Consumer Technology

Five gadgets to make your home smarter

Bryant McInerney and Javier E. David
Robert Daly | Caiaimage | Getty Images

In today's technology-dependent society, houses are being enveloped by the next wave of technology: devices and mobile apps that aim to save energy, simplify everyday tasks and make the home "smarter."

Smart home solutions are an increasingly essential component for a growing number of households, with companies like Panasonic, Intel, Vivint and Google's Nest taking note. Just last month, U.S. water technology company Xylem said it would buy Sensus USA, a smart meter provider, for $1.7 billion in cash. CB Insights noted in a recent report that at least 67 private companies are operating in the smart home space, with a growing number of start-ups on track to pull in $526 million this year.

As a result, owning the next "big" thing has made smart home products an easy purchase for many consumers. A 2015 survey by icontrol showed that 50 percent of consumers say they intend to purchase at least one smart home product within the year. And Gartner Research recently predicted that the typical home could consist of up to 500 smart home devices by the year 2022.

CNBC recently took a look at the wide universe of smart home gadgets — which typically run the gamut from lawn maintenance systems to washing machines to solar panels — and found some cool compact versions.

By Bryant McInerney and CNBC's Javier E. David
Additional reporting by Tyler Eyre

Posted 3 Sept. 2016


The universal remote that does everything but cook

Savant device/home controller.
Source: Savant

Universal device controllers have been around for years, but Massachusetts-based Savant takes it to another level with the Savant Remote. Sleek and futuristic, the $499 device operates by either touch or voice, and is compatible with some 380,000 different entertainment devices. With a few add-ons, the Savant wirelessly controls room lighting, television, disc/BluRay players as well as Wi-Fi speakers such as Sonos (whose ability to surround a room in sound is belied by its compact frame).

One of the unit's catchiest hooks is its ability to preprogram — like a television set automatically tuning to the news in the morning, or dimming lighting and jazz playing in the evening — to create what the company calls "instant ambiance" in any room with just the tap of a button or a voice command.

'Both functional and fun'

Domgy, an artificial intelligence-powered dog.
Source: Roobo

In June, Chinese artificial intelligence start-up Roobo pulled back the curtain on an artificial intelligence-powered "pet robot" named Domgy. An affectionate anagram of the phrase "my dog," Domgy could be yanked from an episode of the classic "Jetsons" cartoon — even though its functions are more like robotic housekeeper Rosie than the family's pet dog Astro.

Domgy won't require long walks, feedings or bathroom breaks. The artificial intelligence powered pet has "smart-home" accouterments that include weather forecasts, remote control and guard-dog capabilities. Domgy has face recognition tech that can identify strangers, and even warns owners if an intruder enters the home. The pet's rechargeable battery lasts four to six hours and will automatically find its way to the charging station.

Anthony Chen, Roobo's marketing director, told CNBC recently that "Unlike a lot of consumer robots on the market, it's both functional and fun." Domgy is expected to be released this fall at a price to be determined.

A $240 light bulb?

LED smart bulb from Sony.
Source: Sony

Light bulbs have come a long way since the days of Thomas Edison, a fact Sony shows with its efficient new LED, which is smarter than the average bulb. This invention lights up a room as well as a user's ears: The bulb is a combination of a 2 watt Bluetooth controlled 3.0 speaker and an LED light bulb. It has the added bonus of connecting to smartphones and computers through a physical adapter, or controlled by a palm-sized controller to adjust brightness and volume.

Along with playing music, the speaker bulb has a timer function that can set off a mini light show for a morning wake-up call. With a range of over 190 colors and 32 brightness levels, the LED can change the mood in the room with just a few touches. The LED bulb is being sold for $239.99.


Energy Sense-ability

Energy monitor
MATTHEW GUILLORY | Sense

In a world that has become completely dependent on electronics — and can put a strain on the average homeowner's energy bill — Sense has found a way to help your wallet and the environment. Its new Energy Monitor connects wirelessly, tracks the energy output of your biggest energy hogs and recommends ways to save energy.

Sense's monitor is installed in a home's electric panel and is controlled by a mobile app. The system then creates a timeline of the user's appliances, which can all be viewed on a smartphone. The product retails for $299.


Battling the bulge with high tech scales

Body cardio scale by Withings.
Source: Withings

For those engaged in the never-ending battle against the bulge, Withings Body Cardio Scale has improved on the old bathroom scale. This upgraded version measures more than just weight — it gauges heart rate, body mass indexes, muscle mass, body fat percentages and cardiovascular health.

Like most smart home products, the Withings scale is Wi-Fi enabled and can be operated via iOS or Android, but comes with a rechargeable battery with a very long life. The scale costs $179.95.


Correction: An earlier version misstated the name of the company behind the Savant Remote.