You may have seen YouTube videos of super-techie hipsters connecting their coffee makers to their Twitter accounts and through a series of “if this then that” commands, magically getting their brew on. Pretty nifty trick, but how many of us (i.e., non-techie, non-hipster) will actually invest the time and energy required to set this up just to get a cup of joe? With the new, affordable smart plugs on the market, expect to see more and more not-so-hipster smart phone carriers controlling everything from their coffee makers to their floor lamps with a few taps on their phone.
One of the most fascinating technological devices introduced recently is the Nest Learning Thermostat – which is easily installed and controlled directly from a smartphone. It was introduced in October of 2011 and is already in its second iteration and has sold hundreds of thousands of units. Its popularity is easy to understand, given its elegant design, simplistic set-up and convenient controls. But beyond its “cool factor”, it’s also a very practical piece of technology. Not only does it allow the user to control the temperature of their home, while away from home, but simultaneously tracks energy consumption and adjust the temperature accordingly– which could mean significant savings throughout the year.
Nest is certainly not the only smart device (i.e., any device that communicates via Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G, etc.) for the home (though given it was developed by “the godfather” of the iPod, it’s probably one of the best designed). A new genre of smart devices is now available (or coming soon) that will allow you to turn any appliance in your home into a smart device – controllable by your smartphone and at a price-point that will make them affordable to everyone.
Belkin’s WeMo product line offers smart plugs, motion detectors, door locks and even baby monitors that can be controlled and tracked from smart phones. Several companies including: Zuli, Smart Power Strip and Plug Away have similar devices proposed (and funded) through Kickstarter that will be available soon. And while these plugs don’t yet offer complete control of any device, they do offer great possibility for the future.