From a refrigerator that suggests what to make for dinner to a thermostat that automatically lowers the house temperature when you leave for the day, smart home technology continues to evolve. This year we are seeing more and more connected home tech introduced to make your daily living at home easier.
Remote home automation and control is expanding further than that. Here are three innovations that you should keep an eye on this year to make your life a little more convenient and worry free.
Iris Connected Home Kits
Home improvement chain Lowe's has already introduced their Iris line of connected home products. They allow you to monitor your home remotely using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The kits focus on two areas: security to allow you to receive alerts on your smartphone if motion sensors are triggered and comfort to give you remote control of your thermostat and light settings. They also offer one mega kit that covers both these features.
What's new in the Iris line is a number of add-on products being introduced later this year. In the safety category, new Iris products will allow you to remotely check in on seniors living at home, receive alerts if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected, and check if you really did lock the front door when you left for the day.
In the efficiency category, Iris is introducing connected devices that will allow you to monitor your thermostat, sprinkler systems, and light bulbs. And, finally, in the area of convenience monitors will be available to track your pets and to receive reminders when to water your plants.
While you can get many of these kinds of devices already, Iris stands out in keeping all these notifications under one app.
Not ready yet for full home automation? Belkin is introducing a new product in their WeMo line that may ease you in. The WeMo Light Switch is coming this summer and allows you to control the lighting in your house remotely. From your phone or tablet you can turn on and off lights in your house or put them on a schedule.
This product requires you to wire it your home electrical system, which is not quite the "plug and play" technology that others systems offer,
The WeMo line of products currently works only with iOS devices, but Android 4.0 support is coming later this year.
There are quite a few systems out there that allow you to remotely control the lightbulbs in your ceiling, but the Philips hue bulbs have two distinct advantages. First, they don't require you to replace your lightbulb sockets. The wifi chip that allows it to talk to your app is embedded in the bulb itself. Second, the bulb can produce every light in the visible spectrum, allowing you to set your lighting to warm colors for relaxation or bright colors for productivity.
The app that comes with the system does more than just turn the lights one color. It comes with a few clever features such as allowing you to use a picture on your phone or tablet to set the colors of the room. And when you get a color setting your like, you can have the app remember it for later use. Too much customization? Preset lighting schemes are programmed into the app for relaxation, concentration, reading, and energizing environments.
The Philips hue system is currently available for under $300. This includes three bulbs and the router that lets your iPhone or iPad control them. No Android support is available at this time.
These connected home systems are just the tip of the iceberg of what's coming this year. Home automation is a seeing more attention from brand name manufacturers and that means more choice for those looking to make their house more secure, convenient and efficient.