The smart home revolution shows no signs of abating, with gadgets and gizmos appearing all the time to make our lives easier, and smarter, by eradicating many of those niggling hassles that plague our busy lives. Whether it’s keeping track of the contents of your fridge, controlling access to your property, maintaining a constant temperature, monitoring family members’ internet access or watching movies at the drop of a hat, there’s smart home tech for almost every aspect of your life. The question is: where to start?
Well-known brands such as Nest, Philips, Samsung and Google have leapt on the smart home tech bandwagon and continue to drive it forward, but in the beginning, there was the Amazon Echo, and despite competition, Alexa remains the number one smart device. With tens of thousands of voice commands, and outstanding compatibility with many other devices, the Echo has variants such as the Dot and the Show, and is one of the most affordable solutions on the market.
If you’re keen to move upmarket from standard light switches, there are several options for digital lighting control. The earliest entrant into this market, Philips Hue, continues to lead the way. Incorporating voice control via Alexa, the latest generation app can integrate with other systems such as HomeKit and SmartThings and offers a wide selection of bulb shapes and colours. Another player, Lifx, offers funky bulbs and excellent integration with other smart home equipment. For the more adventurous, intriguing Nanoleaf Light Panels encourage creativity with light by enabling you to control the level and mood of your lighting via a user-friendly app. Modular triangular lights are connected in a pattern and can then be controlled individually via the app, and can even be configured to display your listening through Nanoleaf Rhythm. For 3D mood lighting, the dodecahedral Nanoleaf Remote has 12 sides, each of which creates a different lux effect.
Temperature control remains at the forefront of the smart home tech market, and it’s the Nest Learning Thermostat that scores highest. As well as dovetailing with the Nest Protect and Nest security cameras, it can also interface with a number of other manufacturers’ smart gadgets. Nest accommodates all the leading boiler brands, heating systems and hot water tanks, and, although it needs to be installed by a professional, it is incredibly easy to use. Perhaps the largest selling point, however, is its intelligence as it has the capacity to learn about your family’s habits and preferences in order to reduce your heating spend without you feeling the cold.
Security is a key factor for any homeowner, and the home tech market is well populated with smart door key solutions. Perhaps the most appealing is the Nuki Smart Lock 2.0, which can be mounted on the back of your existing lock. You can choose to lock and unlock as usual with your conventional key or tap with our smartphone or smartwatch. The convenience can be extended with the addition of the Nuki Bridge which enables you to give smartphone access on a temporary or permanent basis to family members, friends or neighbours.
In the kitchen, the Smarter FridgeCam can take a snapshot of the contents of your fridge each time the door closes. Using the system’s app you can then view the contents of your fridge remotely to top up your shopping list wherever you are. As well as helping to ensure that you’re never missing a vital ingredient, the FridgeCam enables you to keep an eye on who’s raiding the supplies on a regular basis. Moving from chilled to heated, the KitchenAid helps busy households by cutting down cooking times, providing crispier textures than standard microwaves and assisting with precise preparation of ingredients. And if you’re on a mission for the perfect coffee, then the Smarter Coffee appliance should be on your shortlist. Its in-built grinder guarantees freshness, and all functions can be controlled either on the device or via the app, delivering a high-quality bean-to-cup result, whatever the time of day.
Looking beyond the practical applications of smart home tech, there’s a lot of fun to be had. If you enjoy grabbing a film whenever and wherever the mood takes you, why not take a look at Keecker home cinema? This clever projector responds to your app or voice by rolling into the room and projecting your chosen film onto any plain white wall or ceiling on demand. As standard, Keecker boasts a six-hour battery life and can even double up as a mobile security camera. Wondrwall, meanwhile, can replace your standard light switches with sensors that can be controlled digitally and also include settings for heating, sound and power, among others. Elsewhere around the home, robot vacuum cleaners from brands such as Neato, Dyson and Eufy can make the housework more enjoyable. Sonos can deliver wireless music from third parties such as iTunes, Spotify and Deezer, and Circle Home allows you to moderate internet access for each member of the family, in particular setting age-appropriate levels and timing limits for children.
The Nokia Sleep can keep tabs on the levels and quality of your sleep, and can also be used to tailor the environment to improve your wellbeing, especially in terms of lighting levels. And finally, if you’re concerned about stepping out without the right attire, then the Netatmo Weather Station does all the fundamentals, including monitoring the temperature, humidity and air quality, both inside and outdoors to ensure you’re appropriately dressed for any eventuality.
As Simon Kelliher of Cambridge builders, Refresh Renovations, observes, the array of time-saving smart home tech available today can be overwhelming, so it’s best to seek the advice of a specialist. ‘Whenever you’re embarking on a new-build, home renovation of extension, it’s always worth pausing to think about how smart home tech can be incorporated,’ says Simon. ‘At Refresh we spend a lot of time in the planning phase to ensure that we cover all the bases, and that means looking at all aspects of the project. One area we focus on is how we can introduce smart tech to make our clients’ homes safer, more efficient and more fun, and we work with all the leading brand names to deliver the best results. The potential to control all aspects of your home via your smartphone is increasing exponentially, so we recommend working with specialists such as Refresh to ensure that the final build incorporates as many smart tech features as possible.’
Are you interested in updating your home with smart features? Refresh Renovations Cambridge provide a range of services and provide exceptional home renovation experiences. For more information, get in touch today.
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