After my article yesterday about the new “Internet of Things”-style light bulbs, I went to Lowe’s last night to check them out for myself. I have several lights that I’d like to replace with smart lights: the front porch, the hallway light (that we leave on when we go to bed because of a scared eight-year old), and the security light in the backyard. I bought $75 worth of lights, got home and told my wife, and she sent me back to the store to return it all. Her reasoning? Seventy-five dollars was just a little too much for three 60W bulbs, when they could easily be replaced by someone standing up and flipping a switch.
My dreams of turning off that hallway light from the comfort of my bed will have to wait until things get cheaper.
But my visit to the home improvement store opened up a Pandora’s box of smart devices. My birthday is in a few weeks, and here are some things I would love to see wrapped up and waiting for me.
Nest 3.0: This is a gorgeous little table decoration that also controls the thermostat. Now, smart thermostats are nothing new, but this takes things to completely new levels. Instead of merely jumping from pre-set to pre-set at the touch of a smartphone, the Nest 3.0 actively learns your habits. It knows when you’re sleeping and it knows when you’re awake. But it also knows when you leave the house and when it can expect you home again. And, just to make everything even cooler (or warmer), it uses this same technology to learn and predict when you’ll need your water heater.
Logi Circle: This is described as a “lifestyle camera,” which is not a thing I’ve ever imagined before. It is essentially a self-rotating, motion-detecting camera and microphone, which can be used simply as a security camera, or, more fun, as a device that becomes part of the party. Log in and see what people are doing in your living room, or let other people—maybe friends across the country—control the camera and talk to you and your guests. Its battery lasts up to twelve hours, and it films at 720p.
Neato Botvac D5: The Roomba has been around for so long that original versions could be sold at antique stores, but this automated vacuum has the added benefit of being connected to Alexa or Google Assistant. Tell the bot to plug in and recharge, and it plugs in and recharges. Tell it to clean up a spill in the kitchen, and it cleans it up. Tell it to head down the hall and vacuum up the sawdust under the ten-year old’s guinea pig cage, and that just what it will do.
TP-Link WiFi Smart Plug: It’s a smart plug, and we’ve always seen smart plugs before. But this, like the Botvac above, is so much better with Alexa hooked on. Yes, it will still just control the lamp or the stereo, but it will also tell you how much money your electric bill will be impacted by what you’re doing.
Lastly, the Withings Aura: It’s a smart sleep aide, which is probably not a thing you thought you needed. But this thing does everything. You lay its mat out under your mattress, and it will gather information about how much you’re tossing and turning in your sleep—and it will keep track of your heart beat. It also takes constant readings of room temperature and decibel count (though, admittedly, it doesn’t tell you what to do about those things, and it currently doesn’t sync with your smart thermostat to change the temperature, though I’m sure that will be coming soon. What it does do is give you a smart alarm, waking you slowly and naturally (yes, these kinds of alarms have existed for years—but this one can sense when you’re coming out of deep sleep, and create an waking pattern of sound and light that is customized to your immediate needs.)
There’s a lot more amazing smarthome tech coming out this year, and this just scratches the surface. Maybe my wife will let me buy some of this.