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Charged: The Smartest Home
A look at the future of intelligent home tech by way of five standout devices currently available
by Graham Hiemstra
on 27 March 2014

In recent years, the ways in which we as culture interact with technology has shifted. Much in the same way the iPhone completely changed how cell phones, cameras and music players are considered, devices like thermostats that learn how warm you like it when you get home from work and autonomous vacuums that wake up when you fall asleep have emerged that hint at a not so distant future in which intelligent technology will be fully integrated into the home. And while much talk in the tech industry continues to surround wearables and the quantified self, a separate, parallel conversation—perhaps even more applicable to the general population—continues around the idea of the smart home. Here we highlight five of the more significant (and well-designed) offerings to reach market of late.

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Nest Protect

After introducing much of the world to the idea of a smart home with the Nest thermostat in 2011, the forward-looking brand has continued to push towards overall home connection with the Nest Protect, a smart smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. In order to transform the famously irksome product into a thing of simplicity and beauty, Nest completely redesigned the detector. Rather than erupt in a roar of sirens at the first sign of smoke, Nest Protect speaks in a human voice, alerting you to either rising CO levels or the presence of smoke. If the issue is a bit of burnt toast, wave your hand at the device and all will be ignored. Should the issue be more serious, an alarm will sound, aided by the same human voice telling you what and where the problem is (Wi-Fi enables multiple devices throughout your home to communicate with each other). And to avoid the dreaded chirp, a message is sent to your phone when batteries are low. Visit Nest directly for more details.

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Neato BotVac

Neato rather poignantly poses the question: If your home isn't round, why should your vacuum be? Even better, it offers an answer in the form of the world's most evolved vacuum. The BotVac can be scheduled for both spot cleans or a comprehensive sweep. The laser-guided technology scans and maps the environment (aka your home) and plots a methodical approach in order to reduce time and improve efficiency across multiple surfaces. When its batteries are running low, the vacuum returns to its charging base—after, of course, taking note of where it left off in the cleaning process. With a sleek, near-autonomous robot in charge of vacuuming, the future home looks dust-bunny free.

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August Smart Lock

Ideal for those already consuming the latest in tech, the August Smart Lock lets you control the lock on your front door via your iDevice. Designed by prolific designer Yves Béhar, the handsome August updates your existing key-and-bolt system to allow for both keyed and keyless entry. The companion app allows you to lock and unlock the deadbolt remotely and even enable a visitor's phone to act as a key for a predetermined amount of time. Read our initial article for more specifics and keep an eye on August, as their intelligent designs are sure to iterate and improve with time.

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Whistle

To many, man's best friend is also part of the family. Few creatures have the range of emotion and personality that dogs do, so to further understand the health and fitness needs of your pup, Whistle monitors daily activity with a collar-mounted device and iPhone app. The waterproof device wirelessly syncs with your smart phone (via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth 4.0) to keep tabs on your dog's daily activity, ensuring you two remain closer than ever—for longer than ever. Visit Whistle for a more comprehensive look at the quantified dog device.

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Samsung Smart Home Appliances

So, with security and some of the more tedious household chores covered, the next step is addressing your larger appliances, which happen to be some of the most inefficient, energy-draining and, to date, disconnected of all. Thankfully, Samsung is taking a huge leap forward with its new range of "smart appliances," everything from the fridge and microwave to dishwasher, stove and even vacuum. While these may not entirely be on par with other levels of smart home tech, they are a significant step in the right direction. Samsung refrigerators with Wi-Fi allow you to organize your food and even order more with built-in apps, while temperature controls ensure you get the longest life out of each piece of produce. Of all the rooms in the future smart home, we most look forward to further developments in the kitchen.

Images courtesy of each respective brand

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