Anyone remember Rosie, the robotic housekeeper who petered around The Jetsons' smart home in the 1960s?
“I swear on my mother's rechargeable batteries,” she once joked, when asked by Judy Jetson to keep a secret.
While we’re still a few years away from a domesticated humanoid robot that can wash our dishes and make our beds, today’s smart home products are designed to make your living space safer, more energy efficient, and easier to maintain.
The following is a look at a few smart ways to bump up your home’s IQ. Some are just debuting now while others may not be out until the end of the year.
Go With the Flow
Flo by Moen Shutoff might be considered a security system for your home’s water supply.
It’s a smart valve that proactively identifies problems before they become a headache – such as a pipe bursting or a child leaving a tap running – and then automatically turns off the water supply before notifying you on an app, anywhere you may be in the world.
This Wi-Fi connected device detects flow rate, temperature and pressure, and also allows you to better understand your home’s water usage (think: teenagers taking excessively long showers or a toilet running in a spare bathroom) to help reduce costs.
Flo is now available for $699, and there are no monthly fees. Plus, home insurance providers may give you a discount of you have it installed (my home insurance company told me I’d get a 10 percent discount, for instance).
Speaking of water, your next smart speaker may be embedded in your shower head.
As shown at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Kohler is readying its Moxie Showerhead, which has an Alexa smart assistant at your beck and call, and a speaker for listening to “her.”
While you’re getting ready for work, ask to play your morning music playlist, a favourite podcast or your local radio stations to hear what’s happening in the city. Or ask how long it will take to get to work (and will give you an accurate look at the roads by taking traffic into account), order more shampoo to your Amazon account, or use your voice to call up calendar appointments you need to know about.
Available “sometime in 2020,” this detachable speaker -- which charges wirelessly on a cordless dock -- should be about $229 CDN. Battery life tops 5 hours between charges. And yes, it’s waterproof with its 1PX67 rating.
Virtual House Calls
Anyone remember the “Tricorder” from Star Trek, a handheld medical device that can scan a person and diagnose diseases and other ailments?
While science fiction, the MedWand – due out later this year for $599 (pending FDA/Health Canada approval) – may be the next best thing.
About the size of a computer mouse, MedWand is a portable diagnostic tool that lets a physician remotely assess a patient. That is, you can be sick in bed, or live in a remote town, but a doctor could virtually scan you via this gadget you own, when connected to your computer’s USB port. The second generation is said to be wireless.
How does it work? This telemedicine solution has 10 different scopes and sensors, including a stethoscope (for lung exams), an otoscope (for ear exams), an ophthalmoscope (eye exams), a dermatoscope (for skins exams), a throat illuminator, a pulse odometer (to help measure heart respiratory rates), a thermometer (that doesn’t require skin contact), blood pressure monitor, electrocardiogram, and more.
Available now, the Canadian-invented townew may look like an ordinary kitchen or bathroom trashcan, but it has a couple of tricks up its sleeve.
For one, when you’ve filled the bag inside with trash, press and hold a button on the outside and it will use a bit of heat to seal the bag for you. Lift it up to toss it into a garbage bin or down an apartment’s trash chute, and the $169 townew will automatically get the next bag ready for you (it stores excess bags in the ring under the lid).
Each ring holds 25 bags; refill rings are $5 apiece (a 6-pack for $40). Super smart.
Like many other trashcans, the battery-powered townew (available in white or teal) also has an infrared sensor in front that detects your presence to the lid will open, handsfree.
Beauty and Wellness, Too
You might not want your mirror to criticize your skin conditions, but if you believe information (not ignorance) is bliss, the upcoming HiMirror Slide is a smart mirror that can scan your face and analyze skin issues (including dark circles, red spots, fine lines, and so on) and give you personalized tips and product recommendations.
Out this spring for $169, this mirror also lets you watch videos, such as makeup tutorials on YouTube, and copy techniques in the 8-inch mirror, plus the aptly named Slide features slideable panels and a foldable stand that can be rotated between portrait and landscape view.
HiMirror Slide has a built-in face light and is Alexa-powered, so you can use your voice to access weather, stream music, hear the news, and so on as you get ready.
Finally, there’s some delicious tech coming for the outside, too. Whether you’re new to grilling or a seasoned expert, the Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub is a first-of-its kind device that turns any grill into a smart grill. After downloading the Weber Connect mobile app, simply insert the meat probes into your food and they’ll wirelessly show you real-time info on the app, such as grill temperature and desired doneness of your meat.
But you’ll also receive notifications on the app that give step-by-step instructions from grill set-up to when to flip your food or change the temperature, along with tips and techniques to perfecting your meal. Weber Connect will be available this spring for $169.