Home Automation Future and Present: WiFi Lightbulbs, Speakers and Doorlocks

Philips-Hue

Are you ready for robotic lawnmowers, rechargeable cars and intelligent fridges? Well, we’re not quite there yet. But our homes are a lot smarter than they’ve ever been before, and with the rise of home automation systems they’re only going to get smarter.

An automated home is all about saving your time; It’s about the energy savings you will see by regulating the operation of lights, water, heating and security; it’s about peace of mind of being able to lock the door from anywhere in the world; it’s about being able to have your favourite radio station and the lights turned on before you even reach the door. Basically, the benefits of an automated home are only limited by your imagination, and how deep your pockets are.

Sonos-Family

As you’d probably expect a fully automated home automation system, where all the functionality of home is completely unified into one system isn’t cheap. But the doesn’t mean us mere mortals can’t get pimp our homes with cheaper off-the-shelf technology.

Here’s a quick run-down of some clever home automated tech that we’ve come across over the last few months, there’s everything from clever lights to intelligent audio systems and even a futuristic door bell.

Doorbot

DoorBot is a doorbell with a difference; it connects to your home Wi-Fi and has an in-built camera. The doorbell also has speakers built in, so you can answer the call and speak to the person at the door, meaning that you can tell a courier to deliver a parcel round the back or a friend to come and join you in the back garden.
The system runs on a simple app that you can log into on a smartphone or tablet, with iPhone, iPad and Android compatibility.

The doorbell itself can be connected to your Wi-Fi network so it can communicate with your smartphone or tablet, and it will last for a year from a set of 4 AA batteries.

One awesome feature is compatibility with Lockitron. For those unfamiliar, Lockitron is a smart door lock that can be fitted to any door in your house, allowing you to remotely unlock it using a smartphone. With the DoorBot app you can tap a Lockitron button – if you have such a system built in to your home – after receiving the video call from somebody at your door, and remotely unlock it for them.

Find out more at Doorbot

Philips Hue: LED Wi-Fi Light Bulbs

Philip’s new LED Wi-Fi light bulbs could be the end of the lightswitch – and could herald the start of having to hunt for your mobile every time you want to switch the lights on.

Their new Wi-Fi LED Hue bulbs plug straight into a normal screw light socket, then there’s a control box that plugs into your broadband connection. The bulbs can then be controlled via a simple iPhone or iPad app, where you can choose the colours, program scenes, and fully automate your lighting all from within the app.

The app for Philips’ hue also features expert LightRecipes the firm claims can improve people’s lives, with four pre-programmed lighting settings based on Philips’ research around the biological effects that lighting has on the body.

These scenarios adjust bulbs to the optimum shade and brightness of white light to help you relax, read, concentrate or energise.

The firm is also developed advanced software for the system using a phone’s GPS sensors to automatically turn on the lights as you approaches your home, and turn them off again when you leave.

Find out more at Meet Hue

Sonos Multi-Room Music System

Sonos is one the world’s leading manufacturers of low-cost multi-room home audio. With either their PLAY:3 or PLAY:5 system you can daisy chain multiple speakers across your home and enjoy all your music streamed wirelessly from your computer, or from a plethora of radio stations and streaming services like Spotify and Deezer.

Once the speakers are in place, you can control them all from a simple PC desktop or Mac application. There’s also the option to use their free controller app on an iOS or Android devices – or, alternatively, Sonos offers their own touchscreen controller.

It really is as simple as that. Sonos also offers a range of accessories to take your Sonos system to the next level, including a new Soundbar for TVs, and a new sub for true audiophiles.

Find out more at Sonos

Hue light up my life – Philips lightbulb technology

I spent almost two hours talking about lightbulbs yesterday and didn’t yawn once. “Impossible” you cry, but oddly enough it’s true. Philips invited me into a tucked away Central London to meet “hue”, the latest and greatest in lightbulb technology.

Philips first started making lightbulbs 121 years ago and haven’t really stopped since then, so they know what they are talking about. When people ask what the most mind blowing gadget I’ve seen whilst working for Latest Gadgets my go to is normally “Samsung’s wifi enabled touchscreen fridge” but hue – an app controlled wifi-enabled lightbulb – is a strong contender for the top spot.

Hue

Hue utilises LED technology so it’s already more environmentally friendly and economical over the long term than conventional lightbulbs. But the real magic comes from how it leverages the power of LED technology and bends it to suit your ever changing whims.

In the box are three special hue bulbs and a bridge that plugs into your router. As the name suggests, hue enables you to change the colour of light in a room and the box playfully demonstrates this with a cute colour wheel on the side. If you flip this around the colour wheel walks you through the simple installation process. Plug in the bridge, screw in the lightbulbs (screw bulbs only although you can get screw to bayonet convertors for 99p delivered on eBay), download the app and you should be good to go.

The app is one both iOS and Android, although the Android version is missing one or two functions at launch. The app is a great example of “better living through smartphones” as it makes your lighting fully customisable from a device that is always in your pocket.

hue-app

So what can hue do? Isn’t it just an overly complicated dimmer switch? No not even close. As I said before, Philips have been in the lightbulb game for a long time and have a scary level of passion for the subject. Once you have hue up and running you can access over 16 million colours simply by sliding your finger across. You can also control each bulb individually and the system has been tested with up to 50 bulbs. So you can name the bulbs “Bedroom”, “Study” etc and have different settings in each one. If you have a room with multiple bulbs you can mix and match colours.

One very cool function is the ability to replicate the colour scheme from an image. So if you see a dusk or a dawn that you love the look of you can snap a photo with your smart phone and then drag your bulbs to various points on the image to try and replicate the colour mix. If you like the scene you’ve created you can save it. You can also set a timer so it comes on at a specific time. You can even use a daylight setting to create a light based alarm clock, with your bedroom gradually filling with light.

More practically it comes with a number of pre-loaded scenes that they’ve researched for certain scenarios. Want to read? They have the perfect light setting. Want to focus on a task. You’re covered. Fancy chilling out? That’s in there too. And you can tweak all these settings and create your own templates.

Hue-iPad

Hue is based on open standards and is more of a platform than a gadget and Philips are hoping developers use the technology in wild and wonderful ways. The Zigbee wireless mesh network technology working behind the scenes is industry standard and will play nicely with all your existing home automation kit. All the bulbs act as signal extenders so they should work throughout your house.

Philips have partnered with Apple for launch and hue with be available in Apple stores from today. The starter back is £179, with each additional bulb costing £45.

For more information head to www.meethue.com