Each day we bring to you fascinating new designs, inspiring homes and innovative ideas from the world of architecture and interior design. Yet, there are a few fleeting moments when we all ponder not just the current trends and fashionable ideas, but also what the future holds for all of us design aficionados. The idea of a home that is capable of interacting with its owners just like a fully-aware individual has been a concept that many have fantasized about since the late ’60s and early ’70s. It seems like this dream is quickly becoming a reality, and the CES 2014 provided us with the perfect window into the future of these intelligent and intuitive smart homes.
What many people forget is that a truly smart home is all about making your life a lot more convenient and a lot less complicated. Instead of having to multitask and rush between a multitude of electronic devices, these amazing innovations give you an integrated hub that coordinates between the many gadgets spread across your house.
From cool security and connectivity gadgets to awesome entertainment devices, here is a sneak peek into the technology that will shape the home of tomorrow…
SmartThings: Ultimate Connected Home
One of the real showstoppers at CES 2014, SmartThings is all about bringing the future to your doorstep today. This smart home technology allows you to pretty much amalgamate every little detail of your house and control them with a single hub and a stylish app. SmartThings has also launched a new category for its mobile apps called ‘Labs’, which allows home users to try out new, third-party devices whenever they are available.
Using a bundle of smart sensors, the technology offers you complete access and control over every device in the house. From a robot in the kitchen that can serve up your favorite drinks to lighting and security sensors, you can customize SmartThings to suit your exact needs and budget.
SkyBell: Wi-Fi Doorbell
If your caller id gave you the comfort of being able to screen phone calls, then we are taking that a step higher with the SkyBell. This innovative doorbell allows you to not only view a live video feed of anyone who rings the bell, but also allows you to communicate with them instantly. Weather resistant and easy to set up, it replaces your existing doorbell with ease. Equipped with a motion sensor and night vision, you will never have to worry about who might turn up at your doorstep next!
Samsung’s Smart Home
A look at the Samsung’s Smart Home presentation at CES 2014 should give you a fair idea of what the future holds for tech-savvy homes. In an effort to bring together several different household appliances under one control app, the Samsung demoed its cool Smart Home. Described as a trendy New York City apartment, the interior featured a robotic vacuum cleaner, refrigerator, washing machine, air conditioner, smart TV, and a mounted camera. All of these items an be controlled using a single app, along with the company’s Galaxy Gear.
While this technology from Samsung needs plenty of fine tuning, it gives consumers an option of picking up a smart home system from a trusted and familiar brand. Samsung aims to go commercial with the app in the first half of 2014. Let us wait for the polished, finished product before we make the final call on this one.
This news might not have hit the front pages of interior design and architecture magazines across the world. But it should have. Google has just purchased Nest, a company that specializes in making stylish and smart thermostats and smoke alarms. The astonishing part of the news is that Google shelled out a good $3.2 billion in cash to buy this firm! While some question the sanity of the decision, many see the virtue in the purchase. Google sees the very real possibility of taking over a smart home market and integrating every device in the home with its unique solutions. In essence, we are seeing the first step toward a Google Home of tomorrow.
However, Nest offers devices that you can bring home today, such as its Learning Thermostat, which programs itself to suit your lifestyle and can be controlled from your phone. Not to mention, Nest Protect that makes conventional smoke alarms look like extinct dinosaurs! Nest Protect warns you about low carbon monoxide levels, first in human voice before going full throttle. You can wave away any false alarms with ease, without having to fetch the ladder from the attic…
A Connected Home with Staples
Here is another hub showcased at CES 2014 that allows you to control all the devices of your house with a single, convenient app. Apart from giving you some basic security features Staples is all about integrating all the existing smart gadgets of your home without opting for a complete revamp. The Staples Connect hub only sets you back a mere $99, and it allows you to turn up the heating or cooling systems, control lighting and other basic features of your home in a remote fashion. A perfect budget addition for the future home shopper!
