You might have heard the ‘Internet of Things’ bandied about as a sort of new wave of connectivity. Well, the wave is crashing to shore. The Internet of Things means, roughly speaking, a bunch of things that aren’t traditional computers, but are hooked up to the Internet anyway. If that seems like a broad definition, it is – we’re talking everything from light bulbs to refrigerators to thermostats, and that’s just for starters.
It means that the smart home is becoming a reality – home electronics that can be managed remotely from your smartphone, or, better yet, don’t need to managed at all. After all, that last bit is what being ‘smart’ is all about, right? So, how do you get there without breaking the bank? As it turns out, there are a lot of steps you can take that come in under $250. Maybe you won’t be able to splurge on everything here at once, but maybe that’s OK – you don’t want your home becoming too smart. Let’s enjoy these next few years before our homes join up to form Skynet. No need to rush.
Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensors
Don’t have a green thumb? Join the club. Then, join up with technology to beat the conspiracy that Mother Nature seems to have plotted against you. Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensors go right in the dirt with your plants, measuring moisture, temperature, and light intensity. The moisture sensor is designed to work in a variety of soil, so no matter what you’re growing, you should be covered. You just find your plant in the accompanying app, and the app will take care of the rest. You’ll know exactly when to water, and know about the health of your plants at all times, just by checking your smartphone.
The Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor comes in an indoors model for $120 or a weather-proof outdoors model for about $160.
Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat
Want your home to know when you want it warmer or cooler, without you needing to even lift a finger to app? It’s possible with the Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat. If you choose, you can let the thermostat learn your habits over time, and handle heating and cooling all on its own. That, and the newest version allows for voice commands. You can tell your home to get warmer, and it will. Let that soak in. Then, consider what you can do with an app – completely control your home’s temperature from anywhere, create schedules, and receive alerts if you’re away from home and things get dangerously cold or hot.
The voice-activated version hitting in November will go north of $250. But, you can still find the current version for $200. Besides, do you really want to start chatting up your home just yet?
Belkin WeMo Light Switch
Forget to hit the lights on your way out? Do it from your smartphone. Installing a WeMo Light Switch in your home will allow you to manage lighting remotely, without the need for special bulbs. You can also put lights on a schedule, and just forget about hitting the lights altogether. It’s easy to install, works with your home Wi-Fi network, and just costs $50.
And now, the part of Skynet that will always be keeping tabs on you. Dropcam HD is your home security camera. It’s easy to set up, and provides you with a streaming feed including 720p video and audio. You have the option of using two-way audio, as well, and there’s night vision, so you can keep an eye on your home at all hours. Dropcam’s free service allows you to watch your stream live from any Internet-connected device and receive alerts about activity in your home. $9.99 per month will get you a week’s worth of saved video that you can watch, as well. It’s simple, smartphone-friendly, and just $150.
Kohler Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Speaker
You want music in the shower, but you don’t want to make it a solo act. You can finally get a speaker right into the shower thanks to Kohler’s Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Speaker. It’s a showerhead with a waterproof speaker stuck right in the middle. The speaker can connect to your safely dry smartphone via Bluetooth, and can even be popped out of the showerhead and taken elsewhere once you’re done getting clean. Proper background music for your grand stage will run you a little over $142 if you shop Amazon.
Belkin gave you the smart light switch above. Philips is providing the smart light bulbs. Using the Hue system, you can screw in Philips Hue bulbs all around your house and control them right from your smartphone. Why is that different from a smart light switch? Because the Hue bulbs can change color – to 16 million different colors, in fact. You can program the lights to come on or off, switch colors, or use any third party apps that work with Hue to create dynamic lighting in your home. The LED bulbs also use less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and are supposed to last two years – and that’s if they’re left on constantly. Getting Hue into your home costs $200, which gets you the starter kit. You can get individual bulbs after that for $60.
Finally, a doorbell that makes everyone that comes to your house feel really, really uncomfortable. Halloween is going to be a hoot. With the VTech IS7100 series, you get two main pieces – a cordless home phone and a video doorbell. The doorbell has a camera and a microphone, so you can tell whether or not to pretend no one’s home just by looking at your phone. The cordless phone features a color display that can stream video from the doorbell or show stills. You can even get missed calls from your front door – the doorbell will snap a picture whenever someone rings the doorbell, so if you’re out, you can check to see if anyone came by when you get back. You can get two handsets with the doorbell for $120.