Here come the smart homes.
Don’t be alarmed—this doesn’t signal an “I, Robot” style catastrophe wherein our houses form minds of their own and conspire against their landlords. On the contrary, a smart home is simply a collective evolution of the individual appliances and security features common to most dwellings. As it turns out, the functionality of apps is pushing this phenomenon forward. Let’s take a look at a few examples that have begun to appear.
Lockitron is a device that fits over your current deadbolt and can be accessed via an iOS and Android app, as well as a mobile website. It allows you to lock your door from anywhere in the world through an intuitive two-button interface. You can immediately see if your door is unlocked, and receive notifications when your child unlocks the door using their phone or key. Access is easily shared with family and friends, and the battery lasts for up to one year—notifying you when it’s running low. Lockitron’s technology relies on the same security protocols as online banking, so you never have to worry about driving back home to check on the lock yourself.
As the creators of Nest put it, “most people leave the house at one temperature and forget to change it.” So why not employ an advanced thermostat that learns your schedule, programs itself, and can be controlled by your phone instead? If you use it right, it’ll only lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20%, after all. During setup, you set minimum and maximum temperatures for your home, and an auto-away feature automatically lowers the temperature when Nest senses you’ve been away for a little while. The best part about Nest is it learns from its mistakes—if it turns your heat down while you’re working quietly at home for a few hours, touching it will teach it to be more wary of your schedule next time. Whichever habits you have when it comes to keeping your house warm or cool, Nest will pick up after just a few manual adjustments. It can currently be accessed online and via an iOS app, with the Android app on its way.
The AGA iTotal Control is a smart stove controlled through text messages, mobile apps, or web. It allows you to turn on the stove while you’re away from home so a meal is ready the second you walk through the door. For families with children, it’s a very valuable tool as it enables you to monitor your oven and stove directly from a tablet, computer, or phone. It’s currently only available in the United Kingdom, but a U.S. appearance may happen soon—allowing millions of people to stop wondering if they turned off the stove ten minutes after leaving the house.
Moving into another area of home appliances—washers and dryers—this Samsung duo can be controlled by, you guessed it, a mobile app. Similar to having a hot meal ready for you when you get home, you can remotely turn on your dryer an hour
before you get home to have fresh and warm clothes ready upon your arrival. The app, available for iOS and Android, also notifies you when a load is done. Now you don’t have to run over and keep checking, only to ultimately forget to transfer clothes to the dryer when the washer is actually finished.
The Milkmaid is a glass milk jug that plugs into a smart base that stays in your refrigerator. It’s able to measure the freshness of your milk by using pH sensors, feeling both when it’s spoiled and how long until it will be spoiled. It also has a temperature sensor that alerts you when your milk is left out too long, minimizing the risk of developing harmful bacteria. This information can all be accessed via a free iPhone app.
More and more, software is starting to appear in objects and appliances that on their own used to seem quite ordinary. The key to leveraging this evolution of “smart” devices is to access them via apps. Whether it’s something as simple as keeping your milk fresh longer, or functionality as crucial as keeping your home secure, technology is advancing to meet everyday needs in safe and intuitive ways.