Illustration by Diego Patiño
The core of a smart home is the ability to monitor and remotely control power, lighting, and security. That means replacing–or upgrading–everyday household fixtures, such as outlets and bulbs, and installing environmental sensors that will let you monitor what happens around the house.
Coming Soon: Voice Control
Clever DIYers have rigged smart homes to respond to commands from Siri and other voice assistants. Apple made the connection official. Starting this spring, manufacturers can now use Apple’s HomeKit system to make their products react to commands dictated to an iPhone. For instance, “Siri, I’m heading home” could turn on lights, adjust the temperature, and start the stereo.
This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Popular Science as part of our Smart Homes feature. Click here to read more about how to make your home intelligent.
Lightbulb: Cree Connected LED
Cree eliminated the heat sink typical of most LEDs, cooling its bulbs through a series of vents. Its design gives the bulb an omnidirectional shine–just like its incandescent forebearers. $15
Light Switch: Belkin WeMo Light Switch
Until there’s a smart-bulb equivalent for every light, connected switches imbue otherwise dumb fixtures with brains. The app also lets you sync lights with sunrise and sunset. $50
Water Sensor: Belkin WeMo Water
This sensor monitors an entire house’s water usage from a single point. When clamped onto a pipe, a pressure sensor detects subtle shifts–from an open faucet to a costly leak. Price not set
Security Camera: Dropcam Pro
With a 130-degree field of view, 8x zoom, and infrared night vision, the Dropcam Pro’s unblinking eye allows you to peek inside your home without racing to the scene. $199
Doors And Windows: SmartSense Multi Sensor
A pair of mounted magnets can tell whether doors, windows, or even mailboxes are open. The sensor can also cue common tasks, like killing the AC if you open a window. $54
Door Lock: August Smart Lock
The clever kit fits over an existing deadbolt, so there’s no need to replace the entire lockset. Once installed, you can issue guests digital keys or set the lock to open as you approach. $250
Electrical Socket: Quirky+GE Outlink
Disguised as an everyday pair of outlets, the socket has one smart and one dumb receptacle. That means you can remotely kill power to the coffeepot without tripping the fridge. $50
Environment: Quirky+GE Spotter UNIQ
The Spotter senses up to six environmental cues: motion, vibration, sound, temperature, humidity, and light. It can turn on hall lights as you approach or alert you when the dryer stops. From $70
Smoke And CO Alarm: First Alert ZCOMBO
The ZCOMBO alarm not only sends emergency alerts, it triggers other devices in your network. For example, during a fire it can trip the lights so you can find your way out. $50