We're all familiar with smart security cameras, thermostats, lighting and speakers. But there are so many other ways that you can make your home "smart," and many rooms you can place smart devices in.
From small (and large) appliances, to garage doors, sprinkler systems, doorbells, and even items like your toothbrush and hairbrush, the possibilities are endless.
Here are 6 rooms of the home you can easily smarten up with some affordable tech, and some product examples for each.
If you've ever hosted a party or gathering at your home, you'll note that, regardless of how small your kitchen might be, it always seems to be the place where people like to gather and chat. It's more than just a space to cook, bake, and make coffee in the morning - it's a key area of your home. At the simplest level, to make your kitchen "smarter," you can get an app-controlled small appliance, like a coffee maker from Mr. Coffee that's equipped with Belkin WeMo technology, or even a smart toaster, like Griffin's Connected Toaster.
Mr. Coffee WeMo-enabled smart coffee maker
Or, get even more high-tech by setting up a device like the Sony Xperia Touch portable projector on the counter. It isn't a kitchen device, per se. But the kitchen makes a perfect place to set one up, then display a recipe or instructional video on the surface to follow as you cook or bake. Scroll through the list of ingredients, or control video playback with your fingers or voice, without having to dirty your device's screen.
Sony Xperia Touch portable projector
The Bedroom/Living Room
These are arguably the most obvious rooms in which to make smart through everything from voice-controlled hubs like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, to smart, wireless speakers from companies like Sonos. But don't forget other devices, like smart thermostats, smoke alarms, and security cameras. Nest is a top choice in this department, but there are a number of companies that offer really sleek-looking cameras that will fit perfectly on a bookshelf or TV stand in the living room or bedroom, like Piper and Canary.
Piper security camera
In terms of entertainment, you can essentially make any TV a "smart" one, able to play back streaming content seamlessly, by using one of a number of devices, from the Google Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick, to the Apple TV.
A basement might not seem like the ideal place to make "smart," but for some, it serves as home to a theatre room, child's playroom, or laundry area. With the latter, smart washing machines and dryers have been available for years from brands like Samsung and LG. Wi-Fi security cameras are ideal for the basement, to keep an eye on a little one in a playroom, for example. Using a smart system that works with things like door and window sensors is a great idea - often times, burglars will attempt to enter a home using a basement window. You can get these with a number of smart systems, including Belkin WeMo, D-Link's Connected Home line, and Ooma Home Monitoring. Many third-party brands also work with systems like Apple's HomeKit, Control4, or others.
You can also get devices like water leak sensors, available from companies like D-Link, that are perfect for placing by a source of water in the basement that could lead to a leak. The sensor has a long wire that will send an alert to your phone should it get wet, advising that it has come in contact with water to help you prevent flooding or water damage.
D-Link water sensor
The Garage/Outside of the House
Aside from garage door sensors, the outside of your home is just screaming for smart tech. An outdoor security camera is the obvious option, allowing you to keep an eye on your front door from your smartphone, no matter where you are, but also consider options like a video doorbell. This will capture an image of the person at the door that you can see from your phone before heading downstairs to answer it, or unlocking it. The device that's taking the industry by storm is the Ring video doorbell, which features an HD camera with night vision, providing a clear view from an entrance, day and night.
Ring video doorbell
Additionally, app- controlled lighting is available from a number of companies, and at affordable price points. If nothing else, automate your outdoor lights such that you can turn them on and off remotely from your phone, giving the illusion that you're home when you might be away on vacation, for example.
The Baby/Child Room
Connected tech and the baby's room actually go hand-in-hand. From Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitors and cameras, to wearable devices that can alert you if a baby has rolled over, and touchless thermometers, there are tons of options. One cute and recently-announced one is the Dozer by SleepPhones, a cuddly sheep sleep monitor that also works as a Bluetooth speaker to which you can stream soothing sounds or songs to help lull your baby to sleep.
[SleepPhones Dozer Bluetooth speaker/stuffed animal toy. Photo by David Susilo]
If you wish to go all out and take your level of smart tech to the bathroom as well, there are plenty of devices that you can "automate." Companies like Philips and Oral-B offer electric toothbrushes that can send data about your brushing you a companion app to help you improve. Withings and Keratase make a smart hairbrush with similar capabilities, tracking your brushing habits and health hair.
Or, use a smart wireless speaker in the bathroom for music, or go a step further with a neat smart mirror that can either display a video feed in the corner, or play back audio via a built-in Bluetooth speaker. The Viio Vero, for example, is a 30" round vanity mirror that provides reflection and LED light, as well as music playback through stereo Bluetooth connectivity. And MirrorVue is one of many companies that make video mirrors for both commercial and residential spaces.
Viio Vero smart mirror
If you're reluctant to shift to a fully smart home (or, let's face it, don't quite have the budget to outfit your entire home just yet), consider breaking things down to these categories and/or rooms. Choose the platform you want to be able to support down the line, whether it be a system from a brand like Control4, or something simple like Apple's HomeKit, and start one room at a time with compatible devices. Before you know it, you'll be ready to grab the system to tie it all together, and your home will be getting an A+ from friends and family.