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The “smart home” concept is taking off and you should be keeping up, otherwise you’ll end up missing out on the future. A lot of folks scoff at the idea of smart appliances but we’re shifting into an age where it’s becoming less of a gimmick and more of a desirable luxury. It’s the year of the smart appliance and here’s the proof.

Smart Home Appliances: What Are They?

Don’t know what a “smart” appliance is? Rest assured, you probably already do.

Back when the iPhone first came out, people began to recognize a new category of phone: the smart phone. What was the differentiating factor? There aren’t any hard rules, but having advanced processing capabilities and Internet connectivity is crucial.

When smart TVs hit the market What Is a Smart TV & 6 of the Best On The Market Today What Is a Smart TV & 6 of the Best On The Market Today Most televisions you look at now will be smart TVs, but what is a smart TV and which ones are the best on the market right now? Read More , the same held true. These TVs could do more than just watch an incoming television feed. They could hook into a home network, connect to devices over Bluetooth, download and run apps, and some of the newer models even have built-in webcams Smart TVs Are A Growing Security Risk: How Do You Deal With This? Smart TVs Are A Growing Security Risk: How Do You Deal With This? Read More .

See the pattern? Smart appliances are cutting edge models that can connect to the Internet and perform more advanced tasks than traditional appliances. What exactly can they do? Well, that depends on the particular model at hand. Let’s take a look at some of the more useful smart appliances currently available.

Nest Thermostat ($250)

The Nest Thermostat is one of the best smart home products for saving electricity 5 Smart Hacks To Save Electricity In Your Smart Home 5 Smart Hacks To Save Electricity In Your Smart Home he trick to saving electricity is in knowing where most of your energy is consumed. Read More . It’s amazing how much money and energy we leak on a daily basis, but the Nest Thermostat can take care of that for you. But that’s not all because it also learns your personal preferences for temperature and adjusts accordingly. A truly smart appliance!

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For something so useful, it’s also quite simple. There are only two functions – turn temperature up, turn temperature down – and based on when you make those changes, Nest will record and remember what you like. It’s all automatic and after a while you won’t even remember you have a thermostat. How awesome is that?

SONTE Smart Film (N/A)

On the topic of heating and cooling, there’s one more recent invention that you ought to get: Smart Film by SONTE. Also known as digital shade, this amazing product sits on your windows and automatically adjusts between transparent and non-transparent according to the amount of light passing through.

When it’s sunny, it grows dark and blocks out light, which also mitigates excess from entering your home and keeps your temperature down. Then again, using an Android or iOS app, you can manually override the shading levels. It even blocks UV rays, protecting your inner home from UV damage.

The best part is that Smart Film doesn’t require any special windows or frames. It works on any glass surface, so it doesn’t even have to be used for windows. Unfortunately, Smart Film isn’t ready for sale yet. Sign up on their newsletter to know more about its release.

SkyBell Video Doorbell ($200)

The SkyBell isn’t a particularly new concept in itself, but the execution of it is borderline flawless. What is it? A compact doorbell with a built-in camera feed that you can tap into with your smartphone. For all intents and purposes, it allows you to see through the eyes of your doorbell.

No matter where you are – at home, at work, or out in the wilderness – SkyBell will instantly notify your smartphone whenever anybody rings your doorbell. You can see who they are through the camera, but even more than that, you can speak directly with them!

The SkyBell can trigger based on motion alone and the camera has night vision capabilities, so it can even act as an impromptu security camera. Lastly, its robust build can withstand temperatures from -40F to 150F, which pretty much covers most livable conditions. If you aren’t using a SkyBell yet, what are you waiting for?

August Smart Lock ($200)

Encrypted keys are integral for digital security, but with the August Smart Lock you can use the power of encryption to lock your front door. The Smart Lock is more flexible than a traditional lock and gives you complete control over who has access.

At will, you can create additional keys. These keys can be valid forever or they can be timed, allowing you to grant someone access to your house for just a few hours. The built-in logging function tracks all access attempts and these logs are viewable remotely.

It’s not out yet, but the Smart Lock will be available later this year for a modest price. You can pre-order at their website and reserve one from their second production batch. Get them while you can! In the meantime, check out more smart locks Forget Keys: 5 Smart Locks You Can Unlock With Your Phone Forget Keys: 5 Smart Locks You Can Unlock With Your Phone Here are 5 different locks that you can unlock with your phone. Read More to replace your regular dumb locks at home.

Whirlpool Smart Washer and Dryer ($1400)

What possible benefit could there be to a smart washer-and-dryer combo? You load in your clothes, toss in a bit of detergent, and let it go. When it’s done, you switch it over to the dryer. Save for the possibility of self-loading washers and auto-transferring dryers, is there room for “smartness” here?

