2016 is set to be the year of the intelligent home systems, when regular everyday household items get a ‘smart’ upgrade. Today we’re diving into ten normal household items, the sort of gear we all have but with a twist – a smart twist.
Smart fridges – Who’d have thought that you can upgrade your fridge to put it at the heart of an intelligent home system?
Samsung have emerged as one of the leading players in the home automation and smart home space. Whilst they have placed their TV sets at the heart of the smart home, they have also taken the approach that we could put a ‘hub’ in each room – and the kitchens hub becomes the smart fridge.
So what on earth does a smart fridge do? Well in the case of the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator, the answer it seems is quite a lot. No longer just a device intended to keep your food cool, the fridge can now do so much more. For a starter, it can help you organise your food and it can also provide entertainment.
This is done via its 21.5 inch LED screen, complete with full high definition. This is basically a 21st century upgrade the idea of magnets on the front of your fridge, making the screen a form of pin board. You can therefore leave notes (via your smartphone), post to social media and share other communications.
Whilst that’s all nice to have, its the actual food related features that stand out the most. The fridge uses three on board cameras to monitor what’s in it, and what is going to expire soon. The fridge also has apps, such as the Mastercard app, allowing users to order their groceries directly from the fridge. Clearly this system has a wide range of uses, but for me the most standout is with the elderly.
We’ve likely all been exposed to an elderly person with memory difficulties, and often case they can get bad at checking expiry dates and generally stocking the fridge. Expect more intelligent home systems to emerge around the fridge, bringing automated grocery ordering and smarter understanding of dietary habits.
For example, common diets like the Atkins diet or no carb leave dietary clues, and a lot of people are fairly regimented and consistent in the goods they order. This is how supermarkets online portals have gotten so good at making recommendations to you, so expect to see more of this being piped directly into the fridge as we see the smart revolution attacking our kitchens during 2016.
Intelligent home garage door systems –
2016 is the year that the humble garage door will get a makeover. For years now we have had electronic garage doors – you know the types, the ones which open when you press a button on a remote controller? Well know these same systems are getting an intelligent makeover.
Systems like the NT1103 tie together the operation of the garage door with lighting systems and other security. This will move to the point where opening the garage door can open based on proximity, as smart systems innately understand our location. So as we drive up to the door o onto the driveway, it will trigger the door to unlock and then open. The lights in the garage will turn on, meaning there’s no struggling to get to a light switch in the winter time or at night.
With Amazon and Ford already announcing a partnership via Samung’s SmartThings connectivity system, this will go further, with the car knowing your at home, and thus unlocking the house for you, even also allowing you to activate the heating and the lights inside.
Smart mirror – mirrors which overlay key stats, updates and other information as you’re getting ready in the morning
We first saw these magic mirrors demonstrated on mass at the Mobile World Congress show in March 2015 – and this is the year when they’re set to become more common in the smarthome.
Panasonic were busy showcasing a smart mirror at CES 2016, which even went so far as to help the user decide what makeup matched their outfit. Interactive mirrors will grow to become health and beauty advisors during 2016.
They will also give you weather updates, helping you decide what to wear, and the latest news, all whilst getting ready in the morning.
Smart wardrobes, helping to press and steam your clothes whilst they’re still hanging in the closet.
In our ever faster, ever more 24/7 lives, caring for our clothes is another thing that busy city folks have outsourced to cleaners and other ‘help’. However like so much of this, intelligent home systems are being developed by companies like LG, in order to help overcome the need for human helpers. Once such area is the wardrobe, or more pertinently, the overcoming of the need to constantly re-iron clothes which have been hung for a longer period of time.
So lets take the LG Styler, a smart wardrobe with features like the pants presser. This can steam and press dress pants, and even ‘shakes’ them out to remove any leftover creases.
It helps remove household – or general wear – smells from clothes, which in turn helps reduce the amount of washing you do. Most clothes that get washed aren’t actualy dirty, they simply need a ‘freshen up’. This smart wardrobe helps achieve that, whilst the clothes are being stored. This is a greener solution, saves money on washing costs and also extends the longevity of the clothes, as they have less exposure to detergents and the whole washing cycle (especially drying) which is so damaging.
Tado – a smart thermostat which cuts your bills by 26% on average
No discussion around intelligent home systems would be complete without discussing the value of the smart homes most popular category – smart thermostats. Why are these so popular? Quite simply because they deliver a myriad of genuine benefits.
Most homes are not heated intelligently. We use a whole raft of timers and other cookie cutter systems in order to keep to regimented heating plans. We overheat at times, we under heat at others, we spend too much money and we rarely actually get the house to the right temperature. Our lives simply are not rigid enough to require or work to such systems. Step up the smart thermostat, from companies like Tado, as well as the raft of bigger names like Nest, owned by Google.
Tado uses location based data through its companion smartphone app to understand when you’re at home. It then heats (or cools) your house to your pre-set temperature. When you’re out, it stops heating the home, thus saving significant energy bill money. Tado even let you rent their system, at £7.99 a month (£199 to buy), letting you try it at much lower risk.
Smart vacuum cleaner
Smart vacuum cleaners – much like smart lawn mowers, which use similar tech – have been on the market for some time now, but they;re quickly getting smarter.
Samsung are set to continue their big smart home push, with the launch of their new POWERbot Turbo Robotic Vacuum in Q-two, 2016. This goes beyond the original self-controlled concept, giving you the ability to direct it with your smart phone. It has a virtual mapping toolkit too, allowing it to map your home so that it can use machine learning to do a better job – a truly intelligent home system.
Finally, it also has the suction to match a more regular vacuum cleaner, which has been sorely lacking from generation one models. This tool will pack 10x more suction than the current market leader.
So there we have it – some truly intelligent home systems to give your house a smart upgrade for 2016.