Smart technology for your home and business is coming into its own, thanks to consumer-friendly price points and widespread WiFi connectivity to the Cloud. If you’re thinking of implementing some home automation technology, you’ll find the price point is now relatively accessible.
Here are 5 key brands to look for as you scour the web in search of the perfect smart home system.
Google’s Nest thermostat has quickly become a figurehead for the smart energy market, with its learning mode offering a no-hassle approach to programming. While competitors like Tado and Hive offer comprehensive smart features, Nest is the product that brings Apple-inspired design to the market, making the humble thermostat a relatively desirable object.
Nest isn’t just a maker of thermostats, though. It’s also developed smart smoke alarms and IP cameras that work together to monitor your home. The system lacks full geofencing and location detection, and there’s a monthly fee for proper camera functionality.
Philips’ second generation Hue light bulbs combine power-saving LED technology with improved colour reproduction, alongside the versatility of smartphone control. Hue bulbs are direct replacements for B27 or E22 bulbs, and connect to a hub that controls and manages their use.
The second generation is HomeKit compatible, so you can control the lighting with your voice using Siri via iOS. However, Philips has recently removed open ZigBee compatibility, so Hue can’t be used with cheaper third party bulbs.
Netatmo’s weather station promises better understanding about the environment in and around your home. Two mysterious metal tubes measure temperature, humidity, pressure, air quality and sound, and there are optional accessories to collect additional data. Rather than forecasting, it aims to present a holistic picture of local conditions, with historical data available via an app.
While rain alerts aren’t a feature many people need, the focus on good air quality will be of interest to anyone concerned about pollution. Like all of the other products we’ve mentioned, Netatmo runs a cloud service to collect, store and organise the data that you upload. Even better, it promises free access for life.
The SmartThings system is a collection of sensors that connect to a dedicated hub. They detect motion and moisture, and control power and lighting, using a smartphone to create schedules.
SmartThings uses the same Z-Wave technology that’s embedded into competing products, such as the Fibaro system. The app lacks finesse, but Samsung’s backing should hopefully drive some tweaks that will make SmartThings much more usable.
TrackR Bravo is a coin-sized tracking device that has its own Bluetooth transmitter and watch battery. It’s designed to track items like wallets, keys and phones, and it can also be used on the family cat or dog. An alert is sounded when the TrackR device leaves Bluetooth range, and can (theoretically) be tracked beyond this, using crowd sourced GPS signals.
The original TrackR was plagued with poor battery life, but the Bravo seems to have drastically improved on the concept. The jury’s still out on the concept of crowd GPS, particularly since TrackR relies on a large user base to make it viable.
So, as the popularity of smart technology grows – how likely is it to feature in your home and business?