11 Smart Home Innovations to Turn Your House into the Jetsons' Pad

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Houses are lagging behind in the smart-thing race. Sure, there's Nest if you need remote thermostat control of your home to make sure the people in it aren't warm or comfortable unless you're there, but what else is smart about today’s dumb brick and slate cubes?

Think "smart home" and you probably think of some 1950s footage promising to make things easy for the housewife by having a robot know how to hold a frying pan in its adapted claw and a chute going from the fridge to the cooker to ease the transfer of sausages.

But that hasn't happened. Robots are still rubbish, so much so that you wouldn't even trust one to sort the recycling reliably in 2015 let alone prepare a meal for human consumption.

So what actual, real, properly working and perhaps even beneficial-to-you smart home innovations are available now, to bring some background intelligence to the average septuagenarian two-bed? What can you get from Argos to internet-of-things-up your life? And what's coming in the second wave of "internet of things" home gadgets?

1) Philips Hue Lights

Yes, they're quite a bit more expensive than normal lights, coming in at £40 a pop, but that's to be expected when it comes to favouring smart things over the dumb. The killer selling point is that you can turn these efficient bulbs off when you're away from home, potentially saving a chunk of change over their lifetime. When the electricity of the future is 1,000 times more expensive, it might pay for itself.

2) NEST Learning Thermostat

We have to include the current poster boy of home automation, even if the benefits of being able to fiddle with your home heating while at work are quite hard to understand. At least putting it on your wall to replace that 1960s, painted-over, yellowing Honeywell will add a futuristic gleam to one corner of the kitchen.

3) Energy Egg

How amazing would it be to have your lights turn on automatically when you enter a room, then turn off by themselves when you leave? Very! Or at least quite. Until it gets annoying being second-guessed by a sensor. These can be picked up for around £20, adding a bit of USS Enterprise to your home on the cheap.

4) Moti Kinetic Lamps

This is a design concept you can actually buy, one that goes so much further down the road of futurism than current-gen smart home things. The kinetic lamp inflates and deflates when it senses movement, filling up quicker when there's more activity in the room and gently pulsating when there's less going on. Probably not that useful, to be fair, but easier to keep alive than a bonsai tree.

5) Belkin WeMo Switch

If you want a bit more control over things going on and off on their own and seemingly by magic, get one of these £40 dongles. It's an update of the ancient concept of the timer plug that annoying people used to use to turn their washing machines on at night for cheap electricity, only now it's Wi-Fi enabled so you can switch anything on from anywhere.

Which sounds amazing, until you realise that being able to boil your home kettle from the office isn't really of much use.

6) Yale Keyless Digital Door Lock

If you fancy replacing the entire lock of your door, this is quite a smart thing. It means you can unlock your door with a PIN number, adding a bit of being-at-work excitement to your home life. It's cleverest little feature is the option to create a guest PIN, letting you grant temporary access to tradesmen and people who are only short-term friends.

7) Google's Smart Knob

Google may be about to take things further. A recent patent was described as being a "smart door knob" by tech sites, appearing to show a plan to use the access point as a launchpad for a raft of automated smart features. It wants to solve the problem of competing smart standards, using the door knob as a common starting point for home entry and exit times and layering features atop this base. If it knows when you leave for work, it knows when to wake you up and to turn everything off.

8) Samsung SmartCam HD Pro

The SNH-P-6410 models captures footage at 1080p resolution, so you ought to get a really good look at the scumbag trying to crowbar the Nest off the wall of your minimalist studio. There's an app with it, of course, so you can be out and about while receiving notifications that your cat's just entered the living room and triggered the motion detector.

9) Anova Precision Cooker

A cooker using the modern "sous vide" format to essentially boil all your stuff to perfection. The smartest thing about it is Bluetooth control, so you can turn your cooker on when only quite near it -- a massive improvement over the requirement to be within actual touching distance that the cookers of the previous century demanded.

10) AutoVoice DIY voice commands

Sadly, due to the lack of recognised standards and the fact that not even Samsung can get our fridges to put cheese straight into our mouths, the DIY approach is the best way of getting a futurist feel right now. Android app AutoVoice can bridge the gap between devices, enhancing companion tools Tasker and Google Now to let them trigger numerous custom actions. It’s a bit hardcore, but that’s the current level home automation is at -- for extreme tinkerers.

11) Ring Internet Door Bell

Sadly, though, home automation remains the realm of the enthusiast, amid a raft of competing standards, the Victorian cabling we rely upon, cost, installation nightmares and the very real problem of getting plug sockets exactly where we need them. So a doorbell with a camera on it so you can see whether or not the courier really did call while you were out is the smartest your home can get... for now.

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