Internet of Things gadgets to make your home smarter
Switchmate is an interesting IoT device. It is designed to cover your existing, boring white light panels, and simply by clicking them on top, allows you to change your existing lighting into a taste of smart lighting without investing in the concept fully.
You install the device, download the accompanying app, and then control your lighting through the software -- which also includes a schedule setting, useful if you are heading on vacation.
Less practical and more fun, the Nanoleaf Aurora is a smart lighting setup made of geometric patterns to put on your walls. Using the accompanying app, the IoT lights can be tailored to themes, different colors for different panels, and can also now be synchronized to music.
Amazon Echo second generation
The Amazon Echo is a home speaker which has the Alexa voice-activated assistant. Through Alexa, you can order items, set times, listen to the news and music, and enable a wide range of other applications by downloading additional "skills." The latest generation comes with improved sound in a range of colors and styles.
Price: £89.99 | $99.99
The Amazon Dash isn't for everyone, but if you run a busy household, this tiny smart button could help make daily chores and shopping easier. Especially useful if you are a Prime member as a way to eradicate delivery costs, the button comes in a number of flavors depending on the product. If you realize you have run out of a household item, you click the button and Amazon will automatically reorder it for you. Some of the products available in button form are for batteries, washing powder, beer, and coffee pods, among many others.
Price: £4.99 | $4.99
August Smart Lock
The August smart lock replaces your existing, key-based door locks with another system. While not for everyone, users can share access to their property through an accompanying app and the door will unlock and lock automatically once you venture forward with a linked smartphone. However, the lock can also be added to an existing deadbolt and so traditional key access can still be used.
Price: £210 | $279
The Ring 2 doorbell is a Wi-fi connected device which enables users to connect their doorbell to their smartphone or tablet. Equipped with a 1080 HD camera and speaker, homeowners can see who is at their door, record footage if necessary, and communicate with them in real-time. The doorbell also uses sensors to alert owners immediately if any motion is detected.
Price: £179 | $199
Philips Hue smart lighting
Philips Hue is a smart lighting range for the home. Controllable via smartphone, Hue lighting comes in a range of designs and can be dimmed, set by color or mood, and has a good range of effects for ambience. The Hue can also be voice-controlled through assistants such as Alexa.
The Canary home security system is a modern, sleek security camera which connects up to your mobile devices via Wi-Fi. The IoT device is useful if you are concerned about being burgled or would like the chance to check-in while you are away from home. The camera footage is of good quality and a very interesting feature is the ability to set off an extremely loud alarm remotely should uninvited guests infiltrate your home.
Price: £139 | $149
Google Home is an alternative to Amazon Alexa and can be used for similar purposes. The smart speaker, summoned by "Okay, Google," can be used to answer questions, check the news and weather, listen to music, pull up your calendar, control your smart devices and access services including Netflix.
There is a rumor, however, that Google is soon bringing a premium version to the line called Max.
Price: £129 | $130
For something smart in the kitchen, and somewhat of a treat -- considering the price tag -- Mellow is a sous vide machine which stays at refrigerated temperature until you schedule the machine to start through an accompanying app, ensuring the slow-cook process is complete when you are back from work.
The ecobee4 smart thermostat, compatible with Amazon Echo, is a temperature monitoring system which also uses sensors to help you manage cold and warm spots in your home. Together with an accompanying app, the device can be used to change the temperature, set a schedule, and also acts as an extension of Alexa and the skills she can use.
Belkin WeMo switch
The Belkin WeMo smart switch is a useful IoT gadget which, when added to power outlets, can be used to remotely control existing appliances through the device's mobile app. You can remotely turn devices on and off, set schedules, and set up a full network of controlled appliances.
Price: £39.99 | $39.99
The Nest Protect 2nd generation smoke and carbon monoxide alarm does what it says on the tin. The alarm, available in both battery and wired variants, connects up to an accompanying app to alert you remotely when something's wrong -- and there is no need for a tea towel to quiet it down when there's a false alarm, either, due to a silencing feature available on your smartphone or tablet.
Price: £99 | $119