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posted: 9/8/2013 1:00 AM

An app for motorized window shades

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By Rosemary Sadez Friedmann
Scripps Howard News Service

If you have a cellphone, then you are halfway to adding a new tech feature to your life if you should so choose.

So what is it? It's an app for your Apple phone that allows you to control the motorized window treatments in your house.

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Yes, you still have to get the treatments installed, but, nevertheless, it's a great idea.

Motorized shades have been popular for a very long time, so that part isn't new. But being able to control them from your phone is.

So why would you even want to add another technology thingy to your life? Well, if you have skylights, you know that at times during the day the glare or heat that comes from the sun pouring in through those skylights can be brutal. Having a covering for them is a good idea. Reaching them to make the covering work is easily done by remote from your phone. Some windows are hard to reach, so the phone remote application is ideal for those windows, too.

OK -- so we've had powered window treatments for some time. What is so special about the phone app and these new motorized treatments? Well, you don't need an electrician to get them to work, there is no wiring that needs to be installed and the app is free.

According to Hunter Douglas, the inventors of this technology, the shade-control app is available as a free download with no service fees. The setup is easy and requires minimal hardware. After a few short, preliminary steps, the app lets you move all the Hunter Douglas window coverings in your home or by room at the same time or one shade at a time, in real time. Or, you can use the timer feature to schedule it for later. You can choose to operate by scene (activity), by room or by time.

The timer feature is ideal for summer heat so the shades automatically lower at whatever time of the afternoon you choose. If you like to awaken to sunlight, you can program the bedroom shades to open at dawn or whatever time you choose.

Some of the shades operate from the top down so you can let light in but keep the privacy. You know how some of the shades are made up of vanes that open and close without the entire shade going up or down? The app allows you to adjust those vanes as much or as little as you'd like with a swipe on the app's slider bars.

Sounds like fun. And yes, you can control your window treatments even when you are away from home.

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