These smart home must-haves will make you feel like you're in a Bond movie. They also make excellent Christmas gifts...
Fed up with spending all your free time doing the housework? Save some energy with a helping hand from these lastest hi-tech appliances.
These days nearly anything can be controlled by a smartphone. From feeding your dog to checking up on your house, and from opening the front door to controlling your fridge contents, is there nothing smart home tech can’t do? We’ve even got robots doing our housework and mowing the lawn.
It’s clear that home tech is smarter than ever – and genuinely useful. From voice-activated wake-up calls to automatic mops, sit back and let these home helpers take the strain.
From sleep trainers to health tracking, fridge cams to solar powered lanterns, these are the best new smart home devices out there right now.
1. BRAGGING RIGHTS
Dangling headphone wires can render star jumps and burpees near impossible. But Bragi’s Dash Pro earbuds are totally wireless – giving you a better way to work out to music!
2. GET SET, GO
Products designed purely to reduce the everyday stresses of technology? Sign us up, pronto!
From designer Benjamin Hubert and entrepreneur Asad Hamir comes Nolii, a tech accessories brand with a low-fuss, high-style approach. Its Set design will charge any device, meaning you don’t have to carry multiple chargers, batteries and adapters.
3. CHARGED UP
Swedish brand Marie Wolt is on a quest to banish unsightly wires and cables with wireless charging pads in stylish, marble-effect finishes. Good looks are backed by efficiency; charging speed is up to 1.4 times faster.
4. AT HOME
A missed-delivery note is a modern-day wind-up, but now you can answer the door remotely with one tap of your smartphone and the Video Doorbell 2. Designed by Ring, its crystal-clear 1080HD video lets you see, speak and grant access to visitors. And with sensors that alert you to movement, you can report suspicious activity too.
5. SOUND OUT
We’re big fans of state-of-the-art tech with vintage looks. Inside the PR/01 Speaker’s wood veneer finish and brass detailing, there’s Active Pression Reflex technology (optimal sound quality to you and me), wireless charging, wi-fi and Bluetooth, and a concealed drawer with charging points. We’re sold.
6. SWITCH OFF
Tired of the constant deluge of snaps, selfies and social media on your mobile? Designed for tech-wary minimalists, the Light Phone features just the function for making and receiving calls, neatly stored in a credit card-sized package. It can go for 20 days without charging too. Your sleep patterns (and other half) will thank you.
7. DOGGY DAY CARE
Suspicious your mutt is mucking around while you’re out? It’s time to find out as the Furbo dog camera launches in the UK – just download the app, tune in and watch your pooch. You can even get it to toss out a treat!
8. CHANGING SKIN
Speakers are a bit like TVs in the grand scheme of a room; a modern-day necessity but not always something you’d want on show. Hurrah then for the arrival of Flex Skins at Bluesound. Designed to fit snug on to the Pulse Flex speakers, the silicone casings come in white, black, deep blue or charcoal, making a design statement and offering added protection, too. Just pop them in the dishwasher to clean.
9. FREEZE FRAME
Samsung found the answer to making TV’s easier on the eye with The Frame – it’s a unit that disguises itself as a piece of art. Now Dutch design duo Scholten & bangs have launched three artworks for the telly (to be downloaded from the Samsung Art Store), plus a blue bezel to make the Frame look even less like a TV. Read more.
10. #POD GOALS
Don’t be fooled by the cute and cuddly appearance of the Podspeaker MiniPod Bluetooth MKII. Its shapely body actually means it produces cleaner, higher-quality sound (we’re told a lack of flat parallel sides eliminates nasty resonances). Still care more about the aesthetics? Then personalise with wood or aluminium hoops and supporting spikes.
11. SCOUT ROBOT VACUUM CLEANER
Dust balls hiding in corners? Pet hair in the rug? Put your feet up and let a robot vacuum cleaner suck everything up while you kick back or get out of the house. You can set it on a timer to clean while you’re out, and with super strong suction power it reliably finds every nook and cranny, guzzling up every speck of dust and strand of hair in its wake. And don’t worry – this robot can recognise furniture, obstacles and even stairs to avoid collisions or falls.
12. POINT OF VIEW
Home security gets a sleek, stylish update with the View camera from Hive by Swiss uber-designer Yves Behar. The lightweight model comes in Black & Brushed Copper or White & Champagne Gold. People-only detection settings will ensure no false alarms are triggered by the dog, while 130 degree field of view and live-streaming straight to your smartphone cover any security blind spots. Read more.
13. COMPACT CAM
The Smarter FridgeCam is set to help people reduce food waste by sending users a snapshot of the contents of their fridge so they don’t buy things they already have. It’ll even keep an eye on expiry dates.
14. ILLUMINATED IDEA
Leaving the radio on doesn’t cut it for making your home seem occupied while you’re on holiday; Hive’s Active Light colour-changing bulbs can be turned on and off via a smartphone for a convincing ‘we’re at home’ ploy. Or simply choose the perfect colour to suit your mood.
15. LOCK STOCK
Forgo rummaging for your keys in the rain with the Nuki smart lock – attached to your existing door lock, it can be controlled via smartphone to automatically unlock as you get home. Use the Nuki Bridge to connect it to the internet and you can control access from afar, saving that Ocado delivery from going soggy on your doorstep.
One of the most raved about lawnmowers, Viking’s iMow ticks a lot of boxes. It’s powered by Lithium-Ion battery technology so there are no emissions or fumes to worry about, it’s energy saving, can handle 45% inclines with ease and functions in the rain too, it’s built to be quiet, and it even acts as a fertiliser by shredding the grass clippings very finely (town as mulching) – also meaning there are no grass clippings to collect and dispose of. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.
