Learning Thermostat by Nest Labs
Learning Thermostat by Nest Labs (Nest)

Home automation and smart home appliances are taking a big step into the mainstream with the launch of a dedicated Amazon portal.

The online retailer has this week launched a dedicated section on its U.S. site to help consumers discover and track down and basically make sense of a growing number of gadgets aimed at boosting a house or apartment's intelligence quotient.

Splitting products into three broad categories -- Energy Management; Entertainment; and Monitoring -- for simpler search, the site also features buying guides and videos to help users understand what's out there and the benefits on offer.

Home automation is nothing new: a number of companies offer bespoke packages to the rich and famous that link all gadgets and appliances up to a central remote control and monitoring panel.

However, thanks to the growing ubiquity of tablets and smartphones (and therefore apps), improvements in Bluetooth technology and the falling price of sensors, 'smart' products needing little more than a wifi connection and a mobile device in order for them to work are starting to roll out on to the consumer market.

To date, the smart appliance that has made the biggest splash is the Nest Thermostat, which learns about its owner's life and preferences and also monitors external information, such as the weather forecast, in order to cut heating and air conditioning costs.


Other devices that are starting to gain traction include Philips Hue lighting range which can be operated, programmed and customized via an iPhone or iPad.

A quick glance at Amazon's storefront reveals that it already offers 3,913 products that can be categorized as home automation products.