Out­fit­ting Your Home with Smart Tech­nol­ogy

From Smart Ap­pli­ances to Se­cu­rity Sys­tems and Per­sonal As­sis­tants

NOVO - - WHAT’S REALLY BEHIND THE VINYL RESURGENCE? - by Alyssa Cas­tle

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.

Smart Ap­pli­ances

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.

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