The evolution of modern technology has in many cases outpaced the average person’s ability to keep up with it all. Take, for example, the Internet of Things — a phrase describing the technology that is allowing people to connect and control just about everything with our smartphones or computers. All of this connectivity makes it fairly simple to turn your house into a Smart Home, creating greater efficiency, tracking details, and automating tasks and habits that will use less energy and keep your home running smoothly. Here are some of the ways that you can connect your home to the Internet of Things and join the era of Smart Homes.
Connect your home’s security to your device, and you’ll never have to spend the day worrying that you forgot to lock the back door. Smart camera systems will allow you to keep an eye on any part of the house right from your smartphone, and products like NestCam or Canary will alert you if something seems amiss — like movement by the front door. There are options to keep recordings of certain timeframes too, just in case you need to go back and reference. The systems can be turned on when you leave or activated from your phone at any time, and you can toggle between rooms and cameras if you decide to have more than one.
Smart lock systems are also becoming increasingly popular, though they are still quite expensive and there is uncertainty about what happens if they crash. The August Smart Lock system allows you to lock and unlock your home from your phone, allowing you to let your guests in from afar or lock the front door if your teenager forgot. AT&T also provides a smart door lock system that gives a specific code for each individual and can track who comes and goes — it is a part of their Digital Life systems that include video security monitoring.
Programmable thermostats have been around for quite some time, but what about a thermostat that learns your habits? The newest Smart Home technology learns your comings and goings so that it understands when you need that burst of heat or cooling and when you’re gone for significant periods of time so that it can make the adjustments for you. You can also turn up the A/C on a particularly sweltering day while you’re on the train home, or prevent the heat from kicking on if you’re not going to be home for a while. Products like Nest and Hive offer varying options — Hive operates by paying attention to how far your phone, and thereby you, are from home and asking if you’d like to turn on the heat or AC depending on your direction of travel. Nest, on the other hand, takes a week to learn your habits and make those adjustments for you by noticing when you’ve gone away from home. When you’re preparing your home for winter, it’s nice to know that your Smart Home will keep a watch to ensure your pipes don’t freeze.
Hook your lighting into the system and you can wirelessly turn the lights on and off, as well as set them to turn on or off at certain times right from your phone or, these days, your watch. Most wireless-enabled lights also use LED bulbs, which use dramatically less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs and can offer dimming features without that annoying buzz. No more fumbling for light switches.
Smart Kitchen Gadgets
The number of helpful and fun kitchen gadgets for the home is pretty remarkable — though they definitely end up on the more expensive ends of smart home improvements. On the most practical level, the Bosch Smart dishwasher makes washing the dishes easier and far more effective with its intelligent design and full-color text display. For the more novel? We could start with the GeniCan, which can scan the barcodes of an item as you throw it away to add it to your grocery list. Then there’s the LG Smart ThinQ Cooker, which will allow you to cook your food to precision with its incredibly high-tech sensors (if only it could do the prep and cleanup, too). Then program your Firebox coffee machine to know that if your FitBit records a rough night of sleep, you’re going to need a strong cup of coffee. If you’re interested in tracking your eating habits, let the HAPIFork help you slow down and enjoy each bite. It records how quickly you eat and how much, allowing you to track it through the online app. Of course.
For a city-dweller, gardening may need to be an indoor affair. Enter smart gardening technology that allows you to grow greens, herbs, and other food plants right in your home with features like automatic hydration monitoring and pH level testing. If you have the joy of a yard, it just got a lot more joyful with products like automatic lawnmowers and moisture monitors that set off your sprinklers when the lawn needs watering and prevent them from watering when it’s about to rain. The GreenIQ Smart Garden boasts that last feature, monitoring the weather to predict when and how much it will need to water your yard or garden. It can be retrofitted with your existing sprinkler system, making for a simple installation. For indoor gardening, the Click and Grow Smart Garden allows you to grow your own small herbs and plants right in the kitchen from seed. The company has developed plant capsules that give your plants all they need… just plug it in and fill the water tank once a month. Your app will, of course, monitor their growth.
The Package Deal
There are numerous packages on the market that offer to transform your entire home into a new, smarter version that can be controlled from one hub. That means the same technology can control your lighting, your heat and AC, and your security. Of course, these packages tend to be a bit more expensive than shopping around just for the options that you want or need — but the ease of controlling everything from one app or device may just make it worth the expense. Apple’s HomeKit, Alexa, and Nest all offer a suite of products that will network and communicate easily, and if you really want to get savvy, you can even link more items together using “Applets” or IFTTT’s. The possibilities are truly endless.
Excited to move into your new home? Make sure that along with the best Smart Home technology you are perusing the best moving companies. You want to make sure that the automated lawnmower is handled carefully, right?