The Future is Here
Our homes are a place we come back to each day after work; where we relax and unwind, spend time with our families, and restore ourselves to prepare for the next day. Today, there are many amenities that connect our homes to technology, making our lives simpler, and our homes more advanced. Here are some of the smart-home technologies that you’ll want to take advantage of—if you haven’t already.
Smart Light Technology
Thanks to technology, the intelligence of lighting systems continues to increase considerably. Designed for energy efficiency, smart lighting allows you to manage your home’s light and energy use. The system adapts light sensitivity according to several factors, from natural light, occupancy of the space and more. Smart lighting encompasses various internet-connected solutions, allowing one to control and check on your home’s lights. These include smart light bulbs, smart lamps and smart plugs.
If you want comprehensive wireless control over the lights in your home, there are many options available for you to choose from. The Philips Hueline delivers with lightbulbs that allow you manage not only the intensity of the light but the color as well. The Hue ecosystem has been around for enough time that you can be assured that it will work with just about every other system out there, from Alexa to IFTTT (If This Then That) to Siri (when using the Philips Hue Bridge).
If you’re not interested in colorful lights but still want that incredible granular control over an all-white bulb, Philips has the Hue White, also offering bulbs you can use outdoors. And if you’re looking to “smarten” up your home but don’t know where to start, check out Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED. This affordable smart bulb can connect directly to your home Wi-Fi without the need for a hub and displays 16 million colors, supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, and can interact with other smart-home devices.
It’s one of the first things we do in the morning after we wake up, as well as one of the last things we do before crawling into bed for the night—opening and closing the window blinds and/or shades. Designed for controlling lighting entering the home, as well as allowing for privacy, if you have windows, blinds or window shades are a must!
But … what if you could control your blinds and shades simply via voice-activated technologies? For those of you who may seem surprised, this is not the wave of the future but right here, right now, in the present! This "futuristic" technology is becoming ever more popular, with several major smart home and window treatment design companies selling automated smart blinds that assimilate with home automation systems. Lutron, Somfy and Pella are popular companies offering these modern conveniences.
Choices include purchasing motorized smart blinds or retrofitting your current window treatments to turn them into smart shades. Smart blind systems are compatible with either Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomeKit, and some are sold with a remote control that can also be used to manage the window coverings. The modern technology which allows you to control your blinds and shades can cost a pretty penny, but the convenience is well worth it.
Gone are the days of those knocks on the door that get louder the longer it takes us to answer it; or that doorbell ring that when out of tune is an annoyance to be had by all. Today, the wave of the future has arrived, as your average door knocker and doorbell have been replaced with advanced technologies to make for a simpler—yet smarter—life.
The Ring Doorbell Pro provides customers with nearly everything you could possibly ask for when it comes to a smart doorbell. Offering a slender design with interchangeable faceplates and delivering sharp 1080p video day and night, the Ring Doorbell Pro, which is rather easy to install, utilizes pre-buffering technology in order to display what occurred prior to a motion trigger. In addition, if you have an Amazon Echo Show device, you can view live video using Alexa voice commands, which makes it one of the most versatile video doorbells out there. Ring is the biggest name in video doorbells, making it a great choice for any consumer. In addition to the easy installation, it has several models available. It is also waterproof and weatherproof.
Other top-selling options include Google's Nest Hello Doorbell, SkyBell W-Fi Doorbell, August Doorbell Cam Pro, Vivint Doorbell, SimpliSafe Doorbell and Frontpoint Doorbell.
Smart Home Surveillance
You’ve got that new smart doorbell, so what’s next? Obviously to set up a new smart home surveillance system. Our homes should be a place where we find unwavering comfort, where we can unwind after a long day while spending time with our loved ones. It is one of the most important spaces in our lives, and it is imperative that home is where you feel safe. While you can control what occurs inside of your home, now you can have better control and be more aware of what is occurring outside your doors, even while you’re away. Since your family deserves the best when it comes to their safety, you’ll want to check out the Arlo Ultra, which is raising the bar when it comes to outdoor cameras. It is one of the pricier cameras out there, but considering all the technology it’s loaded with, it’s well worth the price. From automatic zooming, motion tracking, color and night vision to integrated spotlight and siren, one-click 911 connectivity, 180-degree field of view and more, your home is in good hands with the Arlo Ulta.
