Gadgetmakers have a knack for making big, long-term promises about the advent of the so-called smart home. But one of the most potent applications is also the most basic: how to make your home safer. Here’s a closer look at how the smart home can do so.
Secure everyday tasks
Smart ovens made by GE and Nest’s smoke alarm now work together to automatically turn off the oven if, for example, smoke is detected.
Wi-fi-compatible plugs like the Belkin Wemo Switch aim to eliminate panic about leaving the iron plugged in. You can see what’s turned on and switch off appliances via its phone app.
Sensors that plug into your home’s electricity system, like the Sense, are meant to lower utility bills. They can also alert you if you’ve accidentally left an appliance running.
Keep intruders out
Sensors like those made by Samsung SmartThings connect to a central hub and send alerts to your phone if a door or window is unexpectedly opened.
An update on the hardware-store standby, Philips Hue lights are programmable even from a distance to make it look like you’re home when you’re not.
Monitor your home
Gadgets like the Infant Optics DXR-8 make it easier to keep an eye on your infant no matter where you are in the house. The camera streams video to a tiny portable screen.
Nest and Piper cameras provide a live feed of areas inside or outside the home when you’re away. These surveillance devices can send notifications to your phone when motion is detected as well.
Doorbell systems like SkyBell monitor what’s happening near your front door, allowing you to see visitors via a built-in camera and speak to them whether you’re home or not.
The Nest Protect not only sends alerts to your phone during an emergency but also self-tests its sensors to make sure they’re always functional.
Sold by D-Link, these sensors ping your phone if moisture or puddles are detected where they shouldn’t be, like on the floor near a washing machine.
Gadgets like the Foobot can detect potentially harmful agents found in mold, paints and coatings as well as other substances in the home. Foobot’s app gives your home an air-quality score based on its findings.
High-tech door locks like those made by Kwikset and August don’t necessarily replace keys, but they can be unlocked via a mobile device.
This appears in the February 27, 2017 issue of TIME.
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