These tech products will connect your home and bring it into the future

By Matthew Dunn

Just because you're renting, doesn't mean you can't have a 'smart' home. Photo / 123RF
Just because you're renting, doesn't mean you can't have a 'smart' home. Photo / 123RF

Just because you are renting or don't have tens of thousands of dollars to buy the latest of products doesn't mean you can't make your home more connected.

With the 'Internet of Things' becoming more popular, there are a plethora of products on the market you can purchase to bring your home in 2017 without spending a motza.

We have compiled a list of cheap and reliable products to make your 'dumb' home much smarter.

UPDATE YOUR OLD TELEVISION

While there are some quality mid-range smart televisions on the market, there might be other things you need to purchase before the luxury of a new TV.

Thankfully, its super easy and relatively cheap to bring your old TV into the future.

CHROMECAST ULTRA - $109

Chromecast Ultra is a dongle that plugs into your TV's HDMI port and allows you to stream 4K Ultra HD & HDR picture quality over your Wi-Fi network.

Once plugged in, you can cast media from your existing computer, tablet or mobile device through your home Wi-Fi network and onto your TV screen.

The device provides fast, reliable performance with minimal buffering and smoother streaming, with the dongle automatically optimising your content for the best picture quality possible.

If your Wi-Fi network isn't sufficient to meet the demands of 4K, Chromecast Ultra comes with a built-in Ethernet adaptor so you can use a wired connection for a smoother experience.

If you didn't care too much about 4K capabilities, you can also buy the Chromecast 2 for around $68.

Once plugged in, you can cast media from your existing computer, tablet or mobile device through your home Wi-Fi network and onto your TV screen. Photo / Chromecast Ultra website
Once plugged in, you can cast media from your existing computer, tablet or mobile device through your home Wi-Fi network and onto your TV screen. Photo / Chromecast Ultra website

APPLE TV - $299 - $349

The fourth-generation Apple TV has been on the market for a couple of years and has been hugely popular with consumers.

While slightly more expensive than the Chromecast Ultra, the Apple TV is a set-top box that plugs into your television via a HDMI cable and works as a media streamer for all of your home entertainment needs.

The product has been built around the foundation of giving users thousands of apps to meet all of their streaming, lifestyle and gaming requirements.

As it currently stands there are a number of streaming services available for download and these include apps such as iTunes Movies and TV, Apple Music, Netflix and Stan.

Included with the product is a small, thin remote control that isn't overloaded with mystery buttons you are scared to push for fear of changing settings.

Additionally, Apple TV has been fitted with Siri, who can recommend movies based on genres, ratings, actors, eras, characters or cast.

Included with the product is a small, thin remote control that isn't overloaded with mystery buttons you are scared to push for fear of changing settings. Photo / Apple TV website
Included with the product is a small, thin remote control that isn't overloaded with mystery buttons you are scared to push for fear of changing settings. Photo / Apple TV website

SLEEPING JUST GOT HI-TECH

Sure you would expect electronic items to have smarter options, but the fun doesn't stop there.

Thanks to companies using some serious innovation, sleeping just got much more hi-tech than you would have ever expected.

SLEEP NUMBER $370 - $4000 +

OK, it's slightly more expensive, but what a time to be alive when your smart bed senses your movements then automatically adjusts firmness, comfort and support to ensure you get a good nights sleep.

But what exactly does a smart bed do to live up to this promise?

With studies claiming warm feet promote the rapid onset of sleep, the Sleep Number 360 will warm the foot of the bed to ensure you can doze off easier and will then turn off the heat once you are out.

Even more impressive is a feature designed specifically for those who snore - the bed has been fitted with sensors to detect when someone is snoring and will automatically raise the upper portion of the mattress to help clear their airways.

If two people are sleeping on the bed, it will only lift one half of the mattress, so it doesn't wake the other person.

The bed has also been fitted with SleepIQ technology that correlates with a smartphone app.

This feature allows you to adjust to your ideal level of firmness and support, with ResponsiveAir technology learning your needs and adjusting the bed as you sleep.

SleepIQ technology will also analyse how your daily life can affect your sleep by connecting to your thermostat and fitness tracker.

The bed can even learn your sleep routines and wake you up at your optimum time each morning.

WHAT ABOUT THE KITCHEN?

