The space-age home of tomorrow is available today, and we’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty to prove it. If your home isn’t already equipped with the items listed below, don’t be surprised if they become things that you encounter on a regular basis within the next few years.
1. THE SMART THERMOSTAT
Come in out of the cold to a cozy welcome, or cool a room to just the right temperature in the sweltering summer. Forgetful folks will love the ability to turn off the heat or AC remotely, even after leaving the house. The best smart thermostats will pay for themselves pretty quickly in energy costs.
2. EASY HOME SURVEILLANCE
Maybe you want to know what your cat does all day, or you suspect your neighbor has been swiping the newspaper off your doorstep. Whether inside or out, home surveillance technology has gotten a lot smarter in recent years. Today’s cameras can be operated remotely via smartphone and offer streaming video wherever you are. Translation: your own personal cat channel.
3. SMART LIGHTING
The right lighting can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Studies have shown that dim lighting can increase creativity, blue light increases alertness, and red or pink lights make it easier to sleep. With the latest smart bulbs, you can have it all at the tap of a button. Some programmable lighting systems will even let you automate a burglar-deterring lighting scheme for vacations to make it look like you’re at home.
4. ROBOTIC LAWN CARE
Some people enjoy fussing with their lawns. For the rest of us, there are robots. Smart sprinklers can be controlled from the comfort of your couch and are clever enough to shut off when it starts raining. Got a huge lawn? A robotic mower may be a worthwhile investment. Train the mower to recognize the size and shape of your turf, then head inside, get a glass of lemonade, and put your feet up while your new friend does all the work.
5. A BETTER BABY MONITOR
It’s 2016. There’s no reason you should be tethered to a base station on the living room coffee table while your little one sleeps. Today’s monitors offer high-resolution color video, two-way audio (for those moments when a soothing word can’t wait), and even wearable, watch-style screens.
6. SMART COOKWARE
For most people, the appeal of a crockpot is that it’s hands off. You dump in your ingredients, then walk away. If you like crockpot cooking for other reasons but would prefer to micro-manage your stew, we’ve got good news: There’s an app for that. The smart slow cookers of today and tomorrow allow home chefs to keep an eye on temperature and timing and even check the status of a dish from the next room, the office, or the car (but pull over first. Don’t cook and drive).
7. A VACUUM YOU CAN OPERATE FROM ANYWHERE
Just when you thought the robotic vacuum couldn’t get any better, newer models make it possible to run them or schedule cleanings (even when you’re far away) using a smartphone app. That means you get to come home to clean floors—and have one less to-do on your list after a long day at work.
8. A BATHROOM SCALE WORTH USING
Weight alone is no great indicator of health or fitness, and conventional bathroom scales are inconsistent at the best of times. If keeping an eye on your body stats is important to you, the best approach is comprehensive, measuring body fat percentage, muscle mass, water weight, and bone density. A good smart scale will deliver all these metrics and more, right to your phone or email.
9. AUTOMATED EVERYTHING
You can move your home into the future even if you’re not quite ready to spring for a houseful of space-age technology. Get yourself a smart switch, which can add remote-control capability to just about any device or appliance. Simply plug them in and go about your business.
10. SMARTER DISHWASHING
Dishwashers are great, but they could be even better. They could certainly be greener. Smart dishwashers optimize the flow of water, doing more with less. They require little or no detergent, and some even turn food waste into compost. As if that weren’t Earth-friendly enough, some models are even solar-powered.
11. SUPER HOME SECURITY
Put your mind at ease with the kind of security system a comic-book supervillain would love. The security systems of the future allow for remote monitoring and control of locks, cameras, and alarms. They’re also customizable and as fancy as you want them to be, from professional installation and monitoring to a few DIY stations throughout the house.
12. A COMMAND CENTER
Speaking of supervillains, what’s a high-tech home without a talking robotic assistant? Voice-activated command centers let you pull the digital strings of all your time-saving, anxiety-easing gadgets without getting off the couch. Psyched for the future yet? So are we.