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ONLY ON KOLD: Out-smarting smart homes

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

When you pictured "the future" as a kid, did it look a little something like "The Jetsons?"

Maybe home automation can't make your dinner or brush your teeth, but "smart homes" are becoming more mainstream and more affordable for Average Joes.

they make life easier - but there can be one big price to pay for all of that technology.

With the touch of a button, the lights go up, the shades go down, the alarm switches on and the TV appears.

Smart homes used to be only for the Bill Gates' of the world.

"The cost has come down dramatically."

For the Munoz family, an AT &T smart home offers peace of mind.

"I have two cameras basically where my kids are at all times."

Little Nathan has autism, and if you know anything about kids with autism, "they tend to wander - some - they tend to wander."

Now their security system keeps the boys safely inside.

"It automatically locks. It just locked by itself."

Erick gets a message on his tablet or smart phone any time anything happens.

The flip side of this high tech way of controlling your home is all about convenience to the extreme.

"If I hit movie, you'll see interesting things happen: lights go off in rooms, blackout shades come down and you'll see the TV much more clearly."

Scott Newnam, president of Audio Advice, and his team, install systems that allow you to control just about everything from an iPad - it is all so easy.

"TVs, music, lighting in house, security, camera systems, climate control, pool spa weather and even energy control with power in the house."

Saving time and saving energy. They're servicing 7 or 8 times as many customers now.

These houses are tricked out, super expensive, but the average job, he says, costs the customer about $2,000.

"I think that the basic home automation will be almost as prevalent as cable TV today."

"A rule of thumb when it comes to consumer tech: the easier it is for you, the easier it is for hackers to get in."

She is particularly worried about more do-it-yourself kits making their way onto the market. You'd pull a system out of the box, install it yourself without an expert, and if you don't make security a priority, it's possible they can break into the video cameras and see inside your house or control your thermostat.

Just this month a computer science student pleaded guilty to hacking the computers of Miss Teen USA and other young women, spying on them through webcams.

Officials say users must ask about the privacy policy of any system they use.

"If you're transmitting smart data to reduce costs or create safety security or comfort, who else is looking at the data?"

And make sure the networks transmitting that data are strong.

Scott says his company puts privacy and security first.

"In homes with automation we put in much better networks; security much tighter."

Same goes for AT&T because they know a family, like the Munoz family, is counting on it.

Also, Scott says before you have a smart home installed, you should ask if the company is registered with the state as a security system provider.

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