After setup, you can teach the smart home to think for itself, freeing you from using an app every time you want to change the temperature or turn on the lights. That means creating automated actions; because each platform can talk to all the gadgets you have online, they can suggest scenarios and guide you through the setup process. Here are a few examples of what your smart home can do:

Schedule Method

Create standard operating procedures signaled by specific times of day.

Sunset: Close blinds and increase interior brightness by 50 percent.

9 p.m.: Cut power to playroom TV.

Tuesdays 1 p.m.: Allow cleaning crew inside.

Stimuli Method

Triggers take input from a sensor (or sensors) and translate it into an action to be carried out by another device.

Movement in the bedroom after 6 a.m.; Power on coffeepot.

Opened living-room window; Turn off AC and turn on floor fan.

Homeowner leaves house; Lock the door and lower the thermostat.

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Popular Science as part of our Smart Homes feature. Click here to read more about how to make your home intelligent.