Ourhomes are starting to get smarter thanks to all different kinds of tech seeping into everyday household items such as light bulbs, remote controls, and locks. Today Super Creative takes a look at some of the more impressive smart home devices ranging from entertainment benefits to whole home security. By the end of this roundup you might just discover a newfound interest in building your home around intelligent technologies!
A typical home today has what’s called a reactive layer of security. Say you leave for a week-long vacation and while you’re away a burglar attempts to access your home. Crack! The intruder breaks open the kitchen window and enters the dark or poorly lit room and collects countless valuables. Of course, all this time the alarm is blaring but the ski-masked criminal still has ample time to steal and flee. Enter BeON, a crowdfunded company that has invented a preventative layer of security aiming to deter criminals from even attempting an intrusion. BeON makes modular light bulbs that can be installed throughout your home and programmed to turn on and off at specified intervals when you know you’ll be away for an extended period of time. A smartphone companion app is used to tell the security bulbs exactly when to activate. In addition, the smart bulbs actually learn your daily lighting habits, so when you do go away they will follow the same on/off pattern you’d use as if you were there. You can also teach the bulbs to hear your doorbell so that when it sounds, the lights will flick on regardless of your location. It’s intuitive tech that will make snoopers think you’re home even if you’re not.
It’s more likely than not that you’ve heard of Phillips’ smart light bulbs that give its owners the ability to decorate their homes with remote controlled and highly customizable lights. With a smartphone app you can play around with a spectrum of 16 million colors and adjust brightness in real-time. You can create ambient presets so when you walk into a room at a certain time of day the Hue bulbs will illuminate to your liking. It’s clear–we’re living in the future, people.
But what I want to focus on here is a new way Phillips is putting their Hue brand to use. The lighting company is partnering with TV networks to implement coordinated light shows surrounding a program. Phillips and SyFy concocted apps to sync with Hue home setups to promote the debuts of Sharknado 2 and more recently 12 Monkeys. Open the companion app, set it to listening mode, and the Hue lights will react to the on-screen action based on specific audio cues. For example, when Tara Reid chainsaws a shark to bits and blood splatters across the screen, you may notice flashes of red emitting from your smart bulbs. It all makes for a more immersive viewing experience, or so says Phillips and SyFy. Regardless of how effective it really is, it’s certainly a fun experiment and an interesting collaboration to follow.
Logitech’s Harmony brand has been around for some time now. Harmony remotes and smart hubs bring together a variety of entertainment devices such as TVs, home theatre systems, and DVRs to work in, ahem, harmony. Logitech is looking to take this a step further with a new initiative that aims to bridge the gap between your entertainment hub and the rest of your smart home experience. The Harmony API was created, giving developers access to over 270,000 devices spanning entertainment-related ones like Apple TV and broader smart home ones such as Phillips’ Hue lights. By deploying this advanced and encompassing API, Logitech believes it can make communication between all your smart home devices more streamlined and intuitive than ever before. Here’s a prime example: Using a Harmony API-compatible remote, you can jump on the couch, turn on your Samsung TV, start a movie on Apple TV, and dim your Hue lights all with the tap of a single button. The API also supports gesture and voice-driven experiences which means you’ll be able to say something like “Watch a movie” and the above situation will unfold before your eyes.
Logitech announced the initiative earlier last month, and the company is already working with IFTTT, SmartThings, Ubi, Myo, ivee, and Playtabase to come up with ways to implement the API into products. So hopefully we’ll see this teaming of smart home devices in action later this year!
Wallet? Check. Phone? Check. Keys? Wouldn’t it be totally awesome if could carry around one less thing with you every day? There are a number of companies out there making smart locks for your home or apartment, but there’s one that stands out as supremely cool and it’s Kwikset. The company’s Kevo Bluetooth Electronic Lock is secure and simple: once bolted to your door, an encrypted connection is made wirelessly between the lock and your phone. As long as your phone is in close proximity to the lock (i.e. in your pocket or backpack), all you have to do when approaching your front door is touch the lock with your finger and presto! the door opens. Once it’s set up, you can transmit “eKeys” to your family and trusted friends enabling their smartphones to give them access to your home with just a touch. eKeys can be granted anytime access or you can schedule specific days and times they will function. A complementary companion app will notify you whenever someone enters or leaves your home, if you so choose. People without smartphones also have the option to carry around fobs that act the same way. Also, a major differentiator between this lock and other smart locks on the market is that this one comes with an old-school key slot just in case your phone or fob is acting up.
See Kevo’s smart lock in action on the right, and order online at Amazon.
Just when you thought you knew all the ways smart technologies could permeate your home, along comes–wait for it–a smart doorbell! Ring’s Video Doorbell lets you see and communicate with people approaching your front door. Over Wi-Fi you’ll receive an HD feed of who’s standing there on your smartphone and two-way talk enables conversation before entry. I know exactly how this would come in handy for me: when the UPS guy comes knocking and I’m not home to receive the package, I’d be able to instruct him to leave the package at the door. Additionally, this smart doorbell serves as a preventative layer of security just like BeON’s smart bulbs; even if you’re away from home you can be notified and accept rings when strangers press the bell. This’ll surely discourage intruders from trespassing since they’d think you’re home! And even if they choose not to ring the bell, built-in motion sensors can alert you to nearby movement. You can also store video recordings in the cloud for later access.
“See who’s there from anywhere” with this smart video doorbell. Their slogan has a nice ring to it, does it not?
We’re just about wrapped up here. Want to see more? Last week Kevin introduced a new segment on The Attack aptly named Techamendations. In it he reviewed SkyBell, another innovative smart doorbell worth checking out! Stay tuned to The Attack for more weekly doses of tech reviews, hilarious shenanigans, and so much more.