Consumer technology has come a long way in the past two decades. In 1995, it wasn’t uncommon for homes to have just a single television set, a corded landline phone, and no computers. But in 2015, the functions of televisions, phones, and computers are quickly blending together into all-in-one smartphones and tablets.
Of course, those items are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the technological revolution that has occurred in people’s living rooms during the past 20 years. “Smart homes” previously existed only in the realm of science fiction (shout out to Disney Channel’s Smart House), but recent advances in consumer tech, combined with ubiquitous home networking, have made such homes a reality for many homeowners.
While having a home that anticipates your every move and accommodates your every whim may be a few decades off, converting your home into a high-tech wonderland is cheaper and easier than ever.
Check out Blindster’s list of the essential gadgets that will tomorrow-proof your home and make you feel like you’re truly living in the future:
- Dual-band wireless router
Wireless networks have been commonplace in homes for more than a decade, but only in recent years have they started bursting at the seams due to ever-increasing amounts of data being transmitted. It wasn’t that long ago when wireless networks were primarily used to connect laptops and desktops to the Internet, but now they connect everything from televisions and Blu-ray players to cable boxes and smartphones.
Needless to say, all of those extra devices put a significant strain on most wireless networks. Dual-band wireless routers are designed to double the amount of bandwidth and range on a home wireless network, meaning they can handle a significant larger amount of gadgets all connected at the same time. Such robust routers are a must-have item for families with multiple internet-capable devices, and they also serve as the central hub for every other “smart” device in the home.
- Smart thermostat
Smart thermostats are one of those gadgets that most homeowners never realized they need— until they get one in their home.
In addition to being programmable, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely via your smartphone or computer, can automatically adjust themselves based on indoor humidity, can adjust the temperature in your home based on your daily, weekly, or monthly schedule, and can provide you with detailed information regarding your home’s average temperature and energy usage, making them ideal for both techies and homeowners who want to be more eco-friendly.
- Smart door locks
Ever wished you could operate your front door lock remotely the same way you lock and unlock your car door? If you’ve ever carried an arm load of groceries to the front door and had to fuss with your keys just to get inside, the answer is almost certainly yes. I mean who actually wants to make two trips?
In addition to providing keyless entry, smart door locks can also be operated via fingerprints, smartphones, smartwatches and voice recognition. Many models also have 24/7 tech support, which means a quick phone call is the difference between being locked out of your home for hours and being safely indoors within minutes.
And if you’re less than trusting of high-tech locks, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that these locks use proprietary wireless technology, making them far more secure than other wireless devices. Finally, should your home experience a power outage, smart locks can still be operated the old fashion way—with a standard key and deadbolt.
- Battery backup systems
Having a home full of high-tech gadgets won’t do you much good if you experience a power outage. Because more and more devices have internal memory and storage, including DVRs, routers, modems, and even smart thermostats, losing power even briefly can cause a major headache, as you may have to spend hours reconfiguring lost settings, reentering passwords, and dealing with tech support.
To save yourself some hassle, consider purchasing a battery backup system and plug all of your most important gadgets into it, including all of your home networking items and any home office equipment. Battery backup systems provide a wide range of emergency power, which can range from 15 minutes to several hours depending on the cost and size of the device. Even in a worst case scenario where you lose power for several hours, having a battery backup system gives you enough time to save your data and properly shut down your devices to avoid potential damage.
- Smart washer and dryer
Since their introduction to the consumer market many decades ago, electronic washers and dryers saw little innovation over the ensuing years. But in recent years, these devices have become the beneficiaries of the tech revolution that’s changing virtually every electronic item in modern homes.
Smart washers and dryers have one major benefit over traditional washers and dryers—they can send alerts to your smartphone, tablet, or email when your clothes are clean and dry. If you live in a multi-story home and your laundry room is on another level or in the basement, it may be difficult to hear a standard buzzer or alarm when your clothes are ready. But a digital alert means you’ll not only know when your laundry is ready to be moved over or collected, you’ll also get a reminder.
In addition to their internet connectivity, smart washers and dryers are often highly energy efficient and boast features like storage areas for detergent and fabric softener, advanced controls to prevent clothes from shrinking or fading, and improved cleaning/faster drying capabilities.