Using apps for work? Here's a couple to try at home

So, you're apped-out to the hilt at work. You've figured out what CRM application makes you more productive, what document storage app is the easiest to use.... but, what about when you go home? I recently moved to a new place and took the opportunity to splurge on some new technology I've been eyeing for awhile.

The Nest Thermostat The first one I am most excited about is the Nest thermostat. If you haven't heard of the Nest, think Apple + a thermostat. Yes, literally; the founders are former Apple, Google and Logitech folks.

This ain't your grandma's Honeywell; this thermostat has more technology than the Apollo 11 space shuttle. Some of my favorite features so far:

It programs itself to save energy. Nest is the first thermostat that learns my schedule and preferences. After about a week, it says that it will know my schedule and temperature preferences, then automatically activates features to help save energy. Nest says that the savings could be as much as 20% of your energy bill.

Easy auto-scheduler.  Nest automatically remembers what temperatures I set and uses them to create a custom schedule (which I can still override, if needed).

Auto-away feature. Nest uses activity sensors to sense when nobody's home and turn itself to an energy-saving temperature. They say that Auto-Away works in 90% of homes, even if Nest is in a room you don't use much. It has worked well so far for me.

"Airwave". Because it is not yet summer, I haven't been able to use it yet, but I like the concept. Airwave automatically turns off the AC a few minutes early, but keeps the fan running in order to continue to circulate the cool air still in the vent shafts.

But that's not it.... the coolest feature is the Nest's iPhone  (or Android) application. The Nest app allows me to adjust the temperature and other thermostat settings from my iPhone.

Being that our new house is 3 levels, it is awesome to be able to grab my phone and change the temperature when my wife someone says "I'm cold", rather than having to jump up and run downstairs.

The only draw back I've noticed so far is that some visitors are intimidated to try to change the temperature simply because it doesn't look like a thermostat. But, it is as simple as telling them, "clockwise for heat, counterclockwise for A/C."

D-Link Wireless Network Camera Closed circuit video monitoring used to cost $1000s. Now, there are a multitude of affordable options, with Dropcam and D-Link being the two most popular. After doing a little more research, I chose the D-Link Day/Night Network Camera. While DropCam seemed to be a little higher quality, the D-Link was 50% the cost.

So far, it has been good. It too, has an Android and iPhone app available, making it easy to monitor anything from anywhere.

Two shortfalls of the D-Link (both were expected after reading the reviews prior to making the purchase):

  1. The audio portion of the camera is basically useless, I've muted it by default to avoid all the static.
  2. The camera angle is fixed once it is set up; there is no mechanism to modify the angle using the app.

All-in-all, I am happy with both pieces of hardware, as well as iPhone apps. Honestly, other than the fact these pieces of hardware are now internet-enabled, the underlying technology has been around for years (i.e programmable thermostats and closed-circuit video monitoring). What is new is that this technology is now accessible to anyone because it is now 1) easier to set up and use 2) increasingly affordable.

What is also exciting is that relatively minor tweaks would be necessary in order to use either of these applications in a commercial setting.

Anyone else using this or similar technology in a more commercial environment? Recommendations?