In the eyes of tech companies, the consumer living space has become the latest battleground for your hard earned cash, and one that could become very lucrative if they pull it off correctly. Here, we take a look at four exciting products; some brand new, some updated, that will be gracing our homes before the end of 2017.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for wondering why on earth you would need your fridge to be wi-fi enabled. All it does is keep your food cold, right? Taking a look at the new Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator could help change your mind! Retailing at anywhere between $3595 and $6000 depending on where you buy it, the first thing that will strike you about your new space-age fridge is the giant touch screen on the front. This 21.5in display is powered by Samsung’s proprietary OS, Tizen. While this may be a slight disappointment for those who would rather it was infused with the likes of Android, the OS comes with most of the integrations you would ever need, and being wi-fi enabled, updates are easily rolled out to allow for future additions. It also could be seen as a blessing in disguise, as having a pure Android experience on here could end up cluttering the sleek design, and also stops users simply installing apps that they are never likely to use. Instead, Samsung has instead concentrated on four main areas: food management, family communication, smart home integrations, and entertainment. The touchscreen itself, although not quite Ipad Pro standard is responsive and clear, with great viewing angles. Built in speakers offer decent enough sound quality, but not good enough for those times you wish to party in the kitchen. Luckily you can link the fridge to a Bluetooth speaker or soundbar, if you plan on raving whilst you cook. Weather widgets, whiteboard apps, internet radio, TV mirroring (from selected Samsung smart TV’s), and even a web browser are all pretty useful additions that come baked right in to the fridge OS, but the one thing that will generally blow the consumer away, is the built in cameras. Again, at first you could be wondering why you would need a camera inside your fridge. After all, can’t you just open the fridge and take a look? Well you could, but opening the door lets warm air inside, so keeping that door shut should save on running costs. Another great feature of the camera is that whilst you observe your food through the screen, you can drag little icons from the top of the screen onto each of the items tucked away inside, These little icons act as countdown timers for your food, and will warn you when your avocado or kale is about to go rotten. The camera is also available to view through the Hub’s official Android and IOS app, so you can check whether you have enough tomatoes at home, whilst you are in the supermarket. The app will also allow you to write messages on the whiteboard that will appear on the fridge instantly. Forgot to ask your partner to feed the dog when they get home? Or perhaps want to warn your little brother that those chocolate eclairs are for you and not for him? Just jot it down on the whiteboard, and it will be displayed at home for all to see.
The Samsung Family Hub performs the normal refrigerator duties extremely well, keeping the various different compartments at their set temperatures, and the movement of the doors and trays feels polished and well crafted, as well they should in a fridge with a price tag as hefty as this, but let’s face it, this fridge is not for the average consumer who is just looking to keep their food cool. if you happen to be an IOT fanatic, or someone who just wants to be on the cutting edge of smart home technology, the Family Hub from Samsung is definitely a product worth checking out.
Fed up with getting low quality sleep? Sleep Number beds are built to aid sleep using what they call SleepIQ technology. Basically these beds can be moulded to the particular contours of your body, using built in motors and controlled via a little handheld remote, or via their smartphone app. If you sleep better with your head slightly raised, simple tap in your request and the bed responds accordingly. Not only this, but the bed also monitors your movement, breathing, and heart rate throughout the night, allowing you to analyze what issues are causing you sleeping problems and consequently giving you more information to change whatever aspect of your night time regimen is causing you issues. If your sleeping needs are different from your partner then worry not, as both sides of the bed are individually controlled and monitored, allowing for both parties to coordinate their own strategy in the pursuit of the perfect night’s slumber. The Sleep Number bed with SleepIQ technology can also share information with your smartphone and fitness trackers such as Fitbit, and apps such as Apple Health and Nest , allowing you to form a more precise picture of your current overall health, and interact with other facets of your home life. Take a look at Sleep Number’s website for information on pricing, but bare in mind not all their mattresses and bases have this smart technology built in, so make sure you are looking at the correct set up for your needs. For the complete smart bed solution, including SleepIQ technology, massage settings, head and feet raising motors, and firmness customisation, you will be looking at around $4300. That isn’t cheap, but then again what price would you put on a good night’s sleep?
While the Amazon Echo and indeed the Google Home itself have been available to buy for a while now, 2017 should be a huge year for these little voice controlled hubs. Google Home perhaps has the slightly more interesting year ahead, with rumours abound that multiple account logins will be integrated into their system. Currently only one person can sign into a Google Home, which means that while your partner or children will still be able to use it, they won’t be able to access personalised information. For example, if you set up the Google Home from your own Gmail account, you can ask it how long your journey will take to work in the morning. However, if you partner asks the same question, he or she will receive a reply that relates to your journey. Once Google figure out how to support multiple accounts, their box of tricks leaps much further ahead than the Amazon Echo can ever hope to. This is because the sheer amount of data that Google already has about you would enable the search giant to solve problems that other companies simply wouldn’t have the raw data to replicate. Sure, Amazon knows a lot about your shopping list, but google not only knows your buying habits, but also your location, browsing history, and much more besides. Whether Google fix their muti-user issue by voice detection, phone proximity, or a combination of the two, rest assured once this is done Google Home could rapidly become the go-to device for the entire family. Many of the products that are discussed in the world of IOT can already be controlled using Google Home, and those that can’t will be much more likely to look into this form of user interaction in the future. While it’s nice to come home and just ask Google Home to run you a bath, it would be even nicer if, when you entered your house, Google knew that it was you coming through the door and could run you a bath at your perfect temperature whilst your partner would have their bath run a few degrees cooler when they arrive home in a few hours. The same technique could apply to cooking steak or brewing coffee just the way you like it. As more appliances become internet ready, the need to have them interact with you on a personal level become more necessary. Google’s vice president of product management Mario Queiroz, has already stated that handling multiple accounts is the ultimate goal for Google Home, and seeing as this is the number one complaint for the product as of today, we can safely bet that this is now priority number one for the Home team. When that happens, expect IOT devices to lean even more heavily on the Google ecosystem, and possibly make Google Home the number one voice controlled hub on the market. Google Home is priced at around £130.
So, you can talk to your phone, remotely view your living room from abroad, turn the heating on when you are on the way home from work, and check to see whether your groceries in the fridge are about to go mouldy, all at the touch of a button, but chances are you are still accessing your property with an old metal key. The August Smart Lock is here to change that, and it comes with some amazing functionality that will even make your work key-card look like a retro play toy. The August Smart Lock is attached on the inside of your door, and works with existing lock systems, allowing you to forget about using those old fashion metal keys ever again. Your door will now open automatically as you approach it (so long as you have your smart phone or smart watch on you), and lock automatically when you leave. As useful as this can be, the smart lock really comes into its own when you grant access to visitors. You can send your friend, guest, or delivery guy virtual keys that will allow them access for a set amount of time, whether that is 5 minutes, or 1 week is entirely up to you. You can also open and close the lock remotely, for those times you have an unexpected visitor while you are off site, and you can receive notification to your phone every time the door is unlocked which is great for parents who want to check their teenager has returned home after school. With a 24/7 activity log, remote access, and virtual keys, this lock system is simple, stylish, and extremely useful. Retailing for around $229, it is probably cheaper than you though too!