A bit, yeah. Whirlpool has a washer-and-dryer combo that incorporates their 6th Sense Live technology that allows you to stay updated on progress even when you’re away from home. You can start loads remotely, get alerted when cycles complete, and even be reminded for optimal maintenance.

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On top of that, the Smart Energy feature can track and display how much energy is being used so you know the best way to conserve electricity and money. At $1400 each, it’s a steep price to pay for extra convenience, but that convenience adds up in the long run.

All of this is just scratching the surface. Check out these awesome smart home products on Kickstarter 6 Smart Home Kickstarter Campaigns You Should Totally Back 6 Smart Home Kickstarter Campaigns You Should Totally Back Here's a list of six of the coolest currently-running projects on Kickstarter that will help you improve life around the house. Read More and back the ones that you find most compelling. If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, consider taking on one of these smart home DIY projects 6 Smart Home Projects You Can Take On This Weekend 6 Smart Home Projects You Can Take On This Weekend Here are six ways to add a little ambient intelligence to your daily routine. Read More for the weekend.

Do you believe in smart home products? Will you be trying any of these in your own home? If you’ve already used one before, please share your experience with us in the comments! We’d love to hear about it.

  1. Dimitrios T
    September 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I think i ll wait until the chinese hit the market.

  2. Fr3ak
    September 7, 2014 at 7:31 am

    I've got a Tado - it knows when I'm coming home and turns the heating on and automatically turns it off when the last person leaves. You can control it from an app if you want to as well.
    Much better than nest in my opinion.

  3. Joe
    September 6, 2014 at 7:25 am

    @Dann A - Security will always be a running battle. As long as I can't get regular security patches/upgrades like those I get for my notebook, it doesn't matter what they "improve" on a one-time basis. I can't quite imagine a light bulb manufacturer putting out monthly patches.

  4. Buffet
    September 5, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    The "Nest" T-stat is only capable of running two stages of heat and cooling. If you have a two stage heat pump with auxillary heat you're S.O.L. Caveat Emptor!

  5. Joe
    September 5, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    When I firsit heard about smart devices and the Internet of things, I was excited. But ...

    I was thinking of starting on this in a very small way - a couple of light bulbs - but then I read that all these devices have questionable security built in (and no way to add defenses yourself). You don't even know how safe they are unless you know enough to pen test them yourself.

    Supposedly, it is possible for someone to hack into them and record all the changes so they know your habits, including exactly when you're there or gone, remotely access your cameras and microphones, possibly change settings like temperature, and also possibly monitor/hack into the rest of your network.

    That's way too big a risk for me! YMMV.

    • Dann A
      September 6, 2014 at 7:10 am

      As I've been researching smart home products, I've had the same thought. I'm sure a lot of effort goes into keeping some of them secure (like locks), but I doubt that lightbulb manufacturers are throwing the same amount of resources at it.

      In fact, I recently read about a smart toilet that was vulnerable to hackers; they could flush the toilet whenever the wanted or turn on the bidet or air dryer (which, I have to say, is hilarious). While that's not a security risk per se, it does make me wonder what hackers will figure out how to do once they've had a bit more time.

      Hopefully we'll see security improvements in the near future.

    • Anonymous
      September 7, 2014 at 3:26 am

      Only way to stop hackers is turn off your linter webs And that only works if you're not using it(obviously)

  6. John Williams
    September 5, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I feel the "smartest" thing to do is not be an early adopter while these manufacturers guinea pig and beta test through the next decade.

    How many friends do you think would ever talk to you at the water cooler again if you showed them where your washing machine was in the rinse cycle?

    Let's see: my door lock - is it made by Yale or Chubb out of a serious piece of steel - or is it a rinky dink electronic no-name with an Android app in beta?

    My thermostat - learning stats already exist - made by Honeywell and Danfoss - who have been making stats for decades - now they make digital learning ones - about a hundred dollars ....

    True home automation "knows" when you're not in. It leaves the heating off - but closes the curtains and puts some lights on to appear occupied. As you walk to your car, the house goes into lockdown - all on its own. Automation to me means - don't bother me - just get on with it. Let me know if it breaks.
    Do you really want your house sending messages to you all day?

  7. Brandon
    September 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Why August over the Lockitron (Lockitron.com)? I much prefer the Lockitron.

  8. Scott M
    September 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I love the idea of these products, but the price will be prohibitive for a while yet, I think.

  9. dragonmouth
    September 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    According to the June 2014 issue of Consumer's Reports, the Nest products are not as good as their hype.

  10. Kiwi
    September 4, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Oh, and they are so cheap!

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