Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
It’s been years since smart technology ushered in a new age of home comfort, but the best home automation offerings at IFA 2018 are pushing things to the next level.
From thermostats to security cameras and beyond, we went to Berlin to see it all first hand. In this article, we’ll keep you on top of the hottest and most interesting smart home products and announcements that we come across.
The Neato Botvac D7 (available on Amazon) was first unveiled at last year’s IFA, but it’s getting some interesting software updates later this year.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature is the ability to draw “no go” lines. When you first set up the D7, it cleans the entire floor while mapping out a floor plan. You’ll then be able to draw “no go” lines in the Neato app on top of the drawn floor plan, and the D7 will avoid crossing those lines. Great for preventing travel to problematic areas.
While there are other robot vacuums with fencing features, it’s the combination of mapped floor plan and mobile app line drawing that makes the D7 so much effective and easier to use.
You’ll also be able to designate custom drawn zones, then direct the D7 to clean up those zones on demand or according to a schedule. With the upcoming Google Assistant integration, you’ll even be able to name your custom zones and activate zone cleanups with simple voice commands.
The software update is expected to arrive in Fall 2018 and will only be for the D7 model.
Smart Outdoor Camera
The Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera (available on Amazon) distinguishes itself from other smart security cameras in its advanced object recognition. Rather than recording all the time, or sporadically recording any time a leaf blows by, it only triggers recording when it sees people, animals, and cars.
As for the recording itself, the Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera can record locally to microSD (8GB card included) or remotely to Dropbox or even your own FTP server. Disconnected from Wi-Fi? Not a problem. Just unload the local recordings—you won’t miss a beat.
The 4MP camera records a field of view of 100 degrees in 1080p resolution, and can detect motion up to 50 feet away at night. It also comes with a built-in LED floodlight, and you can tap into the camera’s live feed whenever you want using the Netatmo mobile app.
Smart Indoor Camera
Immediately, the Netatmo Smart Indoor Camera (available on Amazon) stands out because it doesn’t look like a traditional security camera, but rather a sleek and stylish cylinder. Unless an intruder knows what to look for, they won’t realize it for what it is.
You can set up particular people as “known faces,” and the camera will keep a log of every time it sees a face. When triggered, the camera makes a short recording of the event—or not, if you prefer to preserve a person’s privacy. If the camera detects a stranger’s face, you’ll get a mobile alert
The 4MP camera captures in 1080p resolution and records locally to microSD (8GB card included) or remotely to Dropbox or your own FTP server. You can tap into the camera’s live feed whenever you want using the Netatmo mobile app.
Stick Up Camera
The Ring Stick Up Camera stood out most to us, a wireless and weather-resistant camera that can be used both indoor and outdoor. It mounts using a single screw, meaning you can take it down and hook it up anywhere else at a moment’s notice.
Once mounted, you can use the Stick Up Camera’s neck to fold out, swivel around, turn, and tilt to make the camera face any direction you want. Admittedly, the camera body is bulky and conspicuous so you know you’re looking at a security camera.
With a Ring Protect Plan, the Stick Up Camera can record when triggered and store each recording for up to 60 days. Without a Protect Plan, you can still tap into its live IP feed and view in real-time. Other notable features include 720p HD video quality, night vision, two-way talk, mobile alerts, and remote-activated siren.
We don’t know when the Ring Stick Up Camera will be released, but we’re hopeful for later this year.
V3+ Smart Thermostat
The Tado V3+ Smart Thermostat is a neat solution that can replace most central heating setups. If you have radiator heating instead, opt for the Tado V3+ Smart Radiator Thermostat, which replaces the radiator’s control knob. Both starter kits include a bridge, which plugs straight into your wireless router.
The device itself is a touchscreen that allows minute control over the temperature and settings. Or you can control the thermostat through the newly revamped Tado app, both on demand or by setting up Smart Schedules that automatically adhere to preset temperature patterns. You can also set “Away” temperatures so you aren’t unnecessarily wasting energy.
The Air Comfort feature claims to improve sleep quality by offering advice on what you could improve, such as when to open or close windows. It incorporates indoor data (e.g. room temperature and humidity) and outdoor data (e.g. weather forecasts, pollen).
The Tado V3+ is compatible with IFTTT, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit. Other notable features include geofencing (automatically turns on and off when you leave home radius) and the ability to request boiler repair or maintenance from one of Tado’s partnered services (currently only in select European countries).
We’ll be updating this post with more products as we encounter them.