Once upon a time, we brought you the ultimate guide to automating your home. But, the beauty of tech is that it just keeps getting better and the smart home trend is no exception. So consider this an update to our previous guide, with even more ways to make your life smarter and way more convenient. A lot of these were originally funded via Kickstarter or Indiegogo and are now available for purchase. Inventors and crowdfunders rule.
1. Sense+: Say goodbye to old school smoke alarms. This is a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector that also functions as an iPhone dock. You set up the app with your preferences and then plug it in to breathe easier. If it detects smoke or carbon monoxide, it sets off an alarm, alerts any contacts you put in your home group in the app, and contacts emergency services. I’m loving that you can alert your family members of an emergency AND get the fire department on the way, automatically!
2. iVee Assistant: We mentioned this in our virtual assistant roundup, but it really is the ultimate smart home hub. First of all, it’s voice-operated, making it insanely easy to use. Not only can it perform basic functions like telling you the weather and setting your alarm, it also can connect to any other smart devices you may have in your home. So if you’ve already hooked yourself up with some automated home devices, you can now just speak to operate them. Thinking out loud finally has a purpose!
3. Valta: We’re all trying to watch our energy use these days — not only does it help the environment, but it helps our wallets, too! That being said, I’m the first to admit being guilty of forgetting to shut off a device when we’re I’m using it. This system, which consists of an app, a hub, and special outlets, automatically detects and alerts you to unused devices. It can even tell whether you’re home or away, and you can set it up so your lights turn off when you leave the house and turn on when you come back… yes, automatically! This one is still waiting on Kickstarter funding, so if you’re interested, be sure to head over there and back the project.
4. Findables: Now, none of these home-controlled-by-your-smartphone gadgets are particularly helpful if you lose your smartphone, are they? This phone case has a QR Code that connects to a profile (you can set up 3!) so that any good Samaritan who finds your phone can get a hold of you. Gone are the days of freaking out when you leave your phone in a cab or at the club. Bonus: you can also connect your social profiles to “friend” people you meet with just a scan.
5. WiSee: Ever wanted to change the channel with a slight wave of your hand? A project out of the University of Washington called WiSee uses wifi signals to allow you to control gadgets based on gestures. When you make a specific movement, like swiping your arm to the right, the wifi signals are altered slightly. The smart receiver of WiSee can detect the pattern and determine what sort of movement you’re making — and then do something about it, like change the channel or turn on the coffee maker. We’re not exactly sure how this filters out all the incidental movements (and sporadic dance parties) you have throughout the day, but I’m sure they thought of that ;) Just imagine the possibilities here.
6. Plair: Now, to tackle your entertainment system. This gadget allows you to connect any wifi-enabled device to any television. Just plug in, pull up a video on your phone or laptop, and get to watching on the big screen! The device is small enough to throw into a suitcase and works on any TV with a USB port. This means you can control basically any TV you encounter on your adventures, making you the ultimate player… er, plair ;)
7. Petzila: Petzila let’s you see live video and chat with your pet from afar. Like one of our favorite home video products, Dropcam, it plugs into an outlet and allows you to talk to your pet while you get video and audio of him or her. You can even set it up to dispense treats, keeping your pet stimulated while you’re out of the house. Wait, is this super cool or super confusing for your dog or cat? The jury is out.
8. Xentry: Got an old smartphone hanging around? Don’t throw it out yet! This new system allows your old phone to get new life… as a doorman! It connects to your home wifi network and let’s you see video of who’s at the door while utilizing the audio functions of your phone to enable you to speak with them. So, now you can let that pesky UPS guy know to leave the package on the stoop or that it’ll be a second before you can get the door. I love that this reuses old tech instead of relying on a whole new product.
9. Kevo: Speaking of doors, what about your lock? Kevo, one of many gadgets that enables you to use your phone to open your doors, allows you to replace your key with your phone, using Bluetooth to connect it to the lock. Not only can you access the door, but you can give other people access, even for a short period of time. For example, you can let your dog walker in while you’re at the office! And if you lost your phone (and Findables hasn’t pulled through!), you can still use a key to get inside.
What part of your home are you dying to automate? Are there any awesome devices we’re missing out on? Talk to us in the comments below.