Four apartment-friendly smart home devices you don’t need landlord approval to install

ESurance

This is a guest blog post from the content team at Esurance.

Smart home tech is in high demand and for good reason — it makes life a bit simpler, safer, and more convenient. There are smartphone apps and connected devices that can control just about everything in a home, from the outdoor watering system to the kitchen appliances to the garage door. But if you rent your place, it’s easy to feel left out of the smart home movement, since you often need landlord approval before installing anything.

But renters, take heart! You can still have smart home technology in your apartment — you just have to know which devices to get. The key is to stick to gadgets that don’t require installation and can be brought with you when you move out. Here, we explore some of the best smart home devices for renters.

  1. Smart Security

Chances are, you’re not permitted to change permanent fixtures like locks and electrical wiring if you’re renting your home (unless you have landlord approval). Luckily, there are many affordable, smart plug-and-play security devices that can provide increased security for your rental.

The best news for renters? Smart locks are getting, well, smarter. Look for products that install over your pre-existing deadbolt so you can avoid having to get landlord approval to use them. The locks should also allow you to use your regular landlord-issued key to enter the apartment.

Additionally, monitoring devices like smart security cameras and motion sensors can be set up in windows to detect (and deter) potential intruders. While they’ll send you a smartphone alert if they notice unusual activity, keep in mind that those alerts aren’t monitored by the authorities. If you receive a phone notification, it’s up to you to call the police.

  1. Smart Switches

Though you may not be able to re-wire smart switches into your apartment, you can purchase a smart switch and avoid the hassle. These plug into your existing outlets and offer Wi-Fi connectivity. You can plug anything from your appliances to your lamps into a smart switch and control them from your smartphone. This is not only convenient, but can also help improve the safety of your place. Forgot to turn off the oven? Now you can switch it off from wherever you are with a tap to your smartphone

  1. Smart Lightbulbs

Yep, even lightbulbs can be smart these days. Smart LED lightbulbs are as easy to install as any old run-of-the-mill bulbs, but they can be set to turn on when your doorbell rings or your security alarm goes off. Some can even function as Bluetooth speakers and can be voice-controlled through a smart home hub or virtual assistant. Many are even equipped with batteries so they stay on during a power outage. Who thought lightbulbs could have so many functions?

  1. Smart Vents

Thought things couldn’t get any techier than smart lightbulbs? Think again! Portable smart devices are taking over the market, so much so that you can now purchase technology that attaches to often-overlooked areas of your apartment like your vents. A removable smart device helps regulate the air flow in your rental by allowing all the vents to “talk” to one another.

Is your bedroom always freezing while the rest of your place is perfectly comfortable? Smart vents will communicate with each other to optimize your heating and cooling settings depending on which room you’re in. Plus, they can save you some money on your utility bill. How’s that for a win-win?

 

No matter what changes you’re looking to make to your apartment, it’s a good idea to read through your rental agreement before installing anything, just to be safe. And in the ever-changing market of smart home devices, it’s also beneficial to do your research to see what kinds of devices are available and compatible with your place. Now that there are so many renter-friendly options, you can use smart home technology to make apartment life simpler, safer and less expensive.

Jon Snyder is a Product Manager at Esurance, overseeing countrywide design of property insurance products. Jon has over 25 years of industry experience in product management, design and management roles as well as claims roles at Esurance and other major industry carriers.

Technological advancements continue to shape big business

 

How much are you paying for utilities?-Written by Erik Sargent

The world of technology evolves at a rapid pace, with changes being made and advancements happening almost by the second as people and machines become smarter and smarter, creating profound impacts on the daily lives of almost everyone.

Even with something as simple as a smart phone, people are granted the power to do tasks previously unimaginable, and we are always a touch away from anything we can think of. This rapid technological advancement can be felt in virtually every industry of life, most importantly business.

From the way we buy things and get them delivered, to the method in which we choose to transport ourselves to a new destination, there has been major technological developments in every field, which has affected big business companies tremendously. Self-driving cars have consistently found themselves in the news, and seem to be not far off from reality.

Just last month, the state of California cleared testing paths for autonomous vehicles, as the state holds more companies producing this technology than any other state in the country.

