Though home automation systems have existed for years, typically helping to control your thermostat or boost security, they can require professional installation and be complicated to operate—not to mention that they can also cost thousands of dollars. Happily, that's starting to change, as a bevy of easy-to-install alternatives are arriving on the scene. They're less intimidating, too, since you can determine the level of sophistication. You get to decide just how smart your home is going to be.
Catching a leak before your basement floods, sending a key to the dog walker or ordering cookies from that Girl Scout on the porch have all become possible -- even if you're 1,000 miles away. Combining your smartphone, your home WiFi network and the right apps can make the average home a lot savvier than it used to be, and give you more freedom, whether you're out of the country or just lounging in your backyard.
Here, 10 systems that promise to make your home a little smarter. —Frank Vizard