For most of us, technology hasn’t only become a part of our lives, it is our lives. From our laptops and mobile devices we can communicate with anyone around the world without getting out of bed, staying “connected” even in our sleep. In the race to incorporate computers into our daily lives, few spaces have remained untouched. Our homes, the “analog” environments housing appliances, utilities and other personal items, were set largely apart from the digital revolution. But thanks to the rapid technical advancements of the last few years that’s all begun to change.
“Smart homes” have, in the past, primarily been seen as the stuff from sci-fi movies or the lives of the super-rich. Many would be surprised to learn that one can now retrofit an entire home with “smart” capabilities without significant investment or technical know-how. From the locks to the lights and the oven to the vacuum, almost all home appliances are now imbued with the capacity to connect and communicate, all due to recent innovations in home security and automation from companies like Honeywell and Brinks (Brinks Home Security is now ADT).
Automated lights, locks, and alarms are just the beginning of new smart home technology. Apple’s Home Kit and Apple Watch represent the latest trend in connecting you to your personal residence - fusing the inner workings of your body, your wearable, and your home platform together for the ultimate in connectivity and convenience. The Home Kit will make your iPhone or Apple Watch into a remote control for your entire home. There will be a suite of apps that work with it, and are already connected to specific devices or systems like your oven or door locks. From there all you have to do is tell Siri “its bed time” and the lights shut off and the doors lock automatically.
Of course, the Home Kit and its corresponding apps would be nothing without the appliances connected to it, of which there are already several standouts. No “smart” kitchen is complete without a computerized refrigerator, and Samsung’s “smart fridge” (otherwise known as the RF28HMELBSR/AA) makes it the centerpiece of your kitchen. The four door, stainless steel appliance has everything users would expect from a refrigerator and then some. In addition to keeping food cool, it also has an interactive, Wi Fi-connected touchscreen that allows the user to check the weather, browse recipes, play music or use other apps for maintaining a healthier diet.
If you’re not ready or willing to commit to a new refrigerator, then the Neo Smart Jar might be just the thing you need. The crowdfunded container has built in sensors that weigh its contents and will add them to your grocery list when you’re getting low. Beyond that, the app also comes with tons of recipes incorporating the assorted ingredients you have in your smart jars, even keeping track of their “best by” dates for you.
After the kitchen comes, well, the bathroom. That room is getting a tech makeover too, though unfortunately not in the form of instantly flattering mirror lighting. Toto, a technology company from Japan, created the Intelligent Toilet II which can monitor health metrics such as weight, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and other information from your “deposits” before showing them in graphs on your computer. Of course that’s not all it’s got: this toilet also offers a temperature controlled bidet cleaning system with warm air dryers, completely eliminating the need for toilet paper.
Because both a new refrigerator and a new toilet might break the bank for some, there is another way to incorporate the latest tech into your home set up: the lights. Belkin’s WeMo Smart LED Bulb may cost $25, but with a life expectancy of 23 years, that’s a pretty good return on investment. Beyond having a life expectancy longer than most pets, the light bulbs are able to be controlled remotely through your phone meaning you can set them on timers, dim them, or turn them on and off without even being at home. This can translate into even more savings on your electricity bill, not to mention a fun party trick or two at your next get together.