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Get Connected with 5 Top Smart Home Gadgets from CES 2015

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this past January introduced a number of Internet of Things (IOT) devices for the home. While some folks might not be excited by smart coffee makers or tea pots, innovation was still at work.

For example, for the past couple of years, many smart devices (usually thermostat or other hub-based systems) have required some sort of subscription or account to the manufacturer’s website so you can access your device or its data. This trend is beginning to fade as more devices switch over to wireless Bluetooth systems to connect to an internet hub in your home that you access.

This means direct web access to your device(s) – no monolithic “smart home package” or pesky manufacturer subscription service. Instead, smaller, cheaper devices using less electricity work as modules together in a much larger system so you can control your entire home.

This is the lesson developers hope to take to the bank: modular components will let consumers design smart home systems that work for them. While this may or may not include smart coffee makers or tea pots, here are five of the top 5 home gadgets from this year’s CES that are on boil.

1) The LG Twin Wash is a full-size load washing machines on top, and a smaller, pull-out drawer washer on the bottom. You can wash a second smaller load simultaneously, allowing you to clean your laundry pile in about half the amount of time.

The two washing drums do not share water. If you’re interested but on a budget, the lower smaller washer can be purchase separately. It’s also compatible with other LG models. And of course, it comes with Wi-Fi and near field communication (NFC) capabilities so you can control it with an app.

2) The Whirlpool WED99HEDW HybridCare clothes dryer uses a heat pump. Whirlpool says it’s “designed to regenerate energy during the drying cycle to reduce energy consumption while providing dryer speed performance and flexibility.” Whirlpool says it uses 73% less energy. It’s also vent-less so it can be set up anywhere. Water from clothing is collected in a tank which can be reused.

3) Keen Home Smart Vent “We will identify sleepy devices and wake them up by adding intelligence.” Really? What’s more asleep than an air vent? Well, Keen Home Smart vents replace your home’s existing vents and allows you to set air flow controls to create comfort zones and increase efficiency with — yes, your smartphone.

Each “smart vent” is equipped with pressure and temperature sensors. Keep in mind that, while it might be tempting to run all the warm air into your room at night, you won’t save much energy if your thermostat keeps registering colder temperatures wherever it’s located. As yet, it only works with the Zigbee standard.

4. Sengled Snap Wouldn’t it be convenient, smart, and just danged nice if someone could take a low-energy LED spot light, mount on a video camera, microphone, and wireless Bluetooth transmitter, and then create a form that allows you to screw it into a standard floodlight socket. Yep. Sengled did just that. You get a home security LED setup with all that aforementioned stuff plus voice/action recognition software and HD 1080 real-time/recording/playback to your smartphone. For techno geeks, it’ s simple, elegant, and drool worthy.

5. iDevices Switch The smart outlet isn’t new, but making them more affordable and consumer friendly has been a challenge. The past few years have seen models that either replace the entire outlet fixture or use both outlets on a standard face-plate —all for about $100. iDevice’s Switch is just a simple rectangular cube that plugs into one outlet. It’s a $50 WiFi-enabled smart plug and customizable nightlight. Controlled by your smartphone, it is compatible with to Apple’s HomeKit system (still in development).

Still in the pipe…

HomeKit is a framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories that created a lot of buzz at CES this year. While not yet available, it will give its competitors a good run for value, price, and ease of use. Since HomeKit-compatible devices run on Bluetooth Low Energy, there’s no need for a hub — although hubs can connect to it.

This also means you can talk to Siri using a single phrase that will trigger multiple gadgets. For instance, you can say, “I’m home,” and doors unlock, lights come on, ventilation fans start, and — I suppose if you want — a coffee maker starts as well.

Did you see anything at CES 2015 that you need for your smart home? Share with us in the comments!


Vernon Trollinger is a writer with a background in home improvement, electronics, fiction writing, and archaeology. He now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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