First we had smartphones, then smartwatches and now even our homes are becoming smart.
While creating a truly smart home usually requires planning ahead before construction commences, thanks to a range of innovative consumer products it’s possible to get many of the benefits of a smart home without spending a fortune rewiring your existing home or replacing your existing appliances.
These are some of the best gadgets to upgrade your home without a second home loan, some of which can save you money at the same time.
Avea Elgato bulbs
Avea’s smart light bulbs connect to an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch directly using Bluetooth – rather than via a separate smart hub or gateway like some smart bulbs – and can be set to any colour the user likes.
Alternatively, the user can choose from a selection of built-in colour schemes. Multiple bulbs can be controlled from a single device and set to work together or individually. The 7W LED bulbs can also be set to operate like an alarm, gradually illuminating a room like an artificial sunrise.
Avea’s Elgato bulbs aren’t the only smart bulbs available locally but they’re the easiest to use. R700
Vox Guardian Eye
Improved home security is one of the obvious benefits of making a home smarter. South African telecoms company Vox offers a range of internet protocol (IP) cameras that connect to a home Wi-Fi network and allow users to monitor a property remotely from most major smartphones and tablet computers.
Users can use the built-in motion sensors to trigger custom alerts and can send or receive audio to or from individual cameras. There are indoor- and outdoor-camera models available, setup is a breeze and Vox delivers countrywide. From R2200
The Sensibo is a small, round device that connects any air conditioner with a remote control to the internet. Once fitted to an air conditioner the Sensibo can be controlled using a mobile app, making it possible to turn heating or cooling on and off from afar, according to a predefined schedule, or automatically based on usage patterns.
It uses the same infrared commands as the air conditioner’s remote control, which also means it works straight out of the box and doesn’t require elaborate installation, and multiple units can be used to control multiple air conditioners. R2 000
Aerobie Aeropress Coffee Maker
Designed by the same aeronautical engineer who made the Frisbee-like Aerobie flying disc, the Aeropress is a high-tech coffee maker with a low-tech appearance. A cross between a plunger and an espresso machine the Aeropress works rather like a large syringe. Coffee grounds are steeped in hot water briefly before the water is forced through the device using only elbow grease. Because it doesn’t require electricity, the Aeropress is as good at home as it is on a camping trip and has garnered cult status among coffee connoisseurs and technology aficionados alike. R550
It may resemble a high-tech flask, but the Amazon Echo is actually a voice-controlled speaker that plays well with other internet-of-things (IoT) devices like Belkin’s WeMo products. It connects to a home network using Wi-Fi and to mobile devices or other audio sources using Bluetooth.
But the Echo isn’t only for listening to music, thanks to its Alexa voice assistant – Amazon’s equivalent of Google Voice or Siri – users can ask it for news, weather information, or just about anything else you can find online and its seven microphones mean it should pick up a user’s voice wherever they are in the room. R3 000