The Smart Home concept is becoming increasingly mainstream as both affordable and splurge- worthy smart devices are made available to consumers. We’re covering some of the most popular smart home device categories.
If you’re looking for a smart device that can help you save money on household energy costs, look no further than the smart thermostat. According to ENERGY STAR, “The average consumer using an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat will save more than 8% of their heating and cooling energy, amounting to approximately $50 annually.” Most thermostats today are programmable, but smart thermostats can do so much more. With touchscreen displays and connection to Wi-Fi, you can change temperature settings remotely.
Image Source: HGTV
Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, and Sonos One are just a few of the popular internet enabled voice controlled home speakers capable of streaming audio content, relaying information, and communicating with other devices. These personal assistants are quickly becoming a household staple as homeowners become more accustomed to streamlining their lives with spoken commands. However, privacy concerns abound with smart speakers, causing many to wonder whether these devices ever stop listening.
Smart Kitchen Appliances
Kitchens are becoming smarter thanks to high-tech appliances like smart coffee makers, food scales, meat thermometers, microwaves, stoves, and refrigerators. Just take the GE Kitchen Hub for example, “The first-of-its-kind 27-inch integrated smart-touch screen and ventilation combo that fits easily above your range at the center of your home. The Kitchen Hub lets you manage your smart home from the busiest room in your house, thanks to U+Connect. Brew your coffee, adjust your lighting and check your calendar from one system.” In addition to its high tech capabilities including video chat, Google Assistant, and entertainment apps like Netflix and Hulu, the GE Kitchen Hub also serves as an exhaust vent for your range.
Touchscreen refrigerators have also become a smart choice for the kitchen, featuring interfaces that allow you to look up recipes, create grocery lists, and set expiration dates for food so you don’t forget. Some transparent touch screens even allow you to look inside the fridge without opening the door. We didn’t think opening a door was that much of an inconvenience but hey, if you have the technology – use it!
Image Source: GE Appliances
Smart Home Security Systems
Home security systems have improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. As more security companies move into the market, security system costs are becoming more affordable and control is being put in the hands of consumers with DIY installation and professional monitoring without monthly contracts. According to PC Mag, “A smart home security system connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can monitor and control your security devices using your smartphone and an app.” Smart security systems from ADT Pulse and SimpliSafe remain some of the most popular.
Many homeowners are also embracing the added security offered with video doorbells. Take it from this homeowner that video doorbells offer more than just theft protection. A landscaping company was scheduled to come remove a dead tree from my front yard while I was at work. When I received the Ring video doorbell motion detection notification I was horrified to see them taking out the wrong tree! My husband saw it from his app as well and used the 2-way talk feature to get their attention and stop them from destroying a healthy tree. I will never forget the look on the crew’s faces when the doorbell started talking to them. Thankfully I have the entire hysterical mishap saved on video!
Smart Devices the World is Not Ready for Yet
While the technological world is inventing new products at lighting speed, we have to wonder if the world just isn’t ready for some of these new inventions. Privacy and hacking concerns come into question with any smart device, but some seem outright dangerous to public safety. Some new smart devices beg the question, are we really ready for this?
Fans of the Roomba may be intrigued by robotic lawn mowers. Keeping up with mowing the lawn can be quite a chore, which is where these lawn mowers that utilize artificial intelligence come in. While robotic lawn mowers are programmed to avoid obstacles, make no mistake – this device is essentially blades on wheels. You can imagine why this inspires caution in us. In fact, robotic lawn mowers have been tied to injuries and deaths of many small animals. Basically, be careful when purchasing anything with automated blades.
As with any new technology, there is a balance of risk and reward. The risks and rewards of smart home technologies are complex and require a great deal of research. Before purchasing a new smart device, do your due diligence to ensure the device is as secure as it can be and the convenience and benefits outweigh the potential privacy risk.