Fridges have come a long way in recent years, with some of the high-end models fitted with personal assistants, internet connected screens and connected shopping apps.

While these will set you back a pretty penny, there is a much cheaper solution that offers many of the same features.

SMARTER FRIDGECAM - $170

A product known as the Smarter FridgeCam is working to bring "dumb" fridges into the future.

The gadget is a small camera that is placed inside a fridge and takes pictures whenever the door is open or shut.

The images are sent to the cloud and can be viewed on the user's smartphone, making it easier when they next hit the shops.

The device also uses object recognition technology to understand what is in the fridge and will send push notifications when the user is running low on stock or when their food is about to expire.

The app also uses geolocation technology to send notifications when the user is near a shop and needs to pick up items.

Furthermore, the app can recommend recipes based on what ingredients are in the fridge.

Smarter FridgeCam will be launching in the US early this year for $170, with more countries to follow later in the year.

The gadget is a small camera that is placed inside a fridge and takes pictures whenever the door is open or shut. Photo / Smater.am website
The gadget is a small camera that is placed inside a fridge and takes pictures whenever the door is open or shut. Photo / Smater.am website


GENICAN - $174.99

If you are the type of person who wishes it was easier to keep track of the products you need to buy from the grocery store, Genican is the product for you.

The small gadget lives on the edge of your bin and comes equipped with a small barcode reader.

Then it's as simple as scanning the barcode of your product when you place the item in the bin and it will be added to a list on the GeniCan app on your smartphone.

If you're dealing with an item without a barcode, there is a relatively easy solution - if you hold the item in front of the GeniCan scanner for a few seconds and it will ask what needs to be added to your list when no barcode is picked up.

The small gadget lives on the edge of your bin and comes equipped with a small barcode reader. Photo / Genicam Website
The small gadget lives on the edge of your bin and comes equipped with a small barcode reader. Photo / Genicam Website

BACKYARD BLITZ

Smart products don't have to be limited to inside your home, with a number of products on the market designed to make your backyard even better.

HUSQVARNA ROBOT MOWER - $2499 - $5999

Again, this may not be the cheapest product on the market, but it sure has its benefits.

Husqvarna's robotic lawnmower will automatically keep your lawn looking fresh, working around the clock without your supervision.

The product ensures the cuttings are small enough that there is no need to rake the clippings, with the offcuts working as fertiliser for the soil.

The Husqvarna Automower will work in any weather and is able to maintain half acre lawns, with the product being very quiet and discreet.

The robot mower is capable of operating on rough terrain and will redirect itself when it meets an obstacle.

While impressive, news.com.au tested the product and there are some minor issues with functionality.

LIGHTING SOLUTIONS

Just because you can't rewire your rental property, doesn't mean you can't have smart lighting throughout your home.

WEMO LED LIGHTING STARTER SET - $80.00

Using your existing home Wi-Fi network and mobile internet, you are able to dim these lights or switch them on/off all from your smart device.

Available on iOS and Android devices, the Wemo app have the ability to control each light individually or as a group according to room or area of the house.

It has even been made possible to create a custom schedule that works for your household.

The smartbulbs have even been designed to protect your house when you are on holiday, with the product using a random algorithm to turn things on and off automatically.

The starter set of this product contains two WeMo Smart LED Bulbs and WeMo Link - a device allowing you to connect up to 50 WeMo Smart LED Bulbs.

Available on iOS and Android devices, the Wemo app have the ability to control each light individually or as a group according to room or area of the house. Photo / Belkin website
Available on iOS and Android devices, the Wemo app have the ability to control each light individually or as a group according to room or area of the house. Photo / Belkin website

SENGLED PULSE SOLO - $73

With a goal to revolutionise the lighting industry by transforming your house into a connected home, Sengled has created Pulse Solo smart bulb.

The product combines the energy efficiency of a dimmable LED light with the high-quality audio of JBL Bluetooth speaker to provide you a home entertainment experience that you can easily control.

While the sound quality isn't the best, for a little extra cost you can upgrade to the Pulse set to includes a subwoofer module to bring the bass.

Like the above product, there is an app available which allows you to dim the brightness of your light from your smartphone.

This can be done while continuing to play music - a feature that could be helpful when preparing for a romantic encounter.

- news.com.au

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