Smart Home Devices Worth All the Hype

Avatar for Jin Budelmann

Jin Budelmann

Digital Engineering Lead

It’s 5:30 am, I should be in bed. That’s what I keep telling myself.

Instead, here I am, navigating through rain-soaked roads and dodging traffic. About fifteen minutes into my commute, a rush of panic comes over me—a mental checklist of things I've likely (let's be real, definitely) forgotten to do before leaving home in a rush. Lights left on, garage door gaping wide, heater blazing away, and oh, the house alarm—still disarmed. Insert curse word!

A few years ago, this situation would've triggered an immediate U-turn, heading straight back home. But today, all it takes is a smartphone to control different devices in my home, turning a stressful start to the day into a minor inconvenience.

The era of the smart home is upon us

With advancements in technology and widespread internet access, managing and automating your home has become incredibly easy. With just a tap and swipe on your smartphone, you can get your fridge to order groceries, create lighting that adapts to your mood, and wake up to freshly brewed coffee in the morning.

The race to make life easier is at an all-time high, with new gadgets popping up daily and people adopting these innovations at rapid speed. According to a 2023 survey, the fascination with smart home devices has surged dramatically, with over 63 million households in the United States alone embracing the tech in some shape or form—an impressive 10% increase from the previous year. This surge isn't merely about numbers; it's a testament to the irresistible pull of a lifestyle promising seamless convenience, unrivaled comfort, energy efficiency, and advanced security measures.

In this article, we look at the world of innovation and practicality, delving into the top five smart home devices that live up to the hype and expectations surrounding them.

Our top five picks

The Smart Thermostat

In 2011, Nest was an industry-defining innovation. Photo Credit: Marcela Gara

In 2011, the smart home landscape witnessed a pivotal moment with the introduction of Nest. This smart thermostat, armed with Wi-Fi connectivity and sophisticated learning algorithms, seamlessly integrated into existing HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems). Users gained remote control over temperature settings, basic automation, and scheduling features. Nest's capacity to analyse usage patterns and adapt heating accordingly not only bolstered energy efficiency but also enhanced overall comfort. Recognising the immense potential of this breakthrough device, Google made a bold move by acquiring Nest for a staggering $3.2 billion, marking its foray into the world of smart homes. Today, smart thermostats have become commonplace, often integrated into modern HVAC setups. However, Nest's revolutionary design and unparalleled functionality cemented its position as the pioneer in this transformative technology.

Smart Lights

Smart lighting is the easiest entry point into the world of smart homes.

Smart lights are an easy entry point into your smart home journey. Installing smart lights often involves a straightforward process: swap out your regular bulb with a smart one and follow the app's guidance to get set up. With a wide range of smart bulbs available for various socket types and styles, finding one to suit your needs shouldn’t be a problem. These bulbs typically offer dimming capabilities, even without a physical dimmer switch, and the flexibility to customise light colours or warmth instantly. Philips Hue, debuting in 2011, was the pioneering smart lightbulb brand and remains a prominent leader in the field.

Smart Garage Door/Gate Opener

Smart garages offer an elevated level of security. Photo Credit: Daiga Ellaby.

You might be questioning the necessity of a smart device for your garage when a trusty remote control already does the job. However, like other smart gadgets, this innovation elevates convenience to an entirely new level. A smart garage door opener operates like a conventional one but comes with enhanced connectivity, enabling remote control and monitoring via your smartphone or other smart home devices. Beyond convenience, smart openers grant you a security layer by allowing temporary access to friends, family, or delivery personnel. They also keep you in the loop by sending notifications each time the garage door is activated, giving you a clear picture of who's coming and going. Additionally, certain models provide advanced security measures such as encryption and two-factor authentication to further enhance your security measures. Lastly, many models offer voice-activated control, letting you simply command your garage door's actions through voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant, making the entire process even more seamless and hands-free.

Robot Vaccum

Robot vacuums are the definition of smart home technology - turning cumbersome chores into simple experiences.

iRobot introduced a real domestic game changer in 2002 with the robot vacuum. These compact and intelligent devices autonomously navigate through homes, effortlessly gliding under furniture and around obstacles to clean areas that might be hard to reach with a traditional vacuum. Equipped with advanced sensors and mapping technology, they adapt to various floor surfaces and adjust cleaning patterns accordingly, ensuring a thorough clean. You can use your smartphone to schedule routine cleanings, control and monitor the vacuum remotely, and a whole lot more. Overall, robot vacuums streamline the cleaning process, saving time and effort while maintaining a consistently clean living space.

Automated Blinds/Curtains

Smart blinds manage the amount of sunlight entering your home, reducing reliance on artificial lighting and heating or cooling systems.

Smart blinds revolutionised both convenience and functionality in the home. With the ability to be controlled remotely using your smartphone or integrated smart home systems, smart blinds enable you to adjust the blinds' positioning, whether raising, lowering, or tilting the slats, from anywhere, providing precise control over natural light and privacy levels. Automation features enable scheduled routines, syncing with sunrise and sunset times or personal preferences, fostering energy efficiency by regulating the amount of sunlight that enters a room. The integration with voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant enhances accessibility, allowing users to effortlessly manage their blinds with simple verbal commands. It is worth noting that while there are different variants of the technology available, it is generally one of the harder and more expensive to retrofit or even install into a new home.

Honorable Mentions

Smart home devices are being adopted at a rapid pace as people look to create safer and more convenient living spaces.

There are so many great devices on the market, we have to mention our favourite devices that are great but didn’t quite crack our top five list.

Voice Assistant Speakers

Apple, Google, and Amazon all have their own voice assistants and smart speakers to match. These gadgets provide hands-free control over your smart home devices, whether you're in the kitchen, lounging on the couch, or even relaxing in the bathtub. Don’t forget they can also play music from your favourite streaming services as well.

Smart Locks

Smart Locks redefine home entry—tap a button, use your fingerprint, enter a PIN, or wave your phone/watch. Gain control by granting temporary access and monitoring who comes and goes into your home. Pair with a smart doorbell for comprehensive home access management.

Smart Power Sockets

Smart power sockets are incredibly underrated. These simple devices not only monitor energy usage but also grant remote control over connected devices. By transforming regular appliances into smart ones, they provide insights into power consumption, spotlighting potential energy drains that might be costing you money.

As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of smart home technology, it's clear that these innovations are more than mere gadgets—they're the architects of a lifestyle revolution. From redefining energy management to seamlessly controlling our spaces with a tap or a voice command, these devices have reshaped the way we interact with our homes. The allure of comfort, security, and efficiency takes center stage in this technological theater. We're not just witnessing a leap in technology; we're experiencing a lifestyle metamorphosis where homes intuitively adapt to our needs, making daily routines smoother, more efficient, and undeniably delightful. So, as we embrace this era of smart homes, it's not just about the gadgets; it's about crafting a future where our living spaces cater to us in ways we've only dreamed of.