Self-driving cars, automated restaurants, little talking boxes that fulfill your every command - technology is quickly becoming as intelligent as the people who are making these things possible.
But out of all the smart technology that has recently hit the consumer marketplace, none seems to be as practical (or as readily available) as the multitude of smart devices for home.
Nowadays, smart home products exist for nearly any crucial task in your home. From maintaining your lawn or garden to controlling the indoor climate or managing certain lights or appliances, you can run your home the way you want to, even when you're not there.
But the best news of all? Smart home technology isn't just for mansions and movie stars. Granted, transforming every square foot of your house into a smart home isn't cheap. But if you don't want to bust your bank account with a full-blown home automation machine, a few basic smart home devices can boost your home's intelligence by quite a few points:
Mood lighting, work lighting, bright lights - Hue delivers it all. You can program your Hue lights to turn on or off at certain times of the day, change colors, or flash when you get an email or social media notification. You can also program your lights to interact with other apps or smart devices, like Amazon's Alexa, or create your own disco light show to fascinate your party guests. Starter kits usually cost about $70.
No one likes parting ways with a warm, comfy bed in the early morning hours, but waking up to a fresh pot of heavenly coffee could make the separation a little more palatable. You can program your Wemo Mr. Coffee Brewer to start perking before your alarm signals the end to sweet dreams, which might make you think twice about hitting that snooze button. Score one for about $150.
Never worry about forgetting to close your garage door again. Garageio lets you control your garage portal from anywhere. But what sets Garageio apart from other garage door geniuses is its soon-to-roll out secure delivery feature. Garageio can monitor that a long-awaited package is about to arrive, open the door for the delivery person, and close the door once the package is safely inside your garage. You can get yours starting at $199.
Wireless thermostats have been around for quite a while, but the Ecobee still maintains a top position among smart home devices due to its sleek design, user-friendly interface, unwavering reliability, and value for the average consumer.
Paying to heat and cool rooms when you aren't even home can get expensive, but you don't always realize it until you stop wasting energy and see the difference on your next bill. Ecobee helps you do just that, but without you having to remember to manually adjust your thermostat each time you leave. It can sense when you're not in your home, and can adjust the temperature accordingly, just in case you forget to tell it to. The Ecobee starts at $249, and qualifies for energy rebates.
If you're on your third set of house keys this year, you could already have paid for Lockitron compared to what you would have a paid a locksmith to help you back into your house. Starting at $99, the Lockitron app provides you (and whomever else you designate) with keyless entry. It can also sense when you leave via geolocation technology, and lock up in case you forget to.