Everywhere you turn these days, you hear just how “smart” your home can be. The high-tech future is here and the “Internet of things” has become more than just blather. Only what exactly does this all mean?
What are the new smart objects available for your home, and how will they all work together? For a glimpse at some of the cutting-edge highlights, check out these products below—some currently for sale, others soon to be released—that can make your house seem a whole lot savvier in the year ahead.
It’s good to be smart!
The upcoming Series 8 edition of the Bosch HomeConnect Refrigerator will snap a photo of the interior every time you shut the door. First, it will convince your kids that the little light does, indeed, go off when the door is shut. But more important, you can view these fridge pics later on your phone when you’re at the store trying to remember if you need milk or if you’re stocked up on dinner ingredients. Bonus: You can keep an eye on how that week-old paella is looking, if you dare. With a price tag of $2,500 this amazing fridge is not cheap.
With the Ring doorbell, it’s as if you’re always home: When visitors ring your bell, the onboard camera transmits theirimages to your cellphone, letting you see who’s destroying your hard-earned privacy and allowing you to talk to these interlopers (or pals!) from wherever you may be. Now you can remotely tell UPS exactly where to leave that package. It comes in at $199.
The Fluxo smart lamp is designed to be the only light in the room. A sleek pendant containing 300 white and colored LED lights, it emits a wide range of light tones and intensities. You can turn on only certain sections in case, say, you want to read on one side of the room and your partner wants to doze on the other. It also stores your favorite types of light, automatically cues them at the right times based on your past usage patterns, and turns off when you leave the room. This is still in a Kickstarter stage, but estimated cost is $450.
Tired of your selfie stick? Get ready for the Selfie Mirror, a device that, true to its name, snaps photos with an HD camera and a lumen light, without the hassle of holding a camera. But the mirror provides a whole list of more essential services from behind its reflective surface: The camera lets you make Skype calls to far-away friends and keep an eye on your home when you’re away. Starting at $199 via Indiegogo
Your front door
If you don’t want to sign on for a full-scale alarm system, the Elephant Door alarm is a decent alternative. Just attach the modules to your door and pair it with your phone. The device contains an accelerometer, gyroscope, and microphone, which detect when somebody tries to enter the door uninvited. When it detects a security breach, the Elephant emits a high-pitched alarm and alerts you to the situation through your device. There's no published price on this fancy bit of tech yet.
If opening different apps to control your armada of smart devices is too much hassle for your future self to stomach, the Smart Remote might just save you. Simply point it in the direction of the device you want to control, and the remote will know which one you’re aiming for—which means you can adjust your speakers, lights, and thermostat according to your whims without leaving your well-worn spot on the sofa. This device also has no published price yet.
Your electrical outlets
The Eve Energy is a little white device that connects to electrical outlets to let you know how much energy is being used by a given outlet, providing a new way to keep your electric bills in check. It lets you switch the appliance in that outlet on and off remotely on your phone, so if you forget to turn the lights off you can do it on your way to work. This helpful tool starts at $199.
Your alarm system
Elarm is a set of sensors you place around your home that send you customized alerts—so you’ll know if an intruder has crossed the threshold, your dog is leaving an unwanted gift on the love seat (again), or if your daughter got home from school. The coolest feature: the Jiggle, a small stick-on sensor that you place wherever you want to detect movement, so you’ll know if, say, your kids are snooping in your closet or whether your elderly dad has taken his medicine.
Some people are scared off of smart home devices by fears that hackers could steal their info or spy on them, but the Pebble aims to put those fears to rest. This sleek and wireless device resembling a river rock continually monitors all of your connected devices and alerts you to suspicious activity: Think of it as a smart device cop. Green equals all good, orange means that an issue has been detected and Pebble is resolving it, and red indicates a security breach that you should investigate, pronto.
It's worth noting that according to the “Smart Homes and Realtors” 2016 report, Realtors said the top three most important smart home tools for clients are smart locks (37 percent), lights (29 percent), and thermostats (26 percent).
The report also revealed cameras are only “somewhat important,” and that clients feel quite ambivalent about other gadgets, such as doorbells, smart appliances and voice control.
When it comes to functionality, Realtors reported clients overwhelmingly focus on items that improve their home’s safety (51 percent) and privacy (45 percent) while driving down costs (44 percent) and energy usage (42 percent).
So updating the technology in your home may not just be a convenience for you, it may also boost your home's sales potential in the future.