17. BRING OUT THE BOTS
Can’t face vacuuming after work or ever? Not to worry – Ecovac’s Deebot Ozmo 610 can be controlled through an app, so it’ll embark on its Smart Cleaning Path before you’ve even set foot in the door. It acts as a mop too. Robots, eh?
18. LISTEN UP
Google’s Pixel Buds earphones really are the next step in life-changing tech. Just touch and hold the right earbud to activate Google Assistant on your Android phone for accessing music, setting birthday reminders or, for owners of Google’s Pixel phone, getting real-time translation for conversations in more than 40 languages – just the thing for those nosy moments on public transport.
19. FEEL THE FORCE
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, kids had just a stick of chalk and a pavement to play with. Not any more. Sure to get Star Wars super-fans going, the Droid Inventor Kit by LittleBits lets teens and tots build a custom R2-D2 from scratch using electronic blocks and a useful app. It can even be moved with just the wave of a hand. Shame it can’t be programmed to clean the whole house…
20. SNAP IT UP
Take an old-school Polaroid, inject it with all the filters of Instagram and the Polaroid Pop is born. Bringing a much-loved design into the digital world, it can connect to your smartphone to print your favourite snaps with the classic Polaroid border.
21. BRAAVA JET MOPPING ROBOT
Cleaning robots aren’t just for vacuuming, they mop too. The Braava Jet® Mopping Robot from iRobot has three cleaning modes; wet mopping, damp sweeping and dry vacuuming. Just fill the water reservoir, attach a cleaning pad and press clean.
22. MINI MARVEL
The Google Home Mini packs a lot into its doughnut frame. All wrapped up in a smooth fabric, the home assistance device offers surround sound and can even hear you over loud music, thanks to its powerful microphone. So you can quickly send a song request its way if you need to set swift change of mood…
23. THE RIGHT NOTE
BleepBleeps’ Benjamin Brushes are designed to get kids a little more excited about caring for their teeth. Stay with us. Thanks to an inbuilt, waterproof speaker at the base, tots can clean away to their favourite song (just download from the BleepBleeps app). Ta-da – that once torturous two minutes is now over in a flash.
24. CUT THE CORD
Big news on the home front: Dyson’s newest cord-free hoover is so efficient that the company will no longer be making its plug-in models. The streamlined Cyclone V10 boasts improved airflow, a 40 per cent larger bin and up to 60 minutes of run time. It can even adjust its performance to the altitude you’re hoovering at. Livingetc sampled it and can assure you it makes quick work of hoovering up a packet of Cheerios.
25. VOICE OPERATED ALARM CLOCK
Can’t be bothered to reach over and set your alarm? The new iC1 mini is an Alexa-enabled alarm clock that you can set using your voice – no more fiddling about trying to change the time. It also has a USB charging port so you can charge your phone at the same time.
26. IN SAFE HANDS
Running at dusk or dawn this summer needn’t be a safety issue. Just strap SeniTurn indicator lights to your hands before you set off, raise an arm to let others know you’re turning and they’ll automatically start flashing. Simple, effective, safe.
Thought digital health tracking was only for joggers? Think again. Garmin’s HRM-Swim connects to compatible devices and allows you to measure your heart rate while swimming laps in the pool.
Perfect for maintaining lawns up to 1000m2 in size, the Robomow will take care of the lawn so you can spend more time tending to the weeds and the flower beds. With built-in advanced technology it can seamlessly navigate around, it has a turbo setting for super speedy grass cutting (perfect for last-minute BBQs and summer entertaining), and it’s battery operated and therefore fume-free. A clever built-in anti-theft pin code and alarm system helps keep jealous friends and neighbours at bay.
29. SLEEP SMART
Bleep Bleeps’ pioneering bedtime companion, Suzy Snooze, promises to take your child through infancy and establish healthy sleeping habits from the word go. A smart night light, sleep trainer and baby monitor in one, it will teach your child when to wake up and emits soothing music to aid rest. Anything for a bit more peace and quiet, right?
30. NIGHT LIGHT
The three essentials of camping kit? Waterproof, portable and night-time-friendly, so LuminAID’s PackLite deserves its place in your rucksack. Just 2.5cm thick before inflation, this pocket-sized lantern charges via solar power or USB.
PackLite Nova camping light, £20, bearandbear.com
Known for it’s super suction abilities (it claims to have up to 60 times more powerful suction than other vacuum cleaners), it’s strong centrifugal force which separates dirt, dust and debris, it’s onboard digital camera that helps it map out the most efficient cleaning path, and it’s Auto-Charge function that makes it automatically charge itself when the battery gets low, before resuming cleaning, Samsung’s Powerbot has received rave reviews.
32. BREATHE EASY
Having the central heating on full whack can wreak havoc on your skin and fills the air with pollutants, making Falmec’s Bellaria purifier a must. With its E.ion system, the tabletop device mimics the air quality found by mountains. It doubles up as a rather chic LED lamp too.
33. INDEGO LAWNMOWER
Bosch’s latest Indego model has all the trimmings; time-saving, energy-saving and with a built-in mulching system (acts as a fertiliser), it operates all by itself, manoeuvres around obstacles autonomously and even goes back to charge on its own. Mowing your lawn doesn’t get any easier than this! Plus, it’s AUTO Calendar Function even suggests a schedule suited to your lawn size.