada last week for the 50th Consumer Electronics Show, or CES. The show is said to have the largest collection of new electronic devices in the world.
The 2017 show had many examples of "smart home" devices. "Smart home" technology is designed to make life easier for people by letting computers control many things inside our homes.
One such device actually begins working outside the home, when someone arrives and rings the doorbell.
Jeremy Warren is with smart home service provider Vivint.
"When someone comes to your front door and rings the doorbell, the light can turn on immediately. I get a notification when I'm halfway around the world that someone came, and I can start talking to the person who's at my front door, and I can say, ‘Oh, here let me let you in.' I can unlock the door for them very easily."
Another use of smart home technology is being able to watch what is taking place in your home – whether you are just around the corner or half way around the world. Devices can even let homeowners look in on dogs, cats or other pets when they are away.
One electronics maker launched a device that lets people see and interact with their animals when they are away. The device, from Petcube, lets you remotely watch and talk to your pet through a personal device, according to a company official. It can even give the pet a treat – if you approve and order it.
For heating or cooling, there is a smart thermostat. This device can also send you a message if a big storm causes leaks or flooding. "We're trying to catch it with just a few drips before it becomes a real big problem," said Mike Sale of iDevices.
Another product, from iDevices, can turn your smartphone into a remote control for an electric fireplace.
While most of the devices can be controlled from anywhere, they also work in the same way when you are at home. Some devices, like Amazon's Echo and Google Home, even let you use voice commands to talk to them.
A concern for many homeowners is the possibility that someone else might find a way to attack these smart home devices. An official from Vivint said his company is sure that only owners of the home can gain use of information on the devices.
Warren Katz from iDevices said his company employs engineers from the defense industry to help prevent hacking.
"So they've spent time working on the Patriot Missile and others, and we spend an awful lot of time ensuring that our products are both safe and safe from attack."
Many of these devices at the Consumer Electronics Show were available before. But now they communicate better and can learn repeat behavior and habits. All of them can be bought separately, many for less than $100.
I'm John Russell.
George Putic reported this story for VOANews. Bryan Lynn adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
doorbell – n. a bell outside a home that people usually ring by pushing a button
notification – n. a message used to carry information
around the corner – phrase. very close; happening soon
thermostat – n. device that adjusts the temperature of a room
drip – n. small drop of liquid
remote – adj. far away
ensure – v. make sure something happens
habit – n. something someone does often in a regular and repeated way