For an affordable system that still gets the job done, the original Wyze Cam, along with its successor Wyze Cam V2 and now the company’s latest offering the Wyze Cam Pan, are affordable home security systems providing motion and sound detection, time-lapse recording, free cloud storage, and mechanical pan and tilt, and support for IFTTT applets.
Smart Home Hubs
Let’s get down to the basics—not that there’s anything “basic” about the advancement of technology over the past decade. Most of the world, by now, has heard of Alexa. And no, it’s not just a name but has changed the way many get the information they’re seeking. Amazon’s Echo, the Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa, operates with a variety of smart home devices directly and can work with IFTTT to control others via “recipes” you can create yourself. It is possible—with a little work—to program Alexa to control most every gadget in your house at the sound of your voice! If you’re looking for a touch screen to search results and make video calls, check out the Echo Show, Echo Show 5 or Echo Spot.
Google's Home Max is "built for sound, inside and out." With Max, you can enjoy hands-free help from Google Assistant, ask questions, and tell it things to do as well as control your smart home devices. With its far-field voice control, Max can hear you across the room, even while your music is playing. There are many more choices to choose from, with one bound to best complement your lifestyle.
It's part of our weekly, if not daily, cleaning routine—vacuuming. Whether it's the dog shedding again or the crumbs from the kids' afternoon snack, it seems that it can be impossible to keep up with the cleaning. Well, for those who cringe every time they have to pull out the vacuum, tripping over its cord multiple times while trying to clean up the dirt, crumbs, hair and whatever else may be lurking on the floor, your life is about to get easier—if you haven't already discovered the joys and ease of a smart vacuum. Though they've been around for a while now, robot vacuums continue to get "smarter" with each generation. And the most advanced model just might be iRobot's Roomba i7+. In addition to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, multistory mapping, and camera-based navigation, it can even empty its own dustpan, so you don’t have to lift a finger!
And then there's the Neato Botvac D7 Connected, which is said to be the best self-navigating robot vacuum for larger spaces. Offering a longer battery life, it can be programmed to save up to three different floor plans and works great on all floor surfaces. Also check out the budget-friendly Eufy RoboVac 11S, which offers improved features including stronger suction and battery life, and its small size allows it to fit under bed frames, cabinets and other tight spaces with ease.
Smart Heating & Cooling
It seems no matter how hard you try, the monthly utility bill continues to jump higher and higher, especially during the cold season. Though you monitor the thermostat constantly, turn down the heat when you're going to bed or turn it off entirely because you'd rather sweat or freeze in discomfort than sweat about the thought of your next sky-high utility bill, it seems to be a no-win situation. With emerging technologies, there are now a variety of smart thermostats that can help keep you comfortable year-round while also lowering your energy usage and bill.
Check out the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with voice control, which is the company's fifth-generation model. This new model includes enhanced Alexa and multimedia support, extra powerful audio components and dual-band Wi-Fi. And that’s not all! Add in the fact that it’s an easy installation process, the application is user-friendly and it provides plenty of third-party support, your heating and cooling options just got a whole lot smarter! Also check out the Nest Learning Thermostat or the cost friendly Nest’s Thermostat E.
Smart Health & Fitness
Health and fitness encompasses a wide variety of issues and topics, but for now, we’ll just focus on the numbers—that is, your weight and BMI, plus a few more factors. We all want to be healthy and measure our individual health through a variety of means. Remember that scale, sitting in the corner of your bathroom, that could only monitor your weight (which in itself is not a true reflection of health)? Weight is just one number to be concerned about, and you don’t have to go to a doctor or personal trainer to get your numbers read. Having the technology at your fingertips and in the comfort of your own home is truly a step in a healthy direction. If you’re looking to track not only your weight BMI (body mass index) and full body makeup including, fat, water weight, muscle mass and bone composition, you’ll want to check out the QardioBase 2. This wireless smart scale and body analyzer is battery free, works on any surface, can sync with your favorite health apps, allows you to set and track goals and more! There are a variety of other smart scales on the market, though not many can measure all of the components that the QardioBase2 provides.
It’s time to smarten up your home and your life by taking the time to do a little research and make the switch to smart home technologies. The future of connecting is here.