Outfitting Your Home with Smart Technology
From Smart Appliances to Security Systems and Personal Assistants
Mornings can be quite hectic - especially if you have a family, or a long commute to work. Most people spend an average of one to two hours getting ready, making coffee, packing lunches, and trying their best to remember to pull dinner out of the freezer. Fortunately, tech companies are doing their part to make our lives easier by inventing gadgets that can take minutes, or even hours, off of our schedule. Imagine what more you could do with the 15 minutes it takes to make coffee every morning or check your agenda. We’ve been keeping a close eye on a lot of these products, and have gathered a list of our favorites. Check out the top smart gadgets to help simplify your morning routine.
We may not have flying cars, like Robert Zemeckis predicted in “Back to the Future,” but we do have an array of intriguing smart appliances. Though some make us seriously question their importance to human existence - like smart toasters - others prove to be far more useful, and valuable additions to our day-to-day lives. For example, smart coffee makers.
You may think that smart coffee makers are a mere gimmick. After all, you can program most coffee makers to brew on a timer. But what if you could control your coffee pot without having to leave the comforts of your own bed? Now, you can purchase a coffee maker that can not only handle the standard programming - for the old fashioned connoisseurs, of course - but can be activated using an app on your phone. App-enabled coffee makers range in price
and functionality from $60 to a few thousand dollars, but there are many great options within an affordable price range. From single serve, to full pot, to freshly-ground espresso, there’s a smart coffee maker for everyone. The Smarter Coffee 2nd Generation retails for $249.99, and is compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. It’s a full serve, full pot ordeal, with automation features and a built-in bean grinder - truly a dream come true. But, if you’re looking for something more affordable and aren’t afraid to sacrifice some functionality, the Behmor Brewer Connected Coffee Maker retails for $169.99. It might not have the same automation features, but it’s still smarter than your average cup of Joe. Fresh coffee in bed; who says money can’t buy happiness?
For the working parents out there, who don’t have time or energy to cook a four course dining experience after a long day at work, the wonderful world of tech has blessed us with your new best friend - the smart slow cooker. Slow cookers were already fairly simple. You just have to remember to put the food in and turn it on. But life happens, and you forget to press start, or you’re running late home and don’t want to overcook your meal. Thankfully, some genius invented a slow cooker that can be controlled using an app on your phone. Much like the smart coffee makers, above, these slow cookers can save you precious time and effort. The Crock-Pot WeMo Smart Slow Cooker retails for $149.99 and can be controlled via the free WeMo app. Using the app, you can set cook times, temperature, and even monitor the cook of your food. Not only is a smart slow cooker a huge time-saver, but it’s a reassurance that your home, and meal, are safe in good hands.
Smart Locks and Security Systems
Speaking of safety, more people are turning to smart home security and lock systems. Although they were first released quite a few years ago, new and improved models are coming out frequently - each with their own unique set of features. By removing the need for a physical key, smart locks make it easier to manage the security of your home, allow multiple people access with your unique code, and eliminate the complications of human error. There’s nothing worse than having your dog-sitter lose your house key. Like most smart appliances, smart locks come in a variety of options and feature- sets. The most popular model on the market is the August Smart Lock with HomeKit. This smart lock works with Amazon Alexa, can be controlled using voice commands, and even keeps track of who’s been entering your home, all while using the handy app. Though it may seem a bit pricey, at $297, it only costs a bit more than the coffee maker, and ensures the safety of your home. Some companies have chosen to go with a more all-encompassing lock system - like the Schlage Sense, which features a standard keyhole, pin-pad system, and app functionality. This lock has more features, but can cost anywhere between $230 to $450. The Schlage is also only compatible with Apple devices.
If you’re interested in a more in-depth security system, there are many smartenabled surveillance technologies available, ranging from baby monitors to Guantanamo Bay-style video cameras. As they range in functionality, they also vary in price. You can pick up an app-enabled baby monitor for under $200, or outfit your entire home in thousands of dollars worth of video cameras. The possibilities are endless, but most people opt for simple, affordable security cams, like the Amazon Cloud Cam or the Nest Hello. Both are app-compatible, feature
motion notification, and 1080p HD video. While they’ve received similar reviews, the Nest Cam has better functionality, including facial recognition. The Nest Cam retails for roughly $250, whereas the Cloud Cam is a bit more affordable, at $160. A small price to pay for pocket-sized security.
Smart Speaker Assistant
Gone are the days of having to be a high-paid executive with a corner office to warrant a personal assistant. Now, you can simply purchase one at your local electronics store. With the recent boom of smart speakers, companies are manufacturing personal assistants of all shapes and sizes. As long as you have access to a Wi-Fi connection and a smartphone, you can bark commands into space and manage to schedule your day. Why not start your morning with good tunes and task management?
The beauty of smart speakers is their simplicity. Once you have all of your apps downloaded and synced, you can start using them within seconds. Smart speakers, and smart assistants, come in a variety of forms. There are handheld versions, leading all the way to bookshelf sized speakers. Each come with their own pros and cons - some are better for sound, others for usability - and the choice comes down to personal needs. If you’re a fan of user-friendliness and all-around functionality, we recommend Google’s line of smart speakers - the Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max. They are easy to use, have more than enough features, and are compatible with most devices. Their sound isn’t fantastic, but they beat the competition with their usability. On the other hand, if you’re partial to music listening, and don’t mind being locked into a specific ecosystem, we recommend the Apple HomePod. The HomePod might not have all the features of the Google Home, but it’s better suited for music playback. There are a multitude of speakers, and other devices, enabled with smart assistants. If you’re looking for other options, you can check out Amazon Alexa enabled speakers - though we find Alexa a lot less accommodating than other assistants!
The smart technology industry is booming, and the possibilities are endless. If you found any of these products interesting, or want to learn more about smart home technology, stay tuned for more articles on smart technology in the next edition of NOVO Magazine.
The Smarter Coffee 2nd Generation coffee maker offers a built-in grinder and can be activated with just a couple of taps on your phone.
The Crock-Pot WeMo Smart Slow Cooker allows you to control all of its functions via the WeMo app on your phone to ensure a perfectly cooked meal every time, even when you’re not at home.
The Apple HomePod offers all the major features you would expect from a smart speaker, plus a great music listening experience.
The August Smart Lock lets you to open your door with your phone and allows you to grant access to family and friends when you’re away, with a just few taps of the app.