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The Best and Worst of Smart Home Products

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Every magazine, website, and blog is abuzz these days with products for a smart, connected, energy-efficient home. From innovations for how we cut carrots to how we park in our garages, these inventions touch every corner of domesticity. Some are game changers, while others are more head scratchers. Explore some highs and lows in the world of smart home innovation.

How Did I Live Without?

Nest Thermostat E

Simple, sleek, and super-effective, the Nest Thermostat E is tops in smart solutions to control your home HVAC system. It intelligently learns and auto adjusts your home’s heating and cooling preferences and is one new way to greenify your home.

In fact, Nest can tie into energy pricing to save customers additional money. If you do find you could use it a few degrees warmer or cooler, simply ask Alexa or your Google Assistant to take care of that adjustment faster than you can say, “It’s hot in here.”

The Smart Lock Pro + Connect

Gone are the days of hiding a spare key under a rock thanks to innovations in door lock technology. Using your cellphone or internet-enabled voice commands to open doors remotely, products such as the Smart Lock Pro + Connect can alert you if the door is open, unlocked, or ajar, adding an extra layer of home security.

Smarter Coffee 2.0

Programmable coffeemakers and single-pod machines have been around for decades, setting a high bar for coffee on demand. Rising to the occasion is the Smarter Coffee 2.0, which can be controlled using your smartphone or integrated with Alexa to customize your brew.

I Can Live Without

Below are some items that you probably could do without when it comes to smart home automation.

Automated Shutters

If opening and closing your plantation-style shutters (yes, all 10 of you) are arduous tasks, you can contribute to a Kickstarter campaign in support of ShutterEaze, billed as the world’s first automated shutter control. If you were hoping to apply smart technology to every corner of your life, this product may be perfect for you.

Bluetooth-Connected Toaster

Coffee has benefited from the rise of smart technology. Applying these same advances to toast, however? The idea seems, pardon the pun, half-baked to us. But if you crave more control and customization than is offered by the darkness dial, the Connected Toaster will complete your smart kitchen.

Antari WiFi800 Fog Machine Controlled by a Smartphone

Halloween comes once a year, and a fog machine is an integral part of a spooky experience. Enter the Antari Smartphone-Controlled Fog Machine. When you can’t leave your candy post, your phone can curate precision fog. It’s a fun idea for one night a year, but a better investment may be a new toothbrush for the post-Halloween sugar bugs.

In today’s ultra-connected age, the sheer range of smart home products is somewhat daunting to explore. While some of these inventions save not only time but also money, others seem likely to collect dust. Now, where did I leave my smart vacuum?

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The DIY Home: 7 Gadgets for Making a Smart Home

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According to the latest reports, 90 percent of consumers in the United States have at least one smart home device.

Are you part of this group? Are you interested in making your home a complete smart home?

If you’re interested in making a smart home, there are a few gadgets that you definitely ought to purchase.

Start by picking up these seven unique gadgets that will set your home apart from all the others in your neighborhood.

Why Make Your Home a Smart Home?

There are a lot of benefits that come with turning your home into a smart home, including the following:

  • Protect your home and your belongings with a smart security system
  • Monitor your children and pets remotely
  • Reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint
  • Answer the door (and know who’s at the door) no matter where you are
  • Lower your homeowner’s and renter’s insurance costs
  • Increase accessibility for disabled and elderly family members

Of course, there’s also the fact that having a smart home is just plain cool. This is the kind of stuff we dreamed about when we were kids — why not make it a reality now?

Best Gadgets for Making a Smart Home

Okay, you can see that there are benefits to living in a smart home. How do you start turning your home from a dumb one to a smart one?

Start by picking up one (or more) of these fun and fascinating gadgets:

1. Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is probably the most well-known smart home device on the market, and for good reason. This little device does a lot of cool things — it’s no wonder almost everyone you meet has one (or sometimes more than one).

Amazon Echo is a voice-activated speaker that lets you do all kinds of things, from listening to music, making phone calls, or even ordering products on Amazon. You can use it set alarms for yourself, too.

If you have more than one Echo, you can use them as an intercom system to communicate with family members in different parts of the house.

2. Philips Hue

Have you ever wished that you could turn down the lights a little bit without turning them off altogether? Or, have you wanted to do the opposite and make the rooms in your house a little brighter?

Philips Hue lightbulbs let you do all this and more. With these special lights, you can adjust dimness and brightness easily, and you can change the color of your lights as well.

You can also set color-coordinated alarms, which allow you to wake up to a certain type of light first thing in the morning — how’s that for a wake-up call?

3. TP-Link HS200

It’s great to have smart lightbulbs like the Philips Hue lightbulbs. These lightbulbs aren’t super helpful, though, if you don’t also have a smart light switch.

Without a smart light switch, your smart bulbs will be rendered useless if someone accidentally flips a switch.

A smart light switch lets you control the lights from an app on your smartphone, and it doesn’t matter what position the physical light switch is in.

You can use the app for the TP-Link HS200 switch to create scenes and set smart actions so that certain lights will turn on or off depending on what you’re doing.

