Smart Homes of 2018: The Devices to Look out for
Are you a fellow tech geek or are you looking to make your life more comfortable with the aid of technology?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is on steroids nowadays. Smart locks, smart hubs and controllers, home automation, and you’re still not impressed? Read more and who knows, you may find yourself considering the purchase of such a device yourself.
What is Smart Home Technology?
For all of you newbies and tech enthusiasts out there, imagine texting your washing machine and telling it to do the laundry for you by the time you get home. Or being at the gym, wanting your home to smell fresh, be the perfect temperature, and have dinner ready by the time you get back.
What if all of your appliances, cooking utensils, doorbells, water heaters, etc. are connected to the internet? And what if those devices could communicate with one another, send you information, and take your commands? It sounds surreal, but this is as real as it can get and it’s all possible due to the Internet of Things (IoT), which plays a crucial role in home automation and smart homes.
So what is home automation? It does what it says on the tin; it gives you the ability to automate devices and their processes around the house.
Setting up a smart lamp to turn on or off at your whim is a piece of cake and comes at a great price as well. But, of course, if you’d like an extra layer of security, you can never go wrong with a set of advanced surveillance cameras. There are plenty of smart home product categories to choose from, ranging from lights and thermostats to locks and security cameras.
Here’s a list of the best products in 2018 that turn your home into a more efficient and futuristic environment:
Smart Home Hubs and Controllers
Amazon Echo Family
The Echo Bluetooth speaker is by far smarter than your average speaker, and it’s powered by, probably, one of the most advanced AI system’s that is publicly available, Alexa. Alexa works perfectly with other smart home devices directly. It’s also compatible with services such as ‘If This Then That (IFTTT)’ to control plenty of others via the commands you tell it.
Unsurprisingly, it will take some time and effort to get everything up and running, but you’re going to be controlling your home with your voice, more or less, like how Tony Stark does with F.R.I.D.A.Y in The Avengers movie.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative or are not ready to part ways with your current speaker, you can purchase an Amazon Echo ‘Dot’, which adds Alexa functionality to your favourite speaker. And if you are looking to upgrade to a fancier looking Amazon Echo Family member, Echo ‘Show’ and Echo ‘Spot’ round it off with gorgeous looking touch screens and they give you the possibility to connect with others through video calls.
Wink Hub 2
Due to its wide range of supported communication methods, Wink Hub 2 has become a popular choice for tech-enthusiasts and is one of PCMag’s Editors’ Choice chosen devices. The Wink Hub 2 allows users to be connected to just about everything within the smart home spectrum, from Philips Hue lighting to Google Home. According to consumer reviews, Wink Hub 2 is the most reliable, widely supported hub, so definitely the right place to start if you plan on creating a complete smart home.
Logitech Harmony Elite
If you’re ‘old school’ and you don’t like the idea of talking directly to a device, the Logitech Harmony Elite universal remote is the perfect remote control for you. This somewhat pricey smart home controller connects with the included Harmony Home Hub, which allows other smart home devices to connect to it via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, or infrared.
iHome iSP6X Smart Plug
Last, but not least in the home hubs and controllers category is the iHome iSP6X Smart Plug. It’s one of the most capable smart home switches and is excellent when it comes to compatibility, connecting with devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant voice control, Apple HomeKit, Nest, Samsung SmartThings, and Wink Hub.
Connect your gadgets and appliances and turn your home into a smart home almost instantaneously with the iHome iSP6X Smart Plug. On the downside, the iHome iSP6X Smart Plug lacks energy monitoring, but thankfully it makes up for it, with intelligent scheduling, an intuitive app, and simple installation.
Smart Home Surveillance Cameras
iSmartAlarm iCamera Keep Pro
iSmartAlarm’s iCamera Keep Pro is a complete home security camera that works as a standalone device, as well as offering the ability to be incorporated into a DIY iSmartAlarm security system.
The camera is chock-full of valuable traits, including a sharp 1080p image sensor, sound detection, motion-tracking which enables the camera to follow a person around the room, as well as time-lapse and event-triggered video recording.
Partner the above with free cloud storage and local storage through an SD card slot, as well as IFTTT integration support, and you’ve got an excellent indoor security cam.
Since its predecessor’s release in 2015, the new SkyBell HD comes fully loaded with modern touches. One thing to note; don’t be deceived by its compact looks, the SkyBell HD passes highly detailed video at 1080p with colour night vision, and it also captures a couple of seconds of footage before a triggered event. Moreover, it integrates with numerous third-party smart home devices, and to round everything up nicely; it comes with free cloud storage, which is unusual for smart cameras.
Smart Heating & Cooling
Nest Learning Thermostat
Owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, the Nest Learning Thermostat is probably the most popular choice amongst those looking to change the way they control the temperature within their homes.
Controllable using phone, tablet, or PC, the latest iteration of Nest has a larger display and more sensors than its predecessors. In addition, it also features geofencing support and a furnace monitor.
Johnson Controls GLAS Smart Thermostat
With a built-in Microsoft Cortana speaker, Johnson Control’s GLAS Smart Thermostat enables users to ask Cortana to change the temperature or to switch from home to away mode. The GLAS is also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant if you have a suitable smart speaker at home. The thermostat has a see-through OLED touchscreen display and gives you air quality reports, so it’s great for those who are conscious of the home environment.
Philips Hue Bulbs
One of the first smart devices introduced when the Internet of Things boom took over, and a practical, intelligent home device, the Philips Hue line contains bulbs that let users control the intensity of light as well as the colour.
The Phillips Hue can be pricey, especially when fitting out a whole home, but the ecosystem has been around for a long time and therefore has the reliability to justify the price point for those place value on ambience. It works with pretty much every system out there; Alexa, Google, Siri, and IFTTT.
Smart Kitchen Appliances
Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Wi-Fi
Have you ever heard of sous vide cooking?
Once exclusive to the professionals, sous vide (pronounced “sue” “veed”) is a cooking technique that employs precise temperature control.
The technique recently gained popularity due to the availability of affordable and easy-to-use sous vide precision cooking equipment like the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker. The cooker uses Wi-Fi to allow the cook to control it from anywhere, even when not at home.
A big dial lets the cook set the desired temperature to within a tenth of a degree. The display shows the current water temperature, and an accompanying app keeps the cook notified of the process every step of the way. It makes cooking sous vide as simple as can be.
If there is a perfect application of smart home technology, this is it. Yes, it’s an egg timer, and as funny as it sounds, it’s a real thing and is fantastic!
The smart egg tray notifies you on how many eggs you have left in the fridge, keeps track of their individual shelf life, and indicates which are the freshest… cool, right? Especially if you’re on one of those egg-fast diets that weight-loss fanatics seem to be on nowadays.
So there it is. The future of tomorrow’s homes. Will you be investing in a smarter home? Or are these devices still too gimmicky for you?
One thing is for sure, smart homes are here to stay, and we expect to see the market boom in the coming years as we find more practical applications of the technologies in our households.