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What Makes Your Home Smart

Sujatha Bhaskara

Sujatha Bhaskara has built her business based on personal care, a professional approach, and delivering positive results...

Sujatha Bhaskara has built her business based on personal care, a professional approach, and delivering positive results...

May 10 7 minutes read

As time goes by, the age of technology becomes more apparent. Smart devices are being created almost every month. These smart devices are a good fit for tech savvy people or people on-the-go.  Some also use these devices to keep up with the times.

There are many different smart devices that can be implemented at home ranging from security locks to Wi-Fi routers to lighting and appliances. Some devices can even be linked to your smart phones for added security measures when the house is empty. It also helps in taking care of pets when you are not around. Although there's nothing wrong with living simply, these devices can be a big help in our everyday life. 

According to a report in 2016, the number of smart homes reached 169 million and installations are projected to grow at an annual rate of 30 percent over the next few years. With such rapid growth in recent years, it can be a challenge to keep up the home automation industry, let alone explain its myriad pros and cons.

Check out the devices you might need or want to have in your homes. 

1. Smart Lock

Smart locks are a fickle category. Because they're securing your front door, you want something durable and reliable that will actually make your life easier. But that hasn't always been the experience during testing. Some models are hard to install, others have confusing apps or hit-or-miss performance. However, the next-gen August Smart Lock has none of those shortcomings. It looks good, it's reliable, the app is easy to use and this version works with Nest, Logitech Harmony, Comcast's Xfinity Home and Siri. So even if you aren't an iPhone user, I would still strongly recommend August's Editors' Choice award-winning HomeKit-enabled Smart Lock.

Overall, the Smart Lock's aesthetic doesn't deviate much from the original model. It's available in either a silver or a dark gray finish, with both copper and red finishes planned for future release. It's larger than a standard doorknob, but unobtrusive nonetheless. August's HomeKit-enabled Smart Lock 2.0 improves on an already awesome product and is worth strong consideration -- even if you don't have an iPhone.

2. Security Lighting

A smarter smart bulb. Each one features a yellow module that pops right into the center of the bulb; that module includes a battery backup that'll let the lights shine without power, a microphone that listens for your doorbell or burglar alarm, and a Bluetooth radio that lets you sync things up with your smartphone. BeOn's bulbs learn your usage patterns, too. Tell the system you're away for the evening, and the bulbs will automatically "replay" your typical lighting changes to make it look like you're home -- no programming needed.

It's an intriguing pitch -- both for the focus on security and for the built-in batteries, which keep your lights on even when things are switched off (or when the power's out). That frees you up to use your lights like you normally would, and it gives these bulbs a strong selling point over more traditional smart bulbs that require you to leave your switches on.

3. Cloud Cam

Amazon's inaugural camera isn't perfect -- there's no local storage and you have to subscribe to the optional cloud service to access security alerts. But I dare you to find another HD live-streaming camera that doesn't sacrifice something significant (glitchy app, convoluted setup, wonky design). I'll wager you can't, especially at this price. 

The Cloud Cam isn't the only device out there with these things, but it is one of the only cameras with all of these things. It's DIY home security at its best; it works well with minimal effort and expense. 

4. Outdoor Smart Camera

Kuna's Toucan camera has a clever design, a low-key aesthetic, and cool extras like an alarm and 2 hours of free cloud storage. For the price, it's great deal. Housed in a circular, matte-black panel, the Toucan looks more utilitarian and discreet than the design-forward models out today like Nest Cam Outdoor.

The $199 Toucan has a bunch of the basic outdoor camera stuff: HD video resolution, a motion sensor, alerts, a related app, two-way talk and cloud storage. But the best bit is that it also retrofits to existing outdoor wall lights via a USB cable, which means no batteries, no wires and no fuss. Additionally, your purchase includes a Smart Socket adapter that can make a regular bulb smart, and you can then use the app to link your camera to your light fixture.

5. Nest Protect

After the first Protect was deemed dangerously unreliable after it hit retail, leading to a recall, Nest Labs created a second-generation Protect. It is noticeably sleeker and smarter than its predecessor. With a slimmer profile, a new in-app "silence" button that allows you to turn off smoke and CO alarms remotely (the original Nest Protect doesn't currently support this feature) and integration with the Nest Learning Thermostat , Nest Cam and IFTTT, this $99 detector is the best connected one we've seen yet. If you already have a first-gen Nest Protect, I'd skip this upgrade, but I strongly recommend the Protect 2.0 to first-time connected detector shoppers.

You can use the second-gen Nest Protect even if you don't have Wi-Fi (or temporarily lose your Wi-Fi connection for some reason). Whether or not you have Wi-Fi, the Protect unit will issue a loud warning if it senses increasing smoke or CO levels.

The Protect will also test itself for low batteries or any other concerns regularly, communicate with any other Protects in the house (if one Protect alarm detects smoke, all of the Protects in the house ring) and display a faint white light when you walk underneath it in the dark -- presumably on your way to get a late night snack, a feature it calls Pathlight.

There may be a lot of other devices that will fit your needs. Be sure to check their features, if they are in par with what you think you need at home. Check for reviews and updates. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Click here to see more smart devices currently available.

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