Control Your Home--From Your Phone

New gadgets bring household automation into the smartphone era

In 2011, a startup called nest introduced a new thermostat. With its sleek design, circular color touchscreen and approachable interface, it felt more like an iPod than a piece of HVAC equipment. Which makes sense, since Nest was co-founded by Tony Fadell, Apple's longtime iPod head honcho.

By proving that something as mundane as a thermostat doesn't have to be mundane, Nest helped inspire a generation of home-automation products that are now arriving in force. Other distinguished alumni of the consumer-electronics business are joining the fray, including industrial-design guru Yves BĂ©har, known for fashionable gizmos like the Jawbone headset. He's one...

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