“Smart” Products Continue To Advance and Amaze

For the tech savvy homeowner, times couldn’t be better. The advent of “smart” technology   — a loosely applied moniker referring to a device’s ability to independently recognize, analyze and react to changing conditions — has brought an explosion of home products designed to streamline your life in startling new ways. Whether you desire more ways to save energy, or the perfect gift for your gadget guru, consider the following “smart” devices for the latest in home tech!

Energy Savings

• Smart Thermostats   This CNET article discusses the latest generation of thermostats. These connect to your home Wi-Fi so you can monitor and control your heating and cooling from a phone app. Intelligent “switches” can recognize when you enter within a given radius of your home, and kick the heat up just in time for your arrival. When you leave, they drop it back down to your preferred “Away” temperature. Sounds like a win-win on efficiency and comfort!

• Smart Outlets   Plug the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch into an outlet, then plug any appliance into the switch. You now have the awesome ability to control that appliance from your smartphone — from anywhere in the world! The device connects to your home Wi-Fi, and you can control one, or an army, of these devices throughout your home using a free phone app. These are great for room lighting, space heaters, fans, wall A/C units and TV’s. They also offer reports on energy usage, allow you set schedules for energizing those outlets. The system can even send text alerts when an appliance is left on.

If you like your smart outlets just a touch more….uh….dumb? Try Belkin’s Conserve Switch, a power strip with a hand-held remote shut-off for your TV/entertainment system or computer and peripherals. This product shuts down all devices at once, including costly ‘standby’ power used by many of todays appliances. No smartphone stuff here, just smart for your electric bill.

Safety Tech

• Smart Locks   These Kwikset entry door locks use Bluetooth technology to turn your Android or iPhone into your house key. They also allow you to send electronic “keys” to friends, pet-sitters, cleaners, contractors or anyone with a smartphone. You can then deactivate the keys anytime. Another high-tech door lock option uses your fingerprint in lieu of that clunky old key!

• Smart Garage Door Openers   LiftMaster’s MyQ system allows you to open or close your garage door from anywhere, with your smartphone. You can even receive text alerts if you leave your door open, or any time your garage door opens or closes. These work with most existing garage door opener systems, and can control home lighting as well.

• Smart Smoke and CO Alarms  Google’s Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm is a Wi-Fi enabled device you might imagine as the Swiss pocket knife of alarms. In addition to its combined function as a traditional smoke alarm and CO alarm, the Nest Protect introduces text alerts when an alarm sounds or when batteries are low. It can sense motion to serve as a night light when you need a drink of water at night, and includes a ‘warning’ function when only a little smoke is present. This feature allows you to silence the alarm when the only thing burning is your toast. When used in combination with the Nest thermostat, it can shut down your heating system if it detects carbon monoxide in the house. This looks like an amazing product and a truly creative improvement on an old standby.

Lastly, our personal favorite at Martin & Calloway….

Smarter BBQ!

• Smart Grill Thermometer   The iGrill is a meat thermometer that sends temperature info and alerts to your iPhone, iPad or iPod via Bluetooth. This handy device allows you to leave the lid down on your grill, speeding cooking time. This means would-be pit masters may remain in the air conditioned comfort of their homes instead of hovering over a hot grill. Now that’s cool! It has a magnetic base and plug-in probe, and color-coded LED lighting for at-a-glance temperature monitoring.