Tech innovation shows no sign of slowing down and this is especially true within the world of home gadgets. The sheer number of items available to buy for your home is staggering; as their prices often are. Competition is heating up as companies vie to put their latest inventions in the spotlight and reap the rewards from increased sales. So just how far has technology managed to secure its reach into our homes?
Define your level of interaction with new technology
The benefits of creating a more connected home seem to be myriad: save time by automating laborious processes, save money by using resources more effectively, and have greater control over all of the various devices and elements within your home. In short, you can make your possessions start actively working for you. Of course, in balance to these positive outcomes there are numerous pitfalls to be conscious of. Data privacy is a hot topic at the moment, and it’s worth noting that the connected home gathers an enormous amount of information about you. However, with the growing acceptance of an IoT future, smarts homes seem to be the focus.
Whether you are committing serious money and envisaging something along the lines of the Crestron home or are simply looking for an entry point into the possibilities of the Internet of Things, there are gadgets a plenty out there for everyone. Here we take a look at the 6 best areas of connected home tech that you can start enjoying today.
Before launching into the physical products which you can install in your home, let’s start with a platform that allows you to sync up all the different devices and apps you own. IFTTT, or If Not This Then That, is a free service that enables you to create a chain of commands which trigger different actions in each of your devices via so-called Applets. For instance: create an automatic link between your Amazon Alexa to-dos and your Google Calendar, or sync all of your social media so that posts are sent out natively across all platforms at the same time.
There are a number of different home assistants on the market right now with ever expanding powers and capabilities. Able to connect to various different items within your home, these home hubs are able to connect with and control the different smart devices in your home using voice commands. Everything from lights, to the thermostat, doorbell and windows can be connected up to the home assistant, as well as the usual electronics such as your TV and speaker system. Beyond this, you can also carry out internet searches and use the assistant to make online purchases. The current market leaders are the Google Home and Amazon Echo, which both offer key benefits for certain uses.
Security and Alerting
It is no surprise that security was one of the first areas in which smart technology made huge inroads, as it is one of the foremost concerns for any homeowner. With doorbells that can stream live footage from your doorstep straight to your phone, and motion sensors that can be set up in any number of rooms and controlled from a central hub, there is no shortage of gadgets designed for your peace of mind. High end options such as the Vivant Smart Home system can even be linked to your local police and fire departments, so that in the event you are unable to respond to a security alert, someone will always be notified to attend the scene.
Robot vacuum cleaners have become enormously popular in the last few years, and frankly we understand why. Cleaning the house is one of the most universally dreaded tasks, with vacuuming being the noisy job that is always at the bottom of the list. These mobile, slim machines could not be more different to the clunky and cumbersome hoovers of yesteryear. As the technology used in robot vacuums gets smarter, they simply become more powerful and useful. iRobot is a company which is leading the way in the smart cleaning device field: their Roomba range of vacuuming robots are packed full of sensors allowing them to easily navigate through your home. Meanwhile, the Brava range of mopping robots allow for a deep clean of even muddy floors.
Smart thermostats are becoming something of a requisite for anyone interested in making full use of the possibilities of a connected home. Not only are they able to optimize your home’s temperature, but can do so while reducing your energy usage and associated costs. With a positive environmental impact, there are few downsides to implementing such devices in your home. At the top end of the range of smart thermostats, devices are equipped with the power to learn people’s routines and adjust rooms temperatures accordingly – for example by heating spaces just prior to your return from work and leaving cool rooms that are not often used. By syncing your thermostat to your phone, you can even adjust the temperature remotely as per your needs.
While larger appliances have been one of the slowest areas of all areas of home devices to become smart, there are some undoubtedly big steps towards smart functionality. For instance, washing machines that are able to be controlled remotely via your mobile device with safety notifications ensuring you are always alerted in the event of a problem. Meanwhile, large family fridges are a further target for new tech, with companies like Samsung releasing models that are equipped with internal photographing devices so you can simply check what you have stocked while out shopping.