Headlines like to shout a lot about the “Internet of Things,” but this simply refers to everyday devices that are using wireless Internet technology for greater customization and easier control. This essentially makes them “Smart Devices.” The Internet of Things has become a very interesting place, with plenty of new products offering more innovations and updated systems.
5 Smart Devices You Should Consider
If you are ready to start equipping your house with the latest and greatest smart devices, here are a few of the notable ways to get started.
1. Light Switches
Because light switches are relatively simple when it comes to wiring, some of the most simple “Internet of Things” devices are wireless light controls.
Products like Belkin’s WeMo light switches are installed in place of traditional light switches. They can still be turned on and off in the traditional manner, but the new switch also contains a transmitter that connects to a traditional wireless network. Pull out your phone, access the right app, and you can turn a light on or off no matter where you are. This is particularly useful for outdoor lights or porch lights. Most apps come with timing options so that you can set them to turn on or off at a particular time each day, which can help save money (or even deter burglars).
The only downside to be aware of with these smart devices is that you need to replace the light switch panel itself when installing them. Not only does this require a bit of electrical work, but you usually do not have a choice in panel color, so finding a smart switch that matches your old panels may be difficult if they are an unusual color. Prices range, but are around $50 per new switch.
2. Smart Bulbs
One of the newest entries on the list, smart bulbs like those LG has now unveiled take lighting one step further and combine energy efficiency with targeted smart lighting. The LG Lamp uses an extra-efficient LED light bulb connected to computer chips that can be operated through a wireless network, but instead of turning an existing light on or off, it offers a number of extra benefits.
You can set the light to flash on when you get a phone call – or sync it to your alarm clock time so the light and the alarm turn on at the same time. For the more fanciful, there is even an option that shifts the light based on the type of music that is playing in the room. The price is also a significantly more affordable $30. Philips also offers a smart lighting system in the same vein.
3. Garage Door Apps
Garage doors are pretty simple. You open them, you close them, you hope your battery doesn’t run out. Apps like Garageio seek to improve the overall user experience. They tap into your garage door opener hub, and let you control it with an Apple or Android phone. There are a few great benefits inherent in this package.
The app comes with a status feature that tells you at any time if your garage door is opened or closed, ending those little moments of anxiety. Since the app works through a wireless Internet connection, if both you and your house network are live, you can also open or shut your garage door from anywhere.
What’s not to love? Well, the price tag for this kind of device, which can run around $150, may be a little steep.
4. Bluetooth Deadbolts
Smart locks have been around for a couple of years now, but the newest versions are especially promising. These smart devices typically run on a more secure Bluetooth connection instead of the traditional wireless Internet, but you can still use your phone or a handy little keychain-ready device to operate it.
This makes locking and unlocking your door a snap, adding extra security but without any extra hassle. Prices for these types of deadbolts are also high, around $200, so this is a better investment if you don’t have any deadlocks at all, but want one for added security.
Some versions, like the crowdfunded Lockitron, are even designed to fit over your old lock.
5. Learning Thermostats
Smart thermostats are also fairly common, offering you the ability to control and set your thermostat through an app. But this approach has been updated to include even more intelligent features.
Take Nest, the learning thermostat, which is pictured at the top of this page. It uses a combination of questionnaires, usage history, and sensors to learn your habits and build a heating/cooling pattern around your life to help you save as much money as possible.
Of course, you can also control things directly with the app, but the end goal is to let the thermostat do the hard work and reap the rewards.
Hopefully, these five smart devices will make your lives a little easier, as the world becomes increasingly more complicated.