No longer just for Hollywood, Smart Homes are here, and they are now accessible to most people. Lights that switch on by voice command, robots vacuuming the floor and self-cleaning toilets might sound like something out of a James Bond movie or an 80’s cartoon but they are fast becoming a part of regular homes. These gadgets aren’t just gimmicks, they are designed to make our lives easier, and with our fast-paced, busy lifestyles these days, who is going to say no to a little extra help?
Wouldn’t it be lovely if our house cleaned itself while we went out and enjoyed the weekend? Well, we aren’t too far off that reality with some of the automated cleaning products on offer.
To start with there is the large array of robot vacuum cleaners. These little guys can be turned on via an app from anywhere and can get to work vacuuming your house before you even get home. These vacuums are so smart they learn the layout of your house so they can avoid walls or falling down the stairs, and the newest models even empty their dust bag all by themselves.
Another new technology in the robot vacuum world is the introduction of a mop attachment. Not only are your floors free from dust after a good vacuum but the floorboards and tiles will be squeaky clean as well.
Nobody likes cleaning the toilet, so any advancement in technology that takes care of that task is very well received. At the top end of the market, you can buy very fancy, self-cleaning toilets that come complete with UV light technology, built-in air fresheners and ‘self-wash’ buttons that release cleaning chemicals into the bowl on demand or at specified intervals. The downside is that you do still need to manually give it a small clean about once a month, so the jury is still out on whether the high price tag is worth it.
Windows are another cleaning pain point in most households. But they no longer need to be such a chore. An automatic window cleaner can be used on any window and are especially useful on the ones too high to safely reach. They work by motor-powered suction, and like the vacuum cleaners above, they have sensors to let them know if there are window frames or obstacles in the way. You can control them via app or a remote control, all from the comfort of your couch.
“Digital assistants” such as Siri, Alexa and Google have been around for a while now, but the list of things they can do is getting more impressive as they understand complicated demands and help us with more information. Gone are the days where Siri was only useful for telling us the weather, the date or the time. Now we can get these home assistant devices to read recipes to us and set timers for the oven as we follow along step-by-step. They can read the news to you, remind you of meetings and appointments you have on today and they can act as the command centre for all the smart devices in your home.
Even the humble fridge can become a great source of information once you buy the ‘smart’ variety. Weather, to do lists, the calendar and even notes between family members can be shared on a digital screen on the front panel. But it takes it even further than that; how often have you been at the supermarket and wondered to yourself if there’s enough milk or eggs at home? Well now you don’t need to wonder, one tap of a button and your phone can activate tiny cameras inside your fridge, so you know exactly what supplies you have. Smart fridges can add items to your shopping list, and some can even do your home delivery grocery order for you.
Another device that helps with handy information is a smart air-conditioning system. Aside from being able to control the temperature of your home from anywhere in the world via an app on your phone, you can also check the exact temperature of each room in the house and change each one according to your individual needs.
Imagine this; it’s the end of a long day at work. You arrive home, open the front door with a simple touch (no keys required), you tell the lights to turn on by themselves and you enjoy the warmth of the house because you started your heating system before you even left the office. This isn’t a scenario reserved just for sci-fi movies anymore. It’s not just regular house lights that can become smart either, there are all kinds of fun and useful light options you can wire up. Soft lights under the bathroom vanity that turn on during the night if they sense you enter the room, lamps dotted around the house, colourful lights behind the TV and even disco style LEDs that flash and change colour can be hooked up anywhere around the home. You can change the ambience of your home by a simple voice command, going from party lights to a movie watching mood in a matter of seconds.
Speaking of movies, home entertainment technology has come leaps and bounds over the past few years. Streaming services allow you to watch any movie you desire, on demand. They also track what you watch and like, so they can make suggestions on what you might want to watch next. You can also place speakers around your house and ask your digital assistant to play a song, a soundtrack or even just a music genre in whatever room you’d like to hear it in.
The number of ways to turn your house into a smart home is almost endless, and with such rapidly changing technology, more options will continue to hit the market each year.