The relationship between man and machine isn’t the stuff of science fiction anymore. Cars, TVs, home appliances, and mobile devices are more sophisticated than ever. They can even communicate with one another. By 2020, predicts Gartner Inc., a leading technological research firm, 25 billion things will be connected and in everyday use.
This phenomenon is known as the Internet of Things. The IoT not only makes life more convenient, but it saves time, energy, resources, and money. Furthermore, it’s just cool.
Equipment for the heart of the home is increasingly smart. If your cutlery isn’t Bluetooth-enabled, you’re a little behind. Take a look at some examples:
LG Electronics, a longtime leader in cutting-edge technology, has outdone itself in the kitchen. The InstaView ThinQ multitasking fridge can all but warn your toaster that your bread is about to burn.
Amazon Alexa is built into the appliance. So, while you’re chopping onions, you can ask your fridge to update you on the weather or remind you of your next dental appointment. If you ask nicely, it will add paper towels to your shopping list.
Using the high-definition transparent touch screen, you can set food expiration dates or leave notes for your kids. Knock twice on the tinted glass, and the interior of the unit will illuminate so you can see you’re running low on beer without ever opening the door. Before heading home from the office, you can use your smartphone to connect with a panoramic camera inside the fridge.
This clever appliance will even read your recipe to you as you cook.
The latest Crock-Pot is WeMo-enabled to be monitored from anywhere. Yes, you still have to assemble the ingredients and put them into the pot, but feel free to take a good book to the beach and let technology take it from there.
Check the cooking status, adjust time or temperature, or turn off the Crock-Pot from your smartphone. Plus, the pot will let you know when dinner’s ready.
Nothing is more frustrating than forgetting to start the dishwasher, but manufacturers have got you covered. A smart machine will send you a reminder to flip the switch. It will keep track of detergent pods and rinse aid in order to let you know when it’s time for a restock. In the event of a leak, you’ll be the first to know.
Not so long ago, talking dishes and cutlery were the work of Disney animators. Today, depending on how you look at it, avant-garde tableware can either help you stay fit or wreck your life.
The HAPIfork raises a small electronic ruckus if you’re scarfing pasta faster than you should be. The 10-inch SmartPlate, equipped with weight sensors, chides you for overserving yourself. The plate also has tiny cameras to record your eating habits and send the data to your fitness app.
Even trash cans are savvy these days. The GeniCan, for instance, starts compiling a shopping list when you scan the bar code on a can or food wrapper that you’re throwing away.
Whether you want to deter burglars or just keep tabs on your teenagers, IoT technology exists to make it happen. Depending on your budget, you can customize a do-it-yourself monitoring system or have your home surveilled by security pros 24/7.
Smart systems connect to your Wi-Fi network. Features may include motion detectors, door and window sensors, automatic locks, garage door openers, or surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology. Some programs send alerts when smoke, carbon monoxide, or flooding is detected. Others, believe it or not, can detect a lifestyle anomaly such as a sudden influx of visitors at an unusual time. Your kids will have a hard time throwing a party without your knowing about it.
You can control the best systems from anywhere using your mobile device. For example, if an outdoor motion sensor is triggered, you can start recording footage or raise an alarm.
In addition to complete security systems, there are lots of affordable, groundbreaking gadgets to help keep you safe. The innocuous-looking Ring doorbell, for example, sends an alert to your mobile device when you have visitors. Thanks to a built-in microphone, you can explain that you’re getting a pedicure. Ring also captures video footage, so you can report suspicious activity from anywhere.
There are endless ways to make it easy on yourself at home. If you’ve ever fancied a smart indoor garden, compact home brewery, or robotic lawn mower, there’s nothing to stop you now.
Here are some of the most innovative smart gadgets.
This nifty thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature to suit your lifestyle. It somehow knows when you’re out and powers down the HVAC system. You can program or change settings from a mobile device to make your home comfortable for your return.
The Nest also analyzes usage and points out habits that are costing you money.
BedJet is doing its best to help consumers rest easier. The personal climate comfort system enhances sleep with biorhythm temperature technology.
iRobot Braava Jet
Robotic vacuum cleaners have been around for a few years, but this smart machine systematically mops the floor. It takes special care around walls, rugs, and furniture, and you needn’t worry about it when you’re occupied in another room. Cliff detectors keep it from taking a tumble down the stairs.
Lucis Full Color Mood Lamp
Don’t look for switches or cords on this lightweight, portable lamp. Simply tap it to choose from 16 million colors. There’s bound to be one that suits your mood.
If you forget to tell your dog to stay out of the trash while you’re at work, dial up your furry friend on PetChatz. It’s made of indestructible, pet-friendly materials and mounts on a wall outlet. There’s nothing like face time with Fido when you’re traveling.Busakorn Pongparnit / Getty Images