Small pods keep Dickinson family wired
Linger a bit too long on the porch of Roger De La Cruz’s Dickinson home, and you’ll be greeted by De La Cruz from somewhere inside. He can see you on his computer, connected to a small camera by a wireless internet connection. He gets a warning that someone is there before the doorbell rings.
“I can watch my daughter leaving the house in the morning, then walking up the street to the school bus stop,” De La Cruz said. “But without a strong wireless signal, the camera doesn’t have a fluid motion capture.”
De La Cruz, who works for Xfinity, a subsidiary of internet, cable TV and telephone service provider Comcast Corp., has installed xFi pods — small Wi-Fi stations that plug into a standard wall fixture — in key locations around the house, both upstairs and down, to assure a constant signal to cameras out front and in the back, by the door leading to the pool, as well as to wireless devices throughout the house. The signal enters the house through a modem in an enclosure upstairs and is picked up throughout the house by the pods.
“It’s like an internet signal bouncing from tower to tower to reach your house,” De La Cruz said. “It’s the same thing but the signal is bouncing from pod to pod to assure a strong signal in every corner of the house.”
The small pods plug into a standard outlet and look similar to phone chargers. The wireless signal in the house connects De La Cruz’s laptop computer, a central control station, to the temperature controls for the pool. It turns on lights remotely from pretty much anywhere, directly from De La Cruz’s smartphone.
“If I’m coming home at night and have been away, I can turn the lights on remotely,” he said.
Using a remote dimmer control, he can make it look as if they’re at home when they’re not. The Wi-Fi connection powers his home security system as well.
De La Cruz installed light control switches himself and said the task was fairly simple. With the xFi pods placed throughout the house — they cost $119 for three or $199 for six — there’s never any question that this wired family — his children, his wife and in-laws who share a suite upstairs — will have a strong enough signal to use their devices at the same time, say after dinner in the evening.
“Everybody can be online at the same time,” he said. “After dinner, when everybody’s off to their rooms, with the pods I can be out front, all the way up and down the street visiting with neighbors and still be online, using Wi-Fi instead of cellular data.”
De La Cruz turned off cellular data altogether on a T-Mobile account and has never needed it, saving money on his Wi-Fi bill over the long run, he said.
Wireless providers have tried to come up with devices that will cover a whole house and a whole family’s needs with each family member, on average, using two to three devices, and the pods have taken care of that problem as the demands of customers have become greater, De La Cruz said.
Upstairs, a home theater is remotely controlled — lights, action, video — streaming media that’s projected onto a large screen.
Outside the theater, a children’s playroom is littered with a large number of toy horses in various sizes. They’re his daughter’s, and none of them are wired, De La Cruz said.
There are multiple systems on the market now, ways to extend Wi-Fi capability in any type of house, old or new. De La Cruz opted for the Xfinity system for obvious reasons. A work truck in the driveway advertises his employer across the side doors.