Lots of useful gadgets have appeared in our homes and workplaces over the years and some have become really popular very quickly, often because they are unusual, if not a touch weird, and therefore tend to stand out from the crowd. In fact, these days you can find a great gadget for every room in your home as well as one or two for the backyard. Some of these are great practical solutions while others represent technological development over time. Here are a few examples of what’s out there at the moment, of just about to be, and the kinds of things you may feel you shouldn’t be without.
As the Internet of Things is now upon us, it’s almost obligatory to be able to control almost every device in your home using a remote or your smartphone. This is true, for example, of tracking energy use and controlling home lighting via specially designed apps on your cell phone. Both of these systems are highly practical and potentially money saving pieces of tech.
Another innovation that has practical applications is wireless enabled cameras that can be used inside or outside your home. The connected app on your phone lets you tune in and watch as well as listen to what’s going on. With advanced technology, you can get emails and alerts should the system detect a problem.
After years of enjoying satellite TV your home is now in the era of connected TV, which does not involve purchasing a new television but instead means you can install a little black box that hooks up to your existing TV set and enhances what it does. You can stream movies, TV shows and music through your TV and, of course, there’s a smart remote to help you manage your options.
[pullquote]With this setup, the remote is a gadget in its own right and you can swipe it or activate it by voice.[/pullquote] It’s programmed with apps to send you weather reports, let you watch educational shows and play games. All of these are specially designed to be played on your TV.
An alternative version of the box is a small gadget that plugs into your TV’s HDMI socket and wirelessly connects to your broadband. Using your phone or tablet you can then stream whatever’s on your devices to your TV. This system comes with an app for your phone that acts as your remote control.
If music is your first love then you’ll want to be able to listen to your favorites as you move around your home. Thanks to new hi-tech speaker systems that connect wirelessly to your phone you can do just that. Once again, an app is used to let you program what you listen to and whether you play sounds through your TV or opt for surround sound.
Many kitchen gadgets have become core items in every home, such as coffee machines, refrigerators, and microwaves. You can find cups that will keep your coffee hot or your beer cold; food processors to tackle multiple kitchen tasks and popcorn makers for family movie night. These essential gadgets are so popular that they are consumer favorites, regularly showcased on TV, and can be found online through reputable retailers such as, as Seen on TV.
In the future, designers are predicting that our domestic machines will be able to communicate with each other, to devices and to apps, via Bluetooth or wireless, to send relevant information that will help you to better organize how you live. For example, what if your refrigerator calculates which food items are about to expire then sends you a text with recipe ideas to use it up? Once you respond, your kitchen connects with an online grocery store and all the additional ingredients you need arrive at your home just as you return from work.
This is not as far-fetched as you might think. Already developers have created a magnetic button designed to live in your fridge and transmit all sorts of useful, food-related data to a mobile device via an app that can be shared with family members. Then there are connected containers that record the contents and create data reflecting their nutritional value, such as levels of caffeine or number of carbohydrates. The prototype is already being tested in the US.
Even a connected kitchen bin can track garbage and transmit information about which food items are finished and no longer available.
If you have trouble regularizing your sleeping patterns there’s already a quirky little gadget to lend a helping hand. This will monitor your sleep, including how long it takes you to drift off, how many times you’re disturbed in the night and even the noise levels in your room. When the data is collected and transmitted to your mobile device your app will help you design a better sleep environment.
Hospitality At Home
Your new robot for making perfect martinis is a great talking point at a dinner party, and, yes, there’s already a gadget being trialed that will take care of that. The automatic bartender gadget can create hundreds of drinks according to how it’s programmed and the ingredients you choose.
As inventors, scientists and technicians continue to develop these design ideas, so it seems likely that more and more weird and wonderful gadgets, devices and systems will come your way. Not all of these will endure, however, those that do, such as the refrigerator in its current form, are likely to be more connected to other devices and ‘smarter.’ Of course, tech gadgets are only as good as the quality of the data they gather and the way in which that data is used.
Over time, you will probably embrace what works for you, whether that’s a connected TV that can send you weather reports and news, or a cup that keeps your coffee hot, and your beer cold, and let the rest go until you find you just can’t do without them.