“California has more manufacturers testing autonomous vehicles than any other state and today’s rules continue our leadership with this emerging technology,” said California Transportation Agency Secretary Brian P. Kelly in a press release from the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. “These rules protect public safety, promote innovation, and lay out the path for future testing and deployment of driverless technology. This rulemaking is the next step in working with stakeholders to get this right.”

Companies like Uber and Google appear to be in the lead for advancements in this technology, and could change the way people get from place to place, and how products make their way to customers when ordering online.

“These rules expand our existing autonomous vehicle testing program to include testing vehicles where no driver is present,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto in the same press release. “This is the next step in eventually allowing driverless autonomous vehicles on California roadways.”

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Photo courtesy of Menet Aero

Another major technology that has found its way into the national discussion is the use of unmanned aerial systems, or as they’re better known, drones.

Amazon made the first national news media splash for public commercial drone usage with the proposed idea of drones delivering packages from the online shopping giant. According to Joe Hupy, the chief technical officer of Menet Aero  – a company founded to provide professional commercial UAS solutions to a variety of industries – the delivery service with drones is far off, but the technological uses are already being felt with businesses across the country.

“There’s a lot of hype surrounding the drone delivery stuff, but if you look at people who have subscribed to the Amazon drone delivery pilot projects, they stopped because they get tired of fishing it off the roof,” Hupy said. “There’s a lot of stuff out there that people in the media will cling to, and one of them is the delivery component, but the delivery component is farther away than self-driving cars because you need to be able to manage air space.”

Drone usage will hinge directly on the regulations that come from the Federal Aviation Administration, and with drones being such a new technology, there is still countless hours of work to be done figuring out the proper guidelines for commercial usage. Hupy did mention that some of the basic rules for drones include not flying the machines over crowds, keeping them under 400 feet, and making sure they are visible at all times while in air.

While people get hung up one delivery services, Hupy explained there is currently too much gray area for that to come to fruition at the moment. However, drones are already being utilized in other practices.

“For example, I did some work with a trial attorney. The trial attorney wanted to bring the jury to the scene of an accident,” Hupy said. “He had no way to display how flat a road was without taking the jury to the site, which is really costly. With a drone, you can fly that, you model that with an animated fly-through that before would have been impossible. With that drone, that was well within the means of his budget.”

The future of drones will be focused on these types of situations more than people realize, helping people gather data and analyze situations in business fields like construction, government, utilities, and energy solutions.

“The future of drones is in many ways using them to gather information and data in ways that before could only be used by the military and big science projects,” Hupy said. “This gets a lot of these different types of markets, such as construction companies, looking to monitor construction activities and county governments looking for zoning, or looking at how much area is permeable versus impermeable. There is a lot than can be done that before was just too expensive to do.”

One major company that has remained at the forefront of technological advancement is the nationally recognized moving company TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, which has found a way to implement new technologies that not only boost production for the company, but also provide a better and smoother customer experience.

An exciting development is taking place at the San Diego franchise of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, as they work to implement new drive cam technologies aimed at providing more of a situation awareness for movers and drivers in the trucks.

“San Diego is piloting a new program by Lyxt, and the new program is called Unisyn. It is merging the event-based monitoring utilized in DriveCam with ‘always on monitoring’ to capture all events, even if an event does not trigger it,” said James Silvers, IT Desktop Administrator at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®’s Home Office. “It is envisioned to assist the franchises with training and being able to review previous videos for incidents that may have occurred on the ramp, vehicle accidents and close calls.

Another technology TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is set to launch in 2017 is the Value Flex® moving service, which gives customers an additional long-distance moving option with reduced pricing for those flexible with their move dates.

Value Flex® will run through hubs featured at various TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise locations across the country, helping the company move people anywhere across the map. State-of-the-art containers are used to hold customers’ belongings, and there is flexible scheduling for pickup and delivery.

“Every Hub will utilize tablets and will fill out the majority of the paper work digitally,” Silvers said. “We are working on a customer tracking portal that will send each customer an email with the current position of their container two times per day until the move is scheduled to be completed.”

The company plans on launching the new long-distance moving option at the beginning of May.