Home automation has made leaps and bounds of progress over the past couple years and continues to be one of the most popular, exciting types of consumer technology on the market.
What began more as a kind of novelty has grown to become the Internet of Things (IoT), allowing disparate technologies to work together to streamline your home’s energy efficiency, convenience, and definitely giving your humble abode that James Bond-esque cool factor.
As home automation tech has become more innovative and powerful, we are seeing an ever-greater selection of smart gadgetry from which we can choose so we can turn our homes into smart homes. If you’re wondering which devices you should have in your home, here are five of the coolest must-have home automation devices that people are excited about.
Quirky Aros Smart Air Conditioner
The Aros is a joint venture between GE and Quirky — responsible for the well-known and acclaimed Wink automation system — and is an 8,000 BTU update to the classic window-mounted air conditioning unit used around the world. Via the Wink app, you set a desired temperature and the times when your home should be that temperature.
Additionally, since Aros can access your phone’s GPS via the Wink app to see when you leave or are returning home, it learns when to turn on and off automatically as it detects your daily habits. Available for $249 from most retailers, the Quirky Aros is an essential for the summer season when you’ll want to keep your home to be nice and cool. It also looks pretty sleek, not an eyesore like most other units.
Kwikset Kevo Smart Door Lock
It’s hard to decide which is the greatest perk of the Kwikset Kevo smart lock: The unparalleled safety, the convenience, or the fact that it’s just plain cool. As one the of highest-rated smart locks, the Kevo gives you three secure ways to lock and unlock your front door: With the traditional key, a digital key fob, and with an electronic key, or eKey.
Using the accompanying Android or iOS app, you can use your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone as an eKey and even setup the Kevo to detect the eKey on your phone as you approach so that your door unlocks for you automatically. Additionally, you can assign other residents of your home permanent eKeys and temporary eKeys to guests and visitors.
Available for $219, the only drawback is that Kevo requires your phone to have the newest version of Bluetooth (4.0) in order use the eKey feature.
Nest Learning Thermostat
The celebrity of the home automation world right now is unquestionable the Nest Learning Thermostat. Developed by ex-Apple employees to look and function similar to the iPod, the Nest is like a hockey puck-sized dial with a color display that replaces your outdated, non-smart thermostat with one that learns your daily habits and schedule.
The Nest detects when you’re home, when you leave, and learns each time you adjust the temperature; the result is a thermostat that ensures perfect comfort anytime you’re at home, but automatically turns itself down to save you money when you’re not. And that’s really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in terms of what the Nest is capable of doing.
At $249, the Nest — now owned by Google — is one of the most feature-rich, intelligent smart thermostats available, but it’s also one of the most expensive options on the market.
However, reviewers who have personally tested the Nest (and who usually end up keeping it in their homes afterward) say the Nest can pay for itself in as little as a year with the amount of money it will save you on your utility bill. Nest is also compatible with other home automation tech such as the Wink system, which makes it even more appealing to those planning to outfit their home with all the automation fixin’s.
Wink Relay Automation Platform
Another superstar on the automation scene, the Wink Relay is a 4.3-inch wall-mounted touchscreen, similar to a small tablet or a smartphone that replaces a light switch.
The Relay gives you a designated place to access the Wink system, which is a central, dedicated platform for controlling all of your home’s smart tech such as your connected lights, outlet switches, security cameras, smart locks, appliances, smart thermostats, and so on.
In short, it allows you to consolidate your home automation tech so that you can control you home in much the same way as the conductor of an orchestra.
The price of this gadget is $300 from most retailers and requires the Wink Hub, which is $50. Although the Wink Relay is used to control the Wink platform, you’re still able to use the Wink app on your smartphone to access the platform and the same controls.
The Wink Relay has great functionality and even greater potential as the platform receives software updates over time, such as the two-way intercom functionality it’s reported to be getting with an upcoming update.
Archos Smart Home Kit
Though it’s been considered a low-end brand, Archos has developed a convenient kit with all the basic components, or “objects” as Archos is calling them, that you need to make your home smart. The Archos Smart Home Starter Kit includes two mini cams, two motion balls, a weather tag, a movement tag, a smart plug, and the smart home tablet.
The tablet, which serves as the “gateway” to interface with the platform, is a portable control hub for all the devices that you can also use like any other Android tablet, but unlike other units that are fixed to one location, the Archos Smart Home Tablet can move through the home with you like a portable remote control.
At launch, the Archos system was closed and incompatible with other products made by third-party companies. However, Archos is in the process of releasing an update to the Archos Smart Home platform that will not only make it compatible with third-party tech, but will also make it compatible with the popular app IFTTT.
The Archos Smart Home Starter Kit is costs between $250 from a limited number of retailers, but will likely be more widely available when it becomes compatible with other popular automation components.
For more home automation ideas and information, head to Modernize.com.