Smart home technology is rapidly on the rise. From remote-controlled security cameras to the humble solar garden light – many of us are starting to wake up to the benefits of smart.
New technologies are, without doubt, making our lives more convenient, comfortable and safer while also helping us save time, energy and effort.
On the interiors front, smart gadgets can add modern flourishes to your home décor – replacing old-fashioned models with sleeker, more compact designs. Equally, with some careful consideration to the many styles available – colour, finish, mini versions etc - your gizmo can often blend seamlessly into traditional surroundings.
Here we look at 10 smart gadgets that will add immeasurably to your day-to-day activities, while avoiding any clash with your home decoration.
Google Home is part of a line of speakers that includes Google Home Hub and Google Home Mini – which are all marketed under the Google Nest brand.
With Google Assistant built in, Google Home will check the news and weather, make speakerphone calls, play music, answer search engine queries and manage your calendar.
Most importantly, your Google Home can control other smart devices around your home such as your Nest thermostat (see below), lights, cameras, or speakers.
Google Nest Thermostat
Google Nest Thermostat is smart indeed – within a few days of moving in with you, it will learn your heating habits and preferences and quickly fall into line. It will pick up the pattern and control the system, including your hot water, like a seasoned pro.
This thermostat has sensors so it can sense if you leave the house (through your mobile phone location), lowering the temperature accordingly – and thus your energy costs. And if you want to up the temperature while you’re away, you can just tap the app to make the necessary adjustment.
The Nest has an easy-to-read display and comes in a variety of shades to fit with the colour scheme in your room.
Hue smart light bulbs
Check out the range of Philip Hue smart light bulbs and add a little ambience or even a vintage vibe to your home.
This is a fantastic little addition to any scenario. It can help create mood lighting while earning you some energy brownie points at the same time.
The LED bulb communicates wirelessly with the Hue Bridge, which is a small device you plug into your router. The bulb is controlled through the Hue bluetooth app for iOS or Android and can respond to voice commands through your Alexa or other virtual assistant.
Hue lights are energy-efficient and come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, so you can choose to suit the style of your room or home.
Smart plugThe smart plug is genius. All you have to do is pop the plug into a socket, link it to your Wi-Fi and download the app. Then plug an appliance into your smart plug and you’ll be able to control that appliance on your phone from wherever you are.
Your smart plug can also connect to your smart home hub, such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home, and operate off voice commands.
Smart plugs are great for saving energy as they can monitor appliance energy use. There’s a lot to be said for this flexible little multitasker.
Tired of buying potted herbs from the supermarket that wilt in your window before you have time to slice the tomatoes? The smart garden might be for you.
Not only does this unit bring a little greenery to your countertop, but it is also an easy-to-use growing device that leaves no mess. It provides nutrients to the plants, manages the LED lighting and is self-watering too.
Download your smart garden app to your iOS or Android phone and have fresh basil to hand whenever you wish. Watch your food waste diminish and your garden blossom with herby favourites and baby vegetables all year round.
The smart (video) doorbell is a safety feature a lot like a security camera. You connect it up to the internet and it can give you real-time video direct from your doorstep.
When a visitor rings the bell, you’ll get a notification on your phone – whether you’re at home or not. If you’re there you can either chose to open the door or to talk to the caller through your phone. They won’t know if you are there or not.
The live video can also be linked up to smart home devices that have a screen, such as Google’s Nest Hello.
Make your mug of lukewarm tea a thing of the past by keeping your drink warm in a smart mug. You can control the temperature of the mug through an app on your iOS or Android phone, and – in true energy-saving style – you’ll never have to boil the kettle again!
The mug charges easily through a USB cable and the charging coaster keeps the drink hot all day. Perfect for the home office.
Short of having your own in-house chef, the smart cooker is the next best thing. This modern cooking pot will have your meal ready for you when you get home. It will cook very precisely to time and alert you if anything is over cooking.
All you need to do is connect your all-singing cauldron to your WiFi and download an app.
Smart cookers are usually multi-cookers, so they can cook a wide range of food from casseroles to cakes, puddings to potatoes.
Use the smart cooker once, and there’s no going back. You can link it up to your Alexa, change the settings remotely and control your steamed vegetables from anywhere in the world. What’s not to like?
Home security camera
Marry the traditional security camera concept with a smart one and you’ll have a super-duper surveillance device. Connect your WiFi and view the footage in real time. You can control the security camera remotely from your phone and upload footage to the Cloud.
When choosing a security camera, look for high resolution, fast motion detection, a wide field of view, night vision and two-way audio.
The best smart security cameras are easy to install, have a long battery life and give you great peace of mind – especially when you’re away from home.
Solar garden lights
There’s no real downside to using solar lights in your garden. They are a wonderful way to accentuate your best garden features, in an environmentally friendly way.
Taking power solely from the sun, they waste no energy at all. They come in a wide variety of shapes and designs, are cheap to buy, have a long service life, make your garden and driveway safer, have no cables, no need for an electrician…and oh, the list goes on.