The Top 10 Smart Home Gadgets

Thu, 12 Mar 2015

Spring is the perfect time to make your home smarter and your life easier. The market is filled with Smart Home products - its up to you, to choose which ones will work best for you.

This is my Top Ten List for Smart Home Gadgets to make your home safer and more efficient, save you time and money, and even help you sleep better.  And most of these can be controlled with your smart phone.

1. Smart Home System: Wink Smart Home Hub

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy – Home Depot's Wink Hub supplies nearly every smart home wireless connection standard over which the dozens of Wink smart home devices operate. But, unlike other hub-based smart home ecosystems, many Home Depot/Wink devices (those with a blue labels on their retail packaging) don't require the hub, such as the Aros air conditioner.

2. Smart Home Lock: Kwikset Kevo powered by UniKey

A mere touch of your finger unlocks or locks this otherwise normal-looking front door bolt lock. You can assign virtual keys permanently or temporarily, monitor ins and outs remotely, and receive activity alerts via the Kevo app. Kevo's quotidian aesthetics are actually part of its security function – unlike other, perhaps admittedly smarter, locks, nefarious folks will have no clue to Kevo's intelligence. And in case of a technical snafu, Kevo can be opened with a reliable regular key. 

3. Light Bulb: Stack Alba

Stack's Alba Smart LED light bulbs are ready to react based on where you are. Using embedded motion sensors, the bulbs can detect when you're in the room and turn the lights on and off. Inside is an ambient light sensor, allowing the lights to automatically change from a hard white to a softer white, depending on the light in the rest of the room. As an added perk, Alba bulbs work with Nest to keep the heat up when it senses you're home during those blustery winter days.

4. Smart Garage Door Opener: Chamberlain MyQ Garage

Searching or reaching for that elusive garage door opener remote while trying to navigate a dark suburban street, toppled garbage cans or your kids' toys – or your kids – often proves awkward and dangerous. Chamberlain's garage door opener lets you tap your device's screen to open or close your garage from anywhere. Soon, the company also plans to add geo-fencing capabilities so it can sense when you're near your driveway to automatically open and, when your car is safely ensconced inside, close your existing garage door. Part of the Home Depot/Wink ecosystem and Apple's soon-to-be HomeKit initiative, MyQ can control nearly every garage door opener from all the major brands manufactured after 1993.

5. Cookware: Belkin WeMo Smart Slow Cooker

Part of the company's WeMo wireless smart home platform, Belkin's Crock-Pot (released spring 2014 in collaboration with Jarden Consumer Solutions) is the first smartphone-controllable slow cooker. Via the WeMo iOS or Android smartphone app, you can adjust the crock pot's settings from anywhere, receive reminders, change the cook time, adjust the cooking temperature, use the timer to calculate cook times and process, or check the status of your dish so you can come home to a perfectly cooked meal.

6. Best Bed: Sleep Number c2 Bed

Forget fitness trackers doubling as sleep monitors - you want your entire bed to track your sleep. The Sleep Number c2 Bed with Sleep IQ monitors how you sleep all through the night by tracking breathing, heart rate, and movement. With that data, it will give you pointers on how to improve your sleep quality and get some more shut-eye each night. And with the adjustable mattress, you and your partner can customize each side of the bed for the most comfortable night of sleep possible.

7. Thermostat: Nest Learning Thermostat

Wasting money on unused air-conditioning or heating no longer needs to be a concern with the Nest Learning Thermostat. This handy little device learns your schedule in about a week and programs itself to control your home's internal temperature. Or, you can manually adjust things from your smartphone. The folks at Nest insist that 4 out of 5 people can install this smart device in 30 minutes or less, but you can get a professional to do it for you. The company also claims their thermostat will save you up to 20 percent on your bills.

8. Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector: Nest Smoke + CO Alarm

You have both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. But which one is beeping and why? Nest solves these problems by combining the two detectors in one. Nest tells you in actual, clear words what the problem is. You get an early warning just in case it's just your toast burning. To shut it up, just wave your arm under the detector. The device alerts you with a text if there's a problem or the batteries are low and you're not home. It also works in conjunction with Nest's equally smart thermostat.

9. Smart Air Conditioner: Quirky Aros

When you come home to what has become a sauna, you blast your AC at its lowest temperature and highest speed – but this is the most inefficient and budget-busting way to cool your home. Instead, via an iOS or Android Wink app, turn on this first smart AC, an 8,000 BTU unit, to a lower temp and fan speed to gradually cool before you get home. But you may never have to set it; Aros can go on at your preferred settings automatically at specific times or on a specific schedule, when you're not home or it can learn your habits and adjust itself by itself.

10. Video Monitor: Dropcam Pro

Your home just got an extra pair of eyes: the $199 Dropcam Pro surveillance takes continuous 720p video, and features two-way audio, sharp night vision and a powerful digital zoom, letting you see up close what may be lurking in your living room. The Pro model upgrades to a glass lens from plastic in the original model, and adds a motion sensor to the body. Go online or into the companion app to take a look at your home through Dropcam Pro whenever you want, and set alerts for peculiar motions and sounds. Dropcam Pro is the device you to get for those who don’t really want to leave home.

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Royal Lepage
Viraj Tanna

Viraj Tanna
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