TECH TALK

Apps to make your home worthy of the Jetsons


Published: Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 6:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 6:09 p.m.

Once upon a time, in a theme park not too far away, there opened a new attraction called Epcot. It was the early 1980s. For a wide-eyed little bugger like me, it came with utter amazement at the tech-centric quality of life that Epcot prophesied was coming. It was my baptism into geekness.

Thirty years later, that dream of living Jetson-style is stuck somewhere between Gangnam and a hard place. Still, while my Labrador looks nothing like Astro and my boy has not hit Elroy status, it seems the first few salvos have been fired regarding the techno bling that is destined to someday adorn our abodes.

We have seen the UFO-inspired iRobot for more than a decade now as the curious little vacuum does the roomba roomba as it automatically cleans our floors.

Even our homes are getting solid street cred, as smart thermostats that auto-detect the activity and populous of a given room and adjusts temperature accordingly. We have come a long way since the as-seen-on-TV clunkers.

Now comes a new batch of fully baked and half-baked home automation gadgets fresh out of the oven.

Phillips Hue: Lighting dictates ambience like nothing else. This series of LED smart bulbs is the coolest thing to hit lighting since Edison.

These app-controlled units allow you to dictate strength, color and mood like nothing else. Time for a movie? Having a romantic dinner? Reading before bed? There is a smart setting for these and other everyday scenarios.

It's all controlled from your mobile device whether you're home or far away. The only thing that might make you feel like a dim bulb is the price: $199 for the starter pack, which gives you three bulbs and the connective bridge. Additional bulbs are a wallet-socking $59.95 each.

Lumawake: No way you've seen a bedside smartphone dock like this. Yes, it charges your iPhone, and it even serves as a soft light being emitted from said device.

When you close your eyes, however, is when this thing comes alive. IR motion sensors monitor your sleep stages and wake you automatically when you'll feel most rested.

Along with other home automation systems, Lumawake will automatically turn the television on or off; start the coffee machine and even turn on the lights.

This offers a whole new spin on waking up in a good mood. (Note to self: Make sure I get this for my morning-loathing wife next year.)

Smart monitoring: Ever felt a little queasy leaving your teenager home alone for the weekend? Curious how your dog handles the temptation of the sofa while you're away?

Plenty of home monitoring systems are now available that allow you to place cameras throughout your home and view or remotely control them from your mobile device. This works nicely for an elderly loved one, as does a well-placed camera in the driveway or near the front door.

Satis integrated toilet: This is a throne fit for a (tech) king. Ever forget to flush? Double flush? Ever have that "ah ha" moment when you remember you left the lid up (or girls left it down)?

All these problems can be rectified via a smartphone app. Just a couple taps will ensure you're not the scorn of your significant other.

Of course, this sweet seat has all the other wonder-john features like soft light, music, built-in air purifier and the retractable spray nozzle to get to the bottom of all your cleaning needs. I don't dare forget about the heated seats, because we all know how that one goes.

Tech Talk will be on vacation next week. See you in 2013!

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top