THE SMART HOME

The lat­est tech­nol­ogy re­ally is de­signed to make life eas­ier, trans­form­ing the way we use all our elec­tri­cal ser­vices and putting con­trol at our fin­ger­tips

Homes & Gardens - - CONTENTS - fea­ture he­len stone

How the lat­est tech­nol­ogy can make cook­ing, en­ter­tain­ing, house­work and life in gen­eral eas­ier.

Home au­to­ma­tion is no longer a sci-fi fan­tasy of the fu­ture – it’s here now, and the good news is it’s prac­ti­cal, easy to use and a bit smarter than you might ex­pect. From home cinema and light­ing to mu­sic sys­tems and se­cu­rity, smart tech­nol­ogy prom­ises to put con­trol at your fin­ger­tips, so your home works bet­ter for you.

Far from be­ing geeky, gim­micky and suit­able only for big bud­get new-builds, a lot of ac­ces­si­ble home tech is based around light­ing, heat­ing and home en­ter­tain­ment. Plus, as with any home in­stal­la­tion, you choose the level to suit you; that might be a com­plex con­nected de­sign plan with on­go­ing concierge ser­vice from an ex­pert home au­to­ma­tion com­pany such as Corn­flake or, as the new John Lewis Smart Home ex­pe­ri­ence show­cases, a sim­ple start with a few bits of kit out of a box.

IN­TU­ITIVE RE­SPONSE

Off-the-shelf so­lu­tions are con­trolled by apps via a smart­phone or tablet. They are sim­ple to set up and sur­pris­ingly so­phis­ti­cated, too. Some smart hubs use sen­sors and algorithms to learn your us­age pat­terns and then start to re­spond au­to­mat­i­cally, for in­stance, ad­just­ing heat­ing to reach the per­fect tem­per­a­ture as you walk through the door, but it’s easy to over­ride any func­tion, at any time, such as when you’re work­ing late or away on hol­i­day.

WHAT’S AVAIL­ABLE?

Mu­sic tech­nol­ogy re­mains the most pop­u­lar, with sys­tems such as Sonos pip­ing tunes into ev­ery room. Light­ing comes a close sec­ond, with in­tu­itive sys­tems such as Philips Hue and LIFX mak­ing it easy to cre­ate a per­son­alised, re­spon­sive scheme that can dou­ble as a form of se­cu­rity, en­abling you to turn on lights re­motely while you’re away from home. Smart ther­mostats, such as Nest and Hive, mean you can con­trol cen­tral heat­ing, sav­ing en­ergy and money, while home se­cu­rity cam­eras are also pop­u­lar.

TAI­LORED TO YOUR LIFE­STYLE

Your choices will de­pend on your house­hold and its needs. New par­ents might ap­pre­ci­ate au­to­mated low-level light­ing that comes on as they get up dur­ing the night, pet own­ers re­port feel­ing re­as­sured by a cat cam, and a good range of ba­sics can be a real boon to the el­derly liv­ing alone, but do make sure that any sys­tem is suit­ably user friendly. Be­fore buy­ing, check out man­u­fac­tur­ers’ web­sites as they are very good at pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion clearly, of­ten with help­ful videos.

Au­dio visual sys­tems are among the most pop­u­lar and easily ac­ces­si­ble smart home fea­tures. Sound sys­tem by Art­cous­tic, art­cous­tic.com.

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