The Thingternet. You’ve probably heard the term tossed about – in fact we wrote a recent article on it. It’s the brave new world of internet-connected devices communicating with each other – paving the way for a Jetsons-style future of smart homes and robot butlers.
So, how to get the home of the future, today? You've got plenty of tech to choose from – locks that recognise your mobile, lights and heating you control remotely, security cameras you can check wherever you are, and even a washing machine that'll talk to your phone. Time to smarten up your house.
The first lock and key was made 4000 years ago, out of wood. Since then all we’ve managed to do is make them metal. It’s time to upgrade. Using the August Smart Lock your phone unlocks your front door automatically as you approach. And even when you’re not home you can open the door remotely – for a delivery, say. Thanks to encryption it’s actually safer than a key, which can be copied. Plus you can issue virtual keys to let visitors into your house at certain times – for guests, or a cleaner.
A more simple option is the Yale Keyless Digital Lock – not quite as clever as the August, but it adds some futuristic controls to your door. Imagine this on your office – every time you go in to work you’ll feel like Bond embarking on a mission.
If locks aren’t enough the Canary has you backed up. It senses all. Motion, temperature, humidity and air quality are all monitored, and there’s also a wide angle, HD night vision camera and microphone on board. All of which can be fed to your mobile. Get one early on Indiegogo (where it’s tripled its goal funding) for US$200 (£130).
Let there be light
Ever wanted to stand in your garden, naked, and shout “let there be light?” and have your house actually illuminate? With the Belkin WeeMo Light Switch that’s exactly what you can do – nudity optional. You can control your lights from anywhere with your phone, and work the lights with the attractive switch unit – which is smart enough to turn lights on and off depending on sunrise and sunset times where you live. Not bad for US$50 (£32).
An easy way to add smarts to your lights, without any installation effort. Twist the Philips Hue bulbs in, attach the Wi-Fi adapter to your router, and install the app on your phone. Then you can control colour, light intensity and timer settings all at the touch of a screen. If you've got a Philips Ambilight TV and the Ambilight+Hue app, you can even sync up your bulbs with the TV, spreading colour from the screen all around your room.
For creative types there’s Ninja Block. This hub lets you add sensors and monitor them from anywhere. Want a text when the motion sensor in your hallway goes off? Done. Left your pet at home and want to monitor the temperature? Done. Want to attach a motor to your door and an NFC sensor so it auto-opens on your return? Technically, thanks to Arduino compatibility and the Ubuntu Linux OS this – and anything else you can think of – is possible. That’s a lot of power for US$200 (£130).
Anything plugged in via this WiFi Plug socket can be turned on or off immediately, or at timed moments, from your smartphone. A light, hair strengtheners, your console – whatever you might want to leave on and turn off after you’re out of the house now can be.
The British Gas Remote Heating Control system is a smart way to monitor and control your heating. Change your home thermostat from your mobile, or plan advanced timings using the website – all with simple tradition wall thermostat controls for anyone baffled by the advanced tech.
Then there's the Nest thermostat. Simplicity from smarts makes this a very tempting option. All you need to do is twist the temperature up and down as you need it, and Nest will learn and adapt to your life. Its goal is to create the optimum temperature to suit your life while saving as much energy, and money, as possible. And, of course, it’s all smartphone manageable too. Nest claims the US$250 (£160) price tag pays for itself in energy savings.
The LG Smart ThinQ Refrigerator knows everything it’s holding and adapts it cooling to keep it all fresh. It’ll even tell you when things are due to go off, and suggest meals based on ingredients. Plus you can send it to your phone for an easy shopping list. Although at US$3500 (£2300) we’d expect it to cook our dinners too.
Probably the prettiest coffee machine out there – if beauty is simplicity. The Scanomat lets you use your phone to control this lanky barista for any type of coffee you could hope for. It’ll even self clean for you. Who’s a good barista, you’re a good barista, yes you are.
This smart washing machine named, get this – WF80F5E5W4X 8kg 1400rpm ecobubble Washing Machine – in spite of its complicated name makes problems simple to solve. By alerting your phone to potential issues and suggesting amendments you should be able to avoid breakdowns and calling out the repair guy. Ideal. Unless you’re a, er, adult entertainment star.