In the past, we have written pieces about future tech in your home and how to make your home a smart house, but since then, as is the nature of technology, a whole host of new and technologically advanced products have come onto the market.
You’d be surprised just how many devices can connect to each other in your house, and how you can operate them. Commonly referred to as ‘the internet of things’, in this blog we introduce you to some of the great gadgets you can get to bring your home into the future.
Especially relevant if you’re living in London or another busy area, air quality is a subject that affects us all, but is one we don’t often want to address. Foobot brings the importance of air freshness to your home, as it measures what’s in the air and keeps you updated on the quality. After all, some reports claim that being next to a busy road is as bad for you as smoking. The Foobot measures Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which can cause short and long-term health problems; Particulate Matter (PM), which are tiny particles of dust often associated with lung cancer and cardiovascular disease; humidity, which can cause black mould and toxic bacterial mist; and temperature, which has an impact on the severity of the problems above. Foobot can also be used in conjunction with other smart devices.
Have you ever wanted to use remote control gestures, but without the remote control? Well, Singlecue has you covered! Using this hub, you can control various smart devices around your house with the wave of a finger, as per the example in this video. The advantages? No more looking for remotes and no more feeling like your house isn’t part of the next generation. Disadvantages? You will definitely need to stop wagging your finger at people.
If your smart home is having trouble getting decent wifi, it could be due to the router. Google WiFi is a connection system to replace your router and promises great internet connection anywhere in your house. By spreading the wifi points (the number you need depends on the size of your property) you can make sure your entire house is covered. It also includes Network Assist, which automatically switches which wifi point a device uses depending on the internet congestion. Of course, if you live in a small house/apartment, you won’t be able to experience the full potential of Google WiFi, but anyone who has had to deal with arguments over where in the house the router should go will appreciate the improved internet quality.
With increased sharing across connected devices comes increased security threats. People’s attention on security often only focuses on physical security (locks, lights etc.) or computer software (anti-virus software), but the devices in your house are just as vulnerable. CUJO is a security feature that will let you know if any suspicious activity is detected. It’ll let you know via an app if anything has been detected or blocked, allowing you to get on with your future-tech life, worry-free.
Not to be confused with The Ring, a movie about watching a video that will kill you, Ring is a smart camera for your front door – video you will want to watch at much less personal risk. The 1080p camera works like an intercom, except this time you don’t need to get up and check the intercom on your side because it sends the feed directly to your smartphone or device. This means you can talk to someone at your door – say, a delivery guy or a neighbour asking for a favour – even if you’re on the other side of town. With a high-quality camera, you can also monitor your yard from wherever you are, such as if you have a ‘funny feeling’ about something in your garden. It’s also helpful to deter break-ins because you can talk to anyone in your garden from anywhere, so as far are criminals are aware, you’re still at home!
Like the idea of remote-less control over your smart devices, but find the finger gestures too weird? Well, Google has its own solution, Google Home. It’s a voice-activated smart hub, where you simply give your requests by asking for them, verbally. This includes basic requests, like playing music (being Google, it will probably use YouTube and thousands of algorithms to pick a track), or more complex ones, like giving your schedule for the day. It sounds pretty cool, although its usefulness will obviously diminish if you have anything you need to stay quiet for, such as a sleeping other half. For anyone worrying about having a device listening to them all the time, there is a mute button for any time you want some privacy.
Google Home came out in the States on November 4th but should be making its way to UK shelves soon.
Amazon recently came out with Amazon Echo, a large, voice-activated smart device/speaker to compete with Google Home. With its internal speaker, you could ask for music to be played and it would. The Echo Dot has been developed as a smaller alternative. The main new feature – other than its significantly smaller size – is that it can be wired up to external speakers for those that want better audio quality for their music. The internal speaker still works, of course, and when the AI speaks to you (Alexa, as it’s known) the audio comes through just fine, but music lovers will find the internal speaker lacking. Much like Google Home, the Echo Dot can also be connected to your other smart devices, giving you control of the TV or lights or even ordering delivery with voice commands. If you’re thinking there’s a pretty significant design flaw here, don’t worry – it can receive audio commands even when playing music. Somehow.
Of course, with technological innovation showing no signs of slowing down – especially among the Internet of Things – devices are always being improved upon and upgraded. The risk of investing in these products is that a better version could come out six months later! But don’t let that put you off; smart devices are looking very impressive at the moment, so it’s a good time to upgrade to a future tech, smart home.