The High Tech Powered House

by ritasimpson on October 29, 2013

in Latest News

 With computers and tech infiltrating everything from refrigerators to thermostats, today’s fully wired homes are getting smarter than ever.

Here’s a look at some of the gadgets and tech powering today’s wired home, inside and out.

The Wired Yard.

Home irrigation systems controlled remotely via mobile apps can check the weather and/or soil moisture levels, automatically adjusting watering as needed. And mini-systems will water and feed your potted plants, indoors and out.

Automatic lawnmowers roam over your yard, cutting a preset amount of grass. (It knows to stay in bounds via a set of wires placed around the edge of the yard.) And even though you still have to climb up the ladder to set it up, an automatic gutter clearer will do the nastier parts of cleaning the gutters, scooping out the muck in 30 feet of gutter in five minutes.

Even the humble garage door has become smarter with apps that open and shut the door, send alerts if the door’s been left open and, for forgetful types, can be set to close after a predetermined amount of time.

A High-Tech Entrance.

Smart locks have features to let guests in remotely, message you when someone opens the door and let you give digital access to other people, customizing how long they’ll have access. Bluetooth-enabled devices recognize a digital key and unlock the door as you walk up without you needing to fumble to get the phone out.

Video doorbells take a picture of who is at the door and let you chat with them. Some models also record pictures of visitors who stopped by while you were away.

And smart alarm systems run the gamut from simple app-controlled motion-sensing devices to whole house security with remote locking and unlocking features, alerts for sudden changes in air quality and temperature, and real time video surveillance.

The Intelligent Kitchen

Smart refrigerators do more than just sit there keeping things cool. New models offer touch screens and WiFi hookups to access cooking shows, weather, and apps that let you listen to Pandora or check your Twitter feed. Some versions are accessible through smart phone and TV and will scan your groceries, offer recipe suggestions using what you have on-hand, and notify you when expiration dates are near.

Smart ranges can be controlled remotely via phone or TV to set cooking times, troubleshoot and keep you informed of cooking status. Induction cooktops sense when a pan is placed upon them and won’t burn hands.

Kitchen counter tops enabled with wireless technology can recharge electronic devices, run kitchen appliances wirelessly and will notify you when a pot’s about to boil over.

Even trash cans have become smarter—sort of—with sensors that will open the lid with a wave of a hand.

The Bathroom Goes Hi-Tech

The flashiest new toilets are not only water-efficient, but also feature heated seats, motion-activated lids and will disinfect themselves. Some models even play music.

Bluetooth-enabled showerheads pipe in music or news during showers and waterproof TVs bring the screen right into the bath or shower. Digital showers let you save your favorite temperature, pulsation patterns and pressure settings and allow you start the shower remotely.

And next generation scales weigh you, calculate your BMI and ratio of lean to fat, then message you with the results, keeping track of your results (or lack thereof.) Hands-free faucets complete the House of the Future feel.

Tech Handles the Dirty Work

The latest washers and dryers come equipped with WiFi, allowing users to control wash cycles, temperatures and start times remotely. They can also troubleshoot, clean themselves and detect when energy consumption is lowest and run during least expensive periods.

A robot window washer outfitted with a built-in cleaning pad, squeegee, and drying pad, will roam quietly over the surface of windows tirelessly keeping them sparkly. Similar ‘bots handle floor washing and mopping duties.

Whole House Comfort

Smart shades automatically open in the morning and close in the evening. A smart thermostat learns your habits, monitors your energy usage, and can be controlled remotely via phone. Lighting systems can be set for different lighting scenarios featuring different colored lights and levels of dimming–a gradual lighting for a gentle morning wake up, for example. Choose preset lighting recipes like “relax” or “energize” or create your own. A less elaborate way to upgrade lighting is to install light switches that can be controlled remotely via an app.

Communicator gadgets monitor what’s going on in the house and report the results to your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Devices can be set to measure vibration, orientation, temperature, and moisture which translates into all kinds of surprisingly practical information like whether the basement has flooded, how many times someone gets into the pantry, or whether your plants need to be watered.

There are also special electric sockets that let you control and monitor via your phone whatever you plug into them, allowing you to do things like start the coffee maker, make sure the iron’s off, turn lights on and off, or heat up the toaster oven.

Entertainment Anytime, Anywhere

Whole house audio gives each family member access to their entire music library and favorite streaming music apps wherever they are in the house. A Bluetooth-enabled digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) lets you stream music from any digital source as well as old-school analogue sources (even records). Music can also be synched with preset lighting “scenes” to set various moods, for example, a date night, nap time, or dinner party.

TVs can now be controlled via apps, pressing the buttons on a remote or—on sets equipped with the same facial recognition technology video game systems use—just walking into the room. If button-pushing becomes too tiresome, voice-activated TVs change channels, record shows, and access all your apps and social media.

Plenty of wired homes have DVD libraries, TV, and cable and video streaming services on tap in every room but fully wired homes have a “movie” button on their remote that will dim the lights, lower the shades, set the temperature and start the movie.

As home tech gets more advanced, the trend is toward simplification. Instead of a system running the sprinklers and another controlling the lights, new systems put them all under one master control smartphone app that runs the whole show. The trick, then, is just not to lose the phone.

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