Smart Homes: The Homes of the Future

It started with Siri on your phone, but now smart technology has taken over the home.

While it may sound a little Space Odyssey/HAL 9000, smart homes are the way of the future.

The main aim of smart technology is to make life a little easier. Think remotely controlling everything from your clocks and lights to your hot water heaters and window shades. Smart homes are more cost-effective, eco-friendly and energy efficient. So, how do you make your home work smarter?

The smartest products you need

1. A voice-activated assistant

You may have heard a friend calling out to Alexa and thought to yourself, “Who’s Alexa?” Or maybe you’ve heard them asking Google a question and wondered why they’re talking into space? Voice-activated assistants operate out of Bluetooth speakers and are often the base of your smart home. They listen to voice commands to play music, set alarms and timers, close curtains and more – without a control in your hand. Among the most popular options are Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s aptly named Google Home, and Apple’s HomeKit system.

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2. Smart lights

No, you don’t need to get up to turn the lights off when you’ve just got comfortable in bed. Systems like the Philips Hue Starter Kit work with smartphones, voice assistants and smart accessories (like motion sensors) to not only sync your lights to your alarm and control them when you’re not home but also change the colour. For those who like hosting friends on the weekend, you can even get apps for Christmas and disco-themed lighting!

3. A smart oven

Dread coming home to prep dinner after a long day at work? Say hello to your new best friend! The soon-to-be-released KitchenAid Smart Oven+. If your hands are busy elsewhere, the oven can be controlled via multiple voice assistants. It can help you reduce household waste and offer personalised meal planning through Yummly app. It also has an LCD screen and three attachments that minimise smoke, make it easier to cook for multiple hungry mouths and reduce cooking time.

Kitchenaid Smart Oven

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4. Smart security

When it comes to safety, seeing is believing. There are a number of home security systems with fully automated CCTV that can be accessed through an app. You can integrate video doorbells, motion sensors, alarms, gates, doors and locks to give yourself peace of mind. Most smart security systems allow customisation so you can have the doors unlock when a smoke alarm goes off, or a camera start recording when a sensor is triggered.

5. A thermostat

Realising you’ve left the heater on when you leave for work is a bummer but with smart gadgets like the ecobee3, you can turn it off using your smartphone and even your Apple Watch! This smart little box uses room sensors to make sure the rooms you’re in are heated or cooled to your preferred temperature. Plus, it gives nifty energy reports on run times and tips for further savings. You can check live weather updates, set programs, and quickly change temps without overriding existing schedules.

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Make your home work smarter, not harder

The almost endless array of smart home gadgets and technology can be dizzying. It’s important to remember not everything will work for you: if you don’t cook much, a smart oven probably isn’t going to be a smart financial choice.

To get started, smart home technology requires a Wi-Fi signal, a smart device like a phone or tablet, and often Bluetooth capabilities. Some retailers offer their own proprietary home systems, so you can stick within a branded ecosystem. Others have individual gadgets that can be linked with popular voice-activated assistants.

Do you want to reduce your energy bill? Maybe have the heater on when you get home from work in winter or make your home more liveable for your family? Identifying what is important for you will help you grow your own smart home to meet your individual lifestyle, budget, and timetable.

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