These days we can communicate, work, shop and play through our smartphones. Now we can control our homes too.
We’re all incredibly busy people – we don’t have time to get up and change the thermostat, feed the cat, switch the lights off AND lock the door.
But thanks to a range of smartphone apps, we can control nearly any part of our house without needing to get off the sofa.
1. Philips Hue
The Hue system lets you wirelessly control up to 50 different lightbulbs at once, giving you the power to:
Switch lights on and off.
Change the intensity – dim the lights to set the mood.
Change the colour and tone – from surgical white to sultry red, for example.
Use your lights as an alarm or security system.
The lights are connected to an app via a central “bridge” that plugs into your Wi-Fi router.
From there you can play with the settings or create “light recipes” to suit your tastes.
Now you can make it look like someone’s at home while you’re on holiday without relying on a neighbour.
2. August Smart Lock
Pop quiz, hot shot. The gas man is due at your house, but you need to take the kids to school. What do you do?
Answer: give him a temporary access code that lets him into your house for no more than 30 minutes.
This is what the folks at August have developed with their Smart Lock system.
You’ll be alerted when they enter and leave the house using the codes you send them, and you can set it so that their code only works for a certain amount of time.
The system can also unlock as your approach the door – no need to fumble for your keys after a night out.
Nest aims to improve the energy efficiency of your home by making your thermostat work harder.
The system lets you control how your home is heated through its app – letting you turn the heat up or down as you wish.
You can also set the heating to come on when you’re within a certain distance from your house.
So if you’re on the way home from a long journey, you can make sure your home is nice and toasty as soon as you step through the door.
If you like, you can let Nest figure out the best times to switch the heating on and off.
Using its Auto-Away feature, Nest learns when you’re not at home and changes the temperature accordingly.
Now you don’t need to worry about wasting energy while you’re at work or out shopping.
So heating, lighting and security is covered. What about the host of appliances and gadgets that you have at home?
There’s an app for those too.
Wemo uses its app to control any device that plugs into the mains.
For example, you can control when your coffee maker should start brewing in the morning, or when to switch the oven off while you’re not at home.
If you want to get creative, you can set recipes via IFTTT so that your lights turn on as the sun sets, or to switch your TV off whenever you send a tweet saying “Night, peeps!”.
A few years back, pooch-loving inventor Nat Morris rigged up a system that dispensed pet food whenever he sent a Twitter message to the @FeedToby account.
The system would also take a photo of Toby eating so Nat knew he’d been fed.
It was an internet hit – so much that so that people were tweeting and treating Toby left, right and centre.
Thankfully, you can do the same with your pet without needing to be an inventor.
The Petnet lets you control when and how often your pet is fed, even when you’re not around.
The companion app measures exact amounts so you won’t over-feed your pet, saving you money in the process.
It also keeps track of how much food is left in the dispenser so you won’t go empty unexpectedly.
Future of the home
Some of this technology is still in the early stages.
But when they hit, they could be the next big thing for our homes.
We’ve pulled together some of the most exciting future tech developments into the Future of the home – an interactive look at the house of tomorrow.