Home technology is advancing rapidly. Lights don’t have to be left on all day, washing machine cycles can be measured and plug sockets don’t need to waste energy. What’s more, most of these appliances can be controlled remotely, from the touch of your smartphone.
So if you’re always on the move, or you just want to make life at home a tad easier, our top smart home gift ideas will bring your home into the 21st century.
Apple TV: Homekit
To use Homekit you’ll need an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Then you can get cracking with the Homekit-enabled accessories such as lights, locks, thermostats and smart plugs.
You follow the Apple rules and talk to Siri through your mobile. Tell it to ‘turn off the lights in Mike’s room’, ‘turn on the coffee maker’, or ‘set the temperature to 25°C’.
You can give Siri commands when you’re away from home too, as long as you have an Apple TV (3rd generation or later). It’s simply a case of signing in to iCloud with the same Apple ID on your iOS device and Apple TV.
If this sounds up your street, also have a look at Works with Nest, a non-Apple alternative.
Make your home feel modern in a flash with Philips Hue lightbulbs. The smart bulbs connect to a bridge and then to your wireless network, so you can turn them on and off, change the colours and set timers, all from an app on your smart phone. The Friends of Hue range has other handy accessories, like alarm clocks and light strips, and enables you to link up with Apple Homekit and Works with Nest.
Don’t you find the doorbell always rings at the most irritating times; like, when you’ve just stepped out the shower, or when you’ve finally sat down for dinner?
SkyBell has a video camera, motion sensor, microphone and a speaker that allows you to see, hear and speak to your visitor from an iOS or Android mobile device as soon as they press your doorbell – whether you’re in the house, or sunning yourself on a beach somewhere.
Nest Learning Thermostat
You might’ve heard of Nest – they’re a pretty big deal when it comes to smart home products.
Take the Nest Learning Thermostat, a seriously cool piece of kit that can save you heaps of energy. The thermostat turns the temperature of your house down when nobody’s home, it learns the temperatures you like and programs itself, and if it spots you across the room, it lights up to show the temperature.
You can also connect your thermostat to your wifi, to control your house temperatures from your phone. No more getting into a chilly house mid-January.
Another Nest product worth mentioning is the Nest Protect.
The smoke and carbon monoxide sensor sends alerts to your smartphone if the batteries are running low, and if there is a fire it identifies where the smoke is coming from. The hush function on the Nest app means you can silence a false alarm from your phone – perfect if your dinner party recipe isn’t going quite to plan.
First Alert WiFi Safe
We all have things we don’t want other people getting their mitts on; sentimental jewellery, private documents or items you want kept away from children.
First Alert's WiFi Safe is wifi and Bluetooth enabled, so you can lock and unlock it with your smartphone. You can grant access to other members of your family, and monitor their activity remotely. The safe is also fire and waterproof, giving you extra peace of mind.
Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker
If you think a slow-cooker makes life easier, you’ve got to try the Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker. Throwing in all the veg, stock and meat before work, and then leaving it until dinnertime, is so 2015.
Crock-Pot has partnered with WeMo, who’ve developed an app that allows you to adjust the slow-cooker settings on your smartphone from anywhere; work, the train, the gym...
You can monitor remaining cooking time, change your cooking temperatures, adjust cooking times, shift to the warm setting and turn off the device altogether.
WeMo Insight Switch
Ever put a load in the washing machine before work, and then wish you could turn it off once the cycle’s finished? Have you ever left the house and panicked that you’ve left your hair straighteners on? Or have you ever left your phone on charge, and then wanted to turn off the power once it’s hit full battery?
If this sounds like you, then getting a few WeMo Insight Switches might be a great investment. You can connect all your electronic and home devices to your wifi network, and monitor them from your smartphone or tablet. You can turn heaters, TVs, washers, dryers, fans and lights on and off from anywhere and everywhere.