Still in its nascent stages, the trend toward home automation is slowly being realized with new products and services that allow people to control their lights, locks, music, TV, and heating systems with the touch of a button -- whether they're home or not.
The flagship product in the home automation field is still the Nest thermostat, the second generation of which was released this year. But it's hardly the only way consumers are able to monitor and control some of their homes' systems digitally.
Lowe's and AT&T both announced home-monitoring services. Sony and Control4 worked together to bring a full Control4 "brain" into Sony's new ES line of AV receivers. Microsoft began testing a prototype of the home-automation operating system, HomeOS, it's been working on for a few years. And some standalone devices like the SmartLinc wall hub let you control individual lights with a smartphone.