Canary: Web-Integrated Home Security
All of us must have watched one of those poorly made sci-fi Hollywood flicks where a very congenial and obedient robot starts out as help around the house. Then it learns intuitively and finally goes bonkers and starts taking over… Canary is pretty much the same; except for the scary ending and the theatrics! This compact cylindrical tube comes with an HD camera with a wide-angle lens and night vision, a 3-axis accelerometer, a microphone, temperature and humidity sensors, LED lights, speakers, a siren, a motion detector, and pretty much everything except the kitchen sink.
We call Canary ‘intuitive’ because it learns what the normal living conditions are as it spends more time in your house and adapts accordingly. Available in black, silver and classic white for $199, it is the perfect way to add cutting-edge security to your home without breaking the bank.
Gen-Next Smart Windows from View
A smart home is not just about security, energy management and connectivity alone. Windows play an equally important role in shaping the form of your house. More significantly, they are vital when it comes to ventilation and insulation properties of any structure. With winter in full swing, many of our readers might have already realized this essential fact. Well, View is a company that is currently rolling out next-generation smart windows that might well become the norm in the next few years! View makes versatile electrochromic windows that have a dynamic tinting property which can be controlled using an iPhone.
By using low-voltage electrical current, these futuristic windows can change their shade and hue in varying degrees so as to maintain a constant indoor temperature. Doing away with the need for blinds and shades, these lovely windows are already in use across some of the biggest hospitals and commercial shopping structures across the US. Cutting the costs of heating and cooling needs by a good 20-25 percent, they seem to blend aesthetics and ergonomics beautifully…
Ambient Devices’ Energy Joule
The Energy Joule from Ambient Devices is for those who would like to keep tabs on the changing energy prices during various hours of the day. Typically, many countries use an energy billing model in which the power consumed in peak hours is charged a lot more than normal, while the-off peak hours provide energy at a cheaper price point. Energy Joule has a digital screen that taps into each device of your house and instantly offers you the energy statistics and the corresponding power rates. Designed for those who do not have time for tons of data, the device simply glows red, yellow or green, depending on whether the energy prices are high, normal or low.
ZigBee-enabled, it can provide you with the necessary stats even without an internet connection and also allows you to walk around the house testing the power consumption of every gadget individually. Simple, efficient and uncluttered, it makes energy saving a fun affair!
Sony’s 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector
What is a home without the right entertainment options that open up a fabulous window into a world or unending possibilities? Revamping the future of ultra-high definition TV is the new 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector from Sony. Another gorgeous gadget that was unveiled at CES 2014, the new projector truly takes your breath away as it elegantly stands in a room like a cool, minimalist decor addition. Coming in at 43.3″ x 10.4″ x 21.1″, the projector also features its own integrated speakers and 4 HDMI ports, and it can beam an image on a screen size that ranges from 66 inches to 147 inches.
Perfect for those who wish to instantly turn their lounge into a fabulous home theater and then back into a cool hangout with the simple push of a button, this amazing unit also comes with cabinets for your pS4 or home theater unit. Set to hit the stores in the US this summer, it will set you back by a good $30,000 -$40,000!
Simple and Beautiful Revolv Hub
The Revolv Hub is all about integrating the many smart devices that you have in your home already and ensuring that each one of them communicates not only with you, but also with one another. The ergonomic little hub can automatically connect with your home’s Wi-Fi when plugged in and uses 10 different wireless languages to ensure that your tech-savvy home is truly integrated and connected! Using the latest in GeoSense technology, the hub allows you to control your home automatically, depending on how close you are to it.
So, the next time you get back home, you need not step into a cold, dark and lifeless house. Revolv would have already turned the heat up, switched on the lights and even gotten your favorite TV show lined up, ready for your viewing pleasure… Truly a home of the future that is already here!
Are you ready to embrace the smart home of the future? Which cool features would you love to take home the most?