Some of the most innovative home automation involves appliances. From cooking to cleaning to taking a bath, automated appliances have long been a vision of the future. While we haven't quite reached the age of robot maids and flying cars, you might be surprised at just what is available on the market. Broken down across areas including cooking, cleaning, and the bathroom - here are some of our favorite ideas.
CES 2015 was a great showcase for home automation, specifically kitchens of the future. Whirlpool began by offering the automated, connected cooktop and has been working to expand into an entire smart kitchen. As a fully integrated system, the refrigerator can track groceries and suggest recipes based on upcoming expiration dates. The connected cooktop allows for easy food management, plus integrated chat and social features to share the experience with others far away. Time management is made easy with devices that tell when food is cooked or burning too. If an entire kitchen is a little too much for your home, try these ala carte options to experience as few or as many automated appliances as you want.
Smart coffee makers may be the most welcome idea in many morning routines. We've moved beyond the giant coffee pot with a timer. Now you can choose via smartphone to create a custom macchiato of differing strength, size, and flavor - all depending on your mood. Check out innovations like Scanomat for the cutting edge.
Faucets and Water
Water purification rises in importance as a health-conscious member of society. Filtering out lead and other particulates seems like a no-brainer. Add the environmental benefits of reduced waste from plastic bottles too. The latest designs in purified water include smart faucets, cloud-based particulate monitoring, and a keen sense of fashion (check out Zuvo on IndieGogo.)
So what exactly is an automated refrigerator? Think of a wi-fi enabled food storage device with a handy touchscreen. The idea is that you can keep track of shopping lists and look up recipes instantly. For the advanced food organizer, you can even keep track of expiration dates. No matter what lists you choose, these automated devices are designed to sync to your smartphone or tablet. An example is how Samsung has designed their new series to sync to Evernote. Also handy for a late night snack-and-Facebook session.
Not everyone is blessed with intuitive saute skills. Sometimes it's easy to forget to turn off the oven. For reasons like this and more, smart cooking appliances are growing in popularity. Allowing the user to download instructions via Wi-Fi, these cooking helpers get the recipe right the first time.
Some of our favorites include the Philips HomeCooker neXt is designed to cook food at the perfect temperature and duration to let you leave the kitchen for a while. For a more hands-on experience, try the Pantelligent smart frying pan. The pan handle communicates wirelessly with your smartphone to send real-time updates on temperature and duration for chosen recipes.
Rice cookers are designed to simplify the preparation of a basic staple for many meals. Now rice gets even more advanced - with wireless RFID hardware that lets you cook from the cloud. Storing cloud based recipes and allowing you to set rice type, cooking time, and other - the Panasonic SR-SX2 is the latest in automated cooking.
If you want to take the cooking out of the kitchen, try this new grill automating device. Using a single, affordable probe that connects to the grill you can manage cooking from your smart phone. The iGrillmini is a smart thermometer using Smart LED technology to alert your iPhone when your food is cooked and ready.
Following the designs of the ever popular Roomba, semi-autonomous floor cleaning designs continue to innovate. Now there are multiple options available including items like hardwood and tile floor cleaners, and of course - smartphone integrated, Wi-Fi and BlueTooth enabled options to begin the chores while you are away from home.
Washers & Dryers
Starting out small with laundromats that accepted cards instead of coins, smart-laundry technology has continued to evolve. Wi-Fi washing machines and dryers can let you know the status of your clothes cycle straight from your smartphone. Adjust settings remotely like length of wash and temperature too. Unfortunately, there is still no way to switch loads to the dryer while not at home.
Tub & Spa
How many people have started a bath, and then forgotten the faucet was running? What about running a tub full of water that's too hot or too cold to jump in? These common problems are solved with long-awaited innovations in smart-tub technology. With products like the Smart Hydro from iHouse, you can remotely set temperature and fill commands from your convenient tablet. (There is also an option to auto-set your own bath essence, but more on that later.) One of the best features is the self-cleaning option. With a touch of the button, you can do the housework without being home. Also check out many of the offerings in automated spas and showers.
Pet Care Automation
Pet doors let your companion in, but can also provide access to your neighbor's cat or other local wildlife. Without having to worry about bulky collar sensors, program your door to recognize your cat via it's microchip with the Sure Flap cat door.
Food and Water
Most pets are always looking for their next meal or treat. Many owners have fallen for puppy dog eyes and not realized that a housemate had already given the dog dinner before you got home. Sometimes its simply a matter of a furred companion who likes to overeat. Use automated feeders to control and monitor feedings for better diet control. Products like Petnet can automate schedules and offering food insights in times, portion, and more.
Pawport offers remote treat dispensing with two-way audio so you can communicate from afar. Nibbles works in much the same way, but offers built in camera options so you can watch your animal in action.
If you want to take things up a notch, try CleverPet. Going beyond simple treat dispensing, this device can entertain and train your pet by rewarding good behavior. The pet training and treat system automatically teaches your dog new tricks through a light-and-button system. The interactive option keeps your pet amused while you are away.
A runaway pet is every owner's worst nightmare. The outside world is rarely a friendly place for an unsupervised animal, which is why GPS location devices are such a great idea. A GPS device on your animal's collar can alert you via cell phone or email if your pet strays beyond the household borders. The Spotlight for dogs includes a Rescue button that allows a found pet to be connected with owners faster.