Home automation is a concept that has been around for quite a while, even before Internet use became widespread. It consists of using technology to automatically control certain items around the house, such as window curtains, lights and even pet feeders. In more recent times, home automation technology has become more advanced and affordable.
A growing number of devices besides the typical PCs, tablets and smartphones are now able to connect to the Internet, which enables various forms of remote control. You now have security systems, home appliances, windows and clocks that can get online. This is called the Internet of Things (IoT) and allows individuals to create a smart home with a degree of automation that suits their needs.
Living in a smart home can simplify your life in tremendous ways. For example, you can set your coffee maker to automatically start up in the morning, have a fridge tell you when you’re running low on a certain item and keep an eye on your property when you’re away on vacation by using a security camera system that can be monitored remotely.
While there are dozens of devices you can use to build a smart home, some are more popular than others. Here are some of the best devices you can use to smarten up your home today:
The Amazon Echo is a popular model of smart speaker. The 2017 edition got some functionality upgrades, together with a change in design that now makes it fit in better with your overall home decor. Another advantage it has over the previous edition is that it’s less expensive.
As a smart speaker, the Amazon Echo can do more than just connect to an audio device to play music. You can configure it through the Amazon app on your smartphone, after which it will be able to function mostly on its own. The Echo can access your Amazon Music library, play alarms and reminders at specified times, as well as act as a virtual assistant. You can ask it to retrieve information from the Internet and it will consult thousands of sources in an effort to find what you’re looking for.
Netgear Arlo Pro 2
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 is an outdoor security camera system that lets you keep an eye on your home, no matter where you are. It’s able to record video in 1080p quality and comes with a motion sensor that starts recording when it detects something moving. It even has a siren that allows it to function as an alarm when motion is detected.
One of its top advantages is that it’s very easy to use as both an outdoor and indoor system. The Arlo Pro 2 has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to six months, is fully weatherproof and has a “night vision” mode that lets it capture activity even when it’s dark out.
August Smart Lock Pro + Connect
The August Smart Lock Pro is a type of smart lock that can interface with a variety of other home automation systems. It can even be controlled with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri voice commands. If you want convenience while keeping your home secure at the same time, this is a product worth checking out.
It features sensors that tell you the status of a door (open, left ajar, locked, etc.), lets you keep track of when each door was opened and features a smartphone app that automatically unlocks the door when you’re nearby. It also lets you invite specified people into your home by allowing them to unlock the door with their smartphone at specific times of the day.
The Ecobee4 is a smart thermostat giving you the ability to control the climate in your home in a variety of ways. It has the ability to interface with various systems in your home, such as the heating and air conditioning, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, fans and more. The thermostat can be programmed to certain parameters during specific times of the day. You can control it using the touch panel, mobile app or by using Alexa voice commands.
Philips Hue Bulbs
Philips Hue Bulbs are one of the top smart lighting systems you can find today. They now feature Apple Home Kit compatibility and are more durable than their previous edition. If you’ve never used a smart lighting system, you should know that there are many benefits to having one in your home.
The most obvious one is having the ability to control the lighting from an app on your smartphone, either on demand or by using pre-set schedules that turn the lights on or off in certain rooms at times you’ve specified. Smart lighting systems have many advantages over regular light bulbs. The Philips Hue Bulbs are able to produce hundreds of lighting color hues, giving your room the ambiance you need. While they may cost more than a standard compact fluorescent or LED bulb, they’re built to last up to 22 years, making replacing light bulbs something you’ll rarely have to do.
June Intelligent Oven
If you’ve ever dreamed of having an oven that will instantly recognize the items you’ve put in it and cook them automatically to perfection, then you should take a look at the June Intelligent Oven. It’s a smart countertop oven that lets you bake and roast like a professional chef. Once you’ve put food in, it will ask you to confirm that it detected the items right and will set the temperature and time automatically. Of course, a manual mode is also available in case you want more control or are cooking foods that aren’t in its database.
iRobot Roomba 690
The name “Roomba” has become synonymous with robot vacuums in the last few years. In case you weren’t aware, there are several models of the famous iRobot Roomba, with the 690 being a mid-range smart vacuum edition. The vacuum has improved navigation abilities over previous editions and is noticeably quieter. You can use Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls, as well as a smartphone app to interact with it. Unfortunately, it isn’t yet possible to steer the vacuum using the app.
Belkin WeMo Switch
The Belkin WeMo Switch is a simple home automation devices that can turn a power outlet or light bulb on or off depending on conditions you’ve set on its applet, flash lights to remind you of an event, track your electricity usage, change the temperature of a cooking appliance and more. It can interface with many types of online applications. For example, it can turn on an air purifier automatically if the reported pollen count exceeds a certain threshold.
Smart Up Your Home Today
The Internet of Things is making everyday living more convenient for a growing number of people around the globe. There are many “smart” home accessories you can now choose from that will fit your needs, style and budget. Whether you want a complete automation system that lets you control everything in your home from your smartphone or just want a basic smart speaker that streams your favorite online radio station when you get home for work, there’s always something interesting for you out there.