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Smart Home Trend Continues to Evolve in 2015

Connected smoke alarms, thermostats, lights and gadgets give homeowners more control

By Livability.com on January 1, 2015

Gadget gurus predict a proliferation of smart home devices in 2015. Major appliance makers and small startups have capitalized on smarter phones and tablets that open doors to better connections with everything from coffee makers and light bulbs to garage doors and thermostats. Better technology made more affordable and easier to install and use means you’ll likely see homes get smarter.

Thermostats That Learn

The most sought-after smart home devices are thermostats like Nest, Ecobee and Honeywell’s Lyrica, which learn how hot and cold you like your home, track energy consumption, and sense when you’re coming home and kick on the heat so when you open the door, everything is nice and cozy. Wi-Fi connections are a common feature on smart thermostats, allowing homeowners to monitor and change the temperature of their homes via a smartphone.

Mood Lighting

If you’ve ever wanted to control the lights in your house without leaving your bed, or even from work or your car, then 2015 is the year for you. Companies like LIFX, GE, Philips and Belkin have recently unveiled lighting systems that allow homeowners to not only turn lights off and on from a smartphone or tablet, but also adjust the brightness and color. The LIFX bulbs, which sell for a hefty $99 a bulb, can be controlled by a smartphone, enabling the user to control the color, brightness, and set up a time for them to turn off and on. There’s even a setting for the lights to become gradually brighter. The Philips Hue system starts at $200, and includes a bridge and network cable to link up to 50 bulbs along with three bulbs that display up to 16 million different colors including tones of white.

Who’s There?

Among the newest smart home devices to hit the market are security systems that allow homeowners to see who is knocking at their door and let them lock or unlock accordingly, all via a smartphone or tablet. The most promising of these systems are the Ring Video Doorbell and Nucleus. Ring lets you see who’s there through a Wi-Fi enabled camera that links to your device. Motion detection triggers the camera to turn on whenever someone or something (like a dog or cat) moves past, allowing you to see what’s happening on your porch or yard. It also features a speaker and microphone for two-way communication, so you can talk to the person who’s standing at your door.

Nucleus gives the intercom system an update. It allows anyone with a Nucleus device (picture a tablet mounted to the wall) to connect with others with the same device and network. Voice-activated controls allow users to make calls without touching the screen. The system uses Bluetooth to connect and control other smart home devices like lights, a thermostat and speakers. A mobile app lets users monitor rooms from their phones.

Upgraded Safety Measures

The Smart Alert Nightlight from Leeo is among the best new safety devices for the home. Using an app, the light’s color and brightness can be adjusted. It will also send you notifications when a smoke alarm is triggered or your home’s climate changes. The nightlight sells for $99.

Still in production is a smoke alarm battery that contains a Wi-Fi module that sends notifications to your smartphone when the battery is about to run out or the alarm is activated. Roost, the company behind the battery, which has five years of power, is taking orders via a Kickstarter campaign. The batteries start at $40 and are due to be shipped out this spring.

 

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