Throughout 2016 more and more products came to the market that could feasibly give us the kind of futuristic smart home first envisaged on Tomorrow’s World. As long as Moore’s Law continues to hold true, the cost will keep coming down for the futuristic tech. Automating your home has never looked so affordable.
Probably the most successful smart home device ever. Amazon’s Echo speaker can take voice commands, learn “skills” (third-party add-ins), play music, and organise your life with your personal assistant Alexa. It’s a powerful device and at such a relatively low price, it beats all competition on the market.
Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control [27% Off]
For everything that Alexa can’t – or doesn’t yet – understand there is the Logitech Harmony Elite Remote. A remote may sound like a distinctly dull device, until you realise that it can connect to pretty much anything smart home related. It stores up to 15 connections including Philips Hue, Sonos, Netflix, and Nest. In the Elite, Logitech has added support for Amazon’s Echo meaning that you could effectively control the remote with Alexa.
Outside of entertainment, the biggest category of smart home devices is in home security market. The Canary All-In-One is one of the best, most reasonably priced security hubs going. It features a 1080p HD camera, 147 degree wide-angle lens, and automatic night vision. If armed, there is a motion-activated 90 dB siren and video recording. Not content with covering your security needs, Canary also added air quality, temperature, and humidity monitors. If you are concerned by the privacy implications of an always on camera, there is a “Privacy” mode which completely shuts down the camera and microphone.
I remember reading around 2007 about Bill Gates’ smart home, with the ability to have music follow the family through the house. Wireless speakers have brought that into the mainstream, and none more so successfully than Sonos. Controlled by a Windows, iOS or Android app, you can stream pretty much any music on a huge range of services – including Amazon, Google Play, and Spotify – and even your own local library. Buy one speaker, or add more for stereo or multi-room setup.
The purveyors of premium audio equipment, Bose, have also recently jumped in on the wireless speaker game with the SoundTouch range. Functionally very similar to the Sonos system, they do have one notable addition: Bluetooth.
Vileda Robotic Vacuum Cleaner [44% Off]
Robotic vacuum cleaners are probably the most evident result of Moore’s Law. While its been possible to buy one for a number of years, you can now get many models for under £100, like this offering from Vileda. With three different cleaning programs, navigation sensors, stair detection, and 0.25 litre collection capacity, it will take the hassle out of cleaning up.
One of the “simplest” but most effective uses of smart home technology is in smart plugs. The ability to schedule on/off times, monitor your energy consumption, and manage on-the-go from your phone makes them a great addition to your home. The TP-Link plugs also have Amazon Echo integration!