An old trope of science fiction – robotic assistants – is certainly getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. While you can’t get your hands on an actual robot butler yet, more and more companies are fulfilling the same need for automation and convenience by offering “smart” appliances: homeware staples like ovens, fridges and even lightbulbs that can connect to the internet and offer extra functionality.
While this technology is still in its early days – and sometimes has an astronomical price tag to match – manufacturers are racing to make these products affordable to the mass market before their competitors. Here are just a few of the household appliances you could replace with their “smart” versions and the advantages that doing so could offer you.
Products such as Amazon Echo, with its voice-activated “assistant” Alexa, might be the closest product on the market at the moment to the helpful robots seen in futuristic movies. The Amazon Echo can not only play music from your phone or stream it over wifi but can also, on your command, access the news, tell you the weather or control other smart appliances in your home. Alexa is an AI that resembles Siri, who will apparently also have control of her own brand of smart speakers to rival Amazon’s sometime this year.
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You might think your lightbulbs are smart enough already but in less than a decade, people will likely wonder how they ever did without smart lighting. The Lifx Color 1000 allows you to use the wifi on your phone or another smart appliance to not only adjust the intensity of the light but also its color. Since studies show that unnatural light can contribute to sleeplessness, this could be a real boon for insomniacs around the world. The BeOn Starter Park, by contrast, offers an unprecedented security tool, staying on even when the power is out and also replicating your usual light patterns when you’re away to fool potential burglars.
Good cooking is an exact science and is about to get a lot easier now that human error can essentially be taken out of the mix. You can now buy not only smart cookers and smokers that precisely prepare your food, alerting you with an app when it’s ready, but also smart microwaves that can use camera technology to “see” what food you’ve put in it and set the correct amount of time without any input from you. Cameras are also utilised in smart fridges, such as the Samsung Family Hub, which allows you to remotely view the inside of your fridge while out shopping so you know what to buy and can also order you food directly online. As we read in the PromoPony feature piece on the Samsung Family Hub, it’s intended to work as a family organization center and features a number of helpful automation, tools and utilities to assist families not only in the kitchen but in the entire house.
Smart Alarm Clocks
For those among us who aren’t natural early risers, the period when we’re trying to wake up might be when we’re most in need of assistance from smart appliances. The Beddi smart alarm clock has been hailed “the Swiss Army Knife of alarm clocks” since, alongside waking you up and telling the time, it can cooperate with a smart thermostat, sync with your Spotify, read you the day’s weather forecast, track your commute, control your lights and even call you an Uber. All this means you could be up and out the door before you’ve even realized you’re awake.
This technology is new, but already quite impressive. These smart appliances belong to the “Internet of Things” and the sky’s the limit for what they’ll soon be able to help us within our daily lives.