Smart Homes making Headlines

From an entire community of connected smart homes working together as one, to a sensor that makes existing ‘smart’ home features look like a whole lot of work, and some of the very coolest gadgets from IFA 2019, we take a look at smart homes in the news this year.

Feast your eyes on the very latest smart home tech from IFA 2019

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The world’s favorite trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances was held recently in Berlin, and lovers of all things smart home related were in for a real treat!

Here are some of the highlights:

The Trifo Max home surveillance robot vacuum:

Because why can’t a robot vacuum act as a security guard too?

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Thanks to its single wide-angle camera at the top, and a built-in two-way speaker and mic system below, the Trifo Max can alert you to intruders in the home. It’s also one hell of a vacuum, boasting a 3000Pa suction level at the highest setting.

The Philips Hue Filament collection:

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Fans of the industrial look when it comes to interior design will adore these Edison-style bulbs with a smart twist – they’re LED, can be turned up or down and controlled via your smartphone, and deliver an impressive 550 lumens at full power.

The Samsung AirDresser:

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At first glance, this is just another closet – but a magical secret waits within! Put your clothes in dirty – and the AirDresser uses a JetAir system to sanitize, deodorize, and steam dry your garments just like your own personal dry cleaners!

Check out this entire neighborhood of connected smart homes in Reynolds Landing, Birmingham, Alabama

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A kind of living laboratory, this neighborhood of 62 smart homes was developed as a way to envision the future of housing, and see how larger communities of connected smart homes might function as a unit.

Developed by utility company Alabama Power in partnership with homebuilder Signature Homes, as well as researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Electric Power Research Institute, they’re part of an experiment in imagining what homes will look like by the year 2040.

Not only are the houses themselves designed to be 35% more efficient than standard new homes in the area, the entire community is powered by a solar microgrid located a mile down the road, with a natural gas powered generator to act as backup.

Homes are powered by a microgrid located about a mile down the road

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Alabama’s extreme climate means that for most households, heating and cooling are the biggest energy drains. For this reason, each home at Reynolds Landing features a smart system that allows homeowners to control the temperature across multiple zones in their home, so rooms which aren’t used often don’t end up wasting energy.

Other smart features include voice-activated security, Alexa smart speakers, and interconnected kitchen appliances, allowing homeowners to control virtually everything remotely. While the houses look like any other in the area, and cost about the same, that’s where the similarities end.

As part of the research effort, the residents voluntarily share anonymized data on their energy usage with Alabama Power, and meet us with the research team once a month to share their experiences, likes and dislikes.

‘RoomMe’ sensor aims to make the smart home experience effortless

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While it might appear to work by magic, the RoomMe smart personal location sensor – which adjusts the settings in a room to your personal preferences just because you’ve entered it – is actually powered by Bluetooth technology.

It doesn’t just know that someone has entered a room, but exactly who has entered, who’s already there, and which people’s settings take preference over the others – a parent’s over a child’s, for example.

It does this by connecting with a device we’ve all got on us the majority of the time anyway – our smartphone. The sensor sits on the ceiling above each room entrance, and when you walk beneath it, connects to the RoomMe app on your phone.

It also allows for an individual to be the ‘master’ of a certain room – so while your child’s settings will take lower priority than yours in the living room, for example, their settings will take preference in their own bedroom.

RoomMe, which was created by Oren Kotlicki, the founder and CEO at Intellithings, actually began life as a successful Indiegogo campaign. Currently, the system works with a host of other smart products including Philips Hue and LIFX lighting, Ecobee and Sensibo thermostats, Sonos and Bose speakers, as well as Wink, HomeKit, Z-Wave and Zigbee, with many more in the pipeline.

Actually having to lift a finger to your smartphone screen or open your mouth to issue a voice command to a smart speaker? So 2018!