Lighting, security, appliances and more: here’s our rundown on the latest innovations in tech for the home.
After a timid breakthrough, technologies controlled remotely from our smart devices are garnering renewed interest. That’s partly due to increased affordability and better compatibility with other devices, but it’s also in response to our desire for energy efficiency and for greater customization of our home environment. Best of all, the newest products are user friendly. If you can use a smartphone or say “Dim the lights,” you’ve got this. Here’s what’s new and improved on the market.
The Bots Are Coming
Compact and autonomous, the new smart vacuum cleaners (Samsung, Ecovacs, iRobot) are ushering in a mini revolution in household maintenance. New laser simultaneous localization and mapping algorithms help it map the space of the house, including how to navigate around obstacles for optimum efficiency. Although quieter than their predecessors, it’s still wise to program them to clean while you’re away from home because they are still noisy. The T10, a recent robot from Narwal, is both a vacuum and a mop, and it knows when its job is done by detecting how much dirt is on the device and returning to the base by itself.
The kitchen of the future, where appliances even cook our meals, is – alas – not quite here! Nevertheless, smarter devices are on the horizon and some have already arrived. Who wouldn’t want a fridge equipped with a camera so you can see if you’re out of milk from the grocery store? We also like the connected oven, like the ones by Miele, which adapts its cooking method, time and temperature to what you’re preparing. As well, it offers direct connection to the manufacturer for troubleshooting when something goes awry.
Two more innovative devices that have caught our eye are Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator with a built-in calendar on the door that all family members can interact with remotely, and the LG WashTower High Efficiency dryer that automatically selects a compatible drying cycle.
Home security remains a main attraction of smart accessories. You can see who is ringing the doorbell, turn on the security lights or monitor the surroundings of the swimming pool by video camera. The drawback: some of these same devices can be hacked, so choose carefully. Opt for companies that offer reliable smart home accessories with a cybersecurity service that meets the standards required by the industry – do your homework to get the product that’s right for you.
Touch of a Button
The SwitchBot Bot is a little device that you affix to your not-so-smart devices, like your push-button coffee maker. When you activate the SwitchBot Bot remotely via your voice assistant or other smart device, such as your tablet, a little lever moves on the bot, which is attached to your old-fashioned machine, and pushes the button – making your old-school items act like smart appliances. The SwitchBot family includes many techy gadgets that improve compatibility between devices.
Smart bulbs are the easiest way to bring “smart” home. These Internet-enabled bulbs can be controlled (off/on, dimming, even changing colour) remotely. The Philips Hue creates lighting moods for different times of the day, so you can program your bedroom light to simulate the colours of a sunrise, for instance. It’s easy to imagine a range of situations at multiple times of the day where smart lighting could be useful.