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
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.
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.
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.