The “Home of the Future” has been touted at various World Fairs and Disney’s Epcot for years. These displays show off innovative gadgets that allow the home to basically run itself—or at the very least make it a little easier for you to do so. Now that futuristic home with automated locks, cooking-made-easy devices and remote control—well everything—is looking a lot like the home of the present.
Lighting: A Hue of Your Choosing
Back in 2012, Philips released hue ($60 for a single bulb and $200 for the three-bulb starter pack), a smart web-enabled LED home lighting system that allows you to not only control your lights from your smartphone or tablet, but to also create the perfect lighting atmosphere—you can even set a timer to create a sunrise effect so you gradually wake up to shades of yellow and orange. Recently, Philips released hue 1.1, an update that makes the lights even more intuitive. For instance, your lights will automatically turn on when you are near (thanks to your phone’s GPS) or you can set timers so that your lights flash to alert your kids that it is time for bed.
Home Automation: Making Everyday Devices Smart
SmartThings ($200 to $300) was based on a simple idea: What if everything in your house could be “smart” and connected on one easy-to-use platform. The SmartThings system delivers on that promise using a hub (the system’s brain), sensors (both motion and moisture), and plug and control outlets. You can also create your own SmartApps for any plugged-in device to make them do whatever you want. Suddenly, your iron knows to shut off whenever you leave the house. Sensors are alerting you via text when your dog runs out; a door, drawer or window is opened when no one is home; or a pipe suddenly bursts. Even better, SmartThings is also an open platform so the possibilities are endless.
Kitchen: The Automated Gourmet Cook
Sous-vide is a method of cooking—used by Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide—that ensures food is cooked “just right” (not to mention mouth-watering juicy). Sous-vide is not even that hard to do. Food is placed in an airtight bag and then cooked in hot water at the optimal temperature for that particular food. The hard part is that it must also remain at that temperature and sous-vide machines that can do that are quite costly. But now, Codlo—a new product being financed through Kickstarter in the U.K. (with a U.S. version available)—is a small device that connects with your rice or slow cooker and transforms it into a sous-vide machine. You can just set it, place the food in and forget it until your gourmet meal is ready to be enjoyed.
Home Security: A View From Home
Canary is a smart home security device currently being crowd-funded on Indiegogo through August 26. In its mere 6-inch package, Canary packs an HD camera with night vision; a high-quality microphone; sensors for motion, temperature, humidity and air quality; and more. Just plug it in, download the app and you can view a live video feed of your home. The device also sends alerts to your phone if it detects a possible intruder or if the temperature suddenly spikes which could mean a fire. Canary also learns your home’s rhythms so it will send smarter alerts over time.
Lock: Opening New Possibilities
The Goji Smart Lock (expected to be available in December for $278) turns your smartphone into the key for your home. The digital lock uses bank-level security algorithms—128-bit encryption—and opens only when a smartphone with the encryption code approaches. You can also lock and unlock your doors from anywhere and give people—such as a dog walker—a temporary pass that only works during specific times of day. The lock also sends picture alerts of anyone who tries to activate it right to your phone so you always know who is at your doorstep.