In the past few years, “smart” home tech has transformed from a niche hobby to a mass market industry. Across the increasingly mainstream and affordable landscape of connected devices, there are myriad options for making life more convenient. Here’s a quick list of a few stand-out options.
Multi-colored Smart Lighting
The Philips Hue brand of light bulbs allows you to control not just the brightness but also the color of your lights. There are more than 16 million shades for you to try out. You can interface with the system using your smartphone or tablet. These bulbs use LED technology, so they tend to last a lot longer than incandescent bulbs while drawing much less electricity. They are a bit pricey at about $150 for a starter kit, but if you’re not interested in colored lights, then you can save a bit of money by opting for a Hue White starter kit, which clocks in at less than $100.
Roomba Vacuum Cleaner
Almost everyone knows that iRobot is the name to trust when it comes to automated vacuum cleaners. What some are unaware of, though, is that the company is constantly innovating and offers several different models. The Roomba 890, which can be had for about $500, is the firm’s latest creation. While it doesn’t provide the multi-room capabilities and auto-recharging features of the high-end 960 and 980 models, it is able to follow a custom schedule and contains a high-efficiency filter to capture 90 percent of allergens.
Amazon basically dominates the smart speaker category with its Echo unit. Sophisticated audiophiles scoff at its middle-of-the-road audio output, but this isn’t why people are buying it by the millions. Echo contains the virtual assistant Alexa, which interacts with users through normal speech. Alexa already works with countless other pieces of home equipment, so it can act as a hub of sorts, and more third-party compatibility is being constantly added to the Alexa Skills Store. The Google Home speaker comes with a similar Assistant software agent, but it has a lot of work still ahead of it to eclipse Amazon’s healthy lead in this area.
The HydroHammock is a combination hammock, hot tub, shower, water bed and more. It can hold 80 gallons of water and up to two people as long as the total weight is no more than 750 pounds. A complete set of a hammock and water heater will cost you close to $2,000, but this may be worth it if you want to be able to enjoy the comforts of the indoors while camping, hiking or just lazing around outside on a chilly day.
Smart Air Purifiers
A home air purifier works by passing the air you breathe through carefully engineered filters to remove unwanted particulate matter. Look for one that’s certified to be U.S. HEPA compliant because it will filter out at least 99.97 percent of objects as small as 0.3 microns wide. Smart models allow you to monitor and adjust their performance remotely, but the jury’s still out on whether or not these features warrant the extra cost of a smart air purifier versus an old-school one. Prices vary widely depending on the attributes you seek, but look to spend a few hundred dollars for a quality unit.
Sous Vide Cuisine
For savory, full-flavored meals, you may wish to try out sous vide cooking techniques. They involve vacuum sealing foodstuffs within a pouch and then cooking them slowly over lower-than-standard temperatures. The time it takes to properly prepare sous vide dishes can be several hours or even days. Busy individuals who don’t have time to babysit their victuals often turn to the Anova precision cooker or the Nomiku, both of which can be operated from afar through Wi-Fi connectivity. Either of them can be had for less than $200.
While it’s too early to say that the home of the future is already here, we’re certainly moving in the right direction. You can upgrade your living environment to take advantage of smarthome tech at a price that’s not exactly inexpensive but lies comfortably within the budget of most homeowners. There’s no need to rush out and buy the latest gadget right away because there’s enough on the market now that you can pick up a couple of desirable products whenever you feel like it.