4. Ecobee4

A smart thermostat makes it easy for you to control the temperature in your house and make sure you’re not using more energy than is necessary.

There are lots of smart thermostats on the market, but Ecobee4 is one of the best. Ecobee4 lets you control the temperature with a simple voice command.

It also works like an Amazon speaker, so it can do everything your Amazon Echo can do. Ecobee4 integrates perfectly with the Amazon Echo and the Apple HomeKit.

5. Dojo

Have you ever wanted to have a device that protects your computer from viruses and cyber attacks? If so, now you can with Dojo.

Dojo makes it easy for you to protect all the devices on your network fro viruses, malware, and other cyber attacks.

With Dojo, you never have to worry about privacy breaches again. It automatically detects and blocks cyber threats and provides you with real-time information on what it’s doing.

Dojo is easy to set up, too. You just connect it to your router, download the app, and let Dojo do the rest.

6. Blink XT Smart Security Cameras

Many people invest in smart home devices because they want to increase the security of their home.

If you want to find out more about making your home more secure, you ought to learn about the Blink XT Smart Security Cameras.

These cameras are a great addition to any DIY home security system, and their batteries last for up to two years. They work indoors and outdoors, too, and can withstand extremely cold temperatures with ease.

7. Schlage Z-Wave Connect Century Smart Locks

Finally, your smart home will not be complete without a good set of smart locks.

The Schlage Z-Wave Connect Century Smart Locks are some of the best on the market.

These locks feature a programmable keypad and a built-in alarm.

They’re compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, too, so you can control them with your voice — no more fumbling for your keys when your hands are full!

Make Your Home a Smart Home Today

As you can see, there are a lot of great tools you can purchase to start making a smart home.

Whether your main goal is to increase the security of your home or if you just want to make life a little easier for yourself, a smart home can help you accomplish all your goals.

Do you want to learn more about turning your home into a smart home? If so, be sure to check out some of the other articles on our site today.

This article on the best and worst smart devices is a great on to read — it’ll help you make sure you’re not wasting money on devices that won’t actually improve your home.

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6 New Apps Tackling The Home Automation Market

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Home automation technology is the latest and greatest craze to hit the industry. Consumers are clamoring for more home automation apps and gadgets to make their day-to-day lives easier. Of course, this presents quite a demand for new business ventures to capitalize on. However, you need to know about the competition in order to identify an opportunity in changing industries.

If you are a capable developer looking to break into the home automation applications market with your own solution, keep reading below. This post details the newest apps tackling the home automation market to learn what makes them successful. Then, you can take on the market on your own.

WeMo

The WeMo app is one of the newest and hottest apps in home automation. WeMo is compatible with a number of different top home automation gadgets. That separates it from a large range of the home automation app competition, which are only compatible with a specific gadget or brand. Users can navigate the WeMo interface to manage their smart lights, remotely control their thermostat, analyze their energy use and much more. If you are developing a home automation app to start your own venture, you may want to consider developing an app with a wide array of compatible smart home devices.

Video Doorbell

Video Doorbell is a smart home app that allows you to remotely respond to your home door bell, no matter where you are in the world. What is different about Video Doorbell is that the app is compatible with a number of smart home doorbell gadgets. They also have their own video doorbell gadget on the market as well. The app separates itself from other competitors because it actually allows you to answer the door, even when you are not home, via video on your phone. This is great for receiving a house delivery. Other smart home doorbells only allow you to view who your visitor is before you must physically answer the door yourself. If you want to learn anything from the top smart home apps, learn to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Control 4

The Control 4 app is another one of the best home automation apps on the market. Unlike the others available on this list, the Control 4 app was developed for Android users in particular. The developers found a niche market in the form of Android users, and delivered to that particular audience to fill that market opening. This application allows you to control most home automation apps with your phone. That makes it a one stop home automation application, which is very user-friendly. If you want to develop of the next apps tackling the home automation market, fill a niche opening in the smart home market.

Livible Mobile App

The livible mobile app has automated home storage space. With full service storage, the livible mobile app allows you to track your items, schedule a pick up or drop off, and track your items. Available at livible.com, this app fully automates on-demand storage. This allows you to manage your home’s storage space efficiently without leaving the house. You can easily declutter the house or change over items in the seasons. With an on-demand feature, your app can make time consuming tasks easy and convenient for users.

Gideon Smart Home

The Gideon Smart Home app is another one of the top home automation apps. It is cross-compatible with a number of to home automation gadgets. Further, it is available on both iOS and Android operating systems. What sets the Gideon Smart Home app apart from other smart home apps available is that it allows you to control all of your smart home devices from one place using only your voice. That is right. It is a voice activated home automation app that works with every single device you own, not just one from a certain company. This is certainly one of the most innovative home automation solutions around. If you want to develop the next best home automation solutions, make sure you create an innovative solution to home automation users’ problems.

MyQ Smart Garage

MyQ Smart Garage is one of the most unique home automation apps. It lets you control your garage door, lights and even your thermostat. The smart garage app even notifies you if anyone accesses your garage by opening or closing the door or turning the lights on or off. It is one of the best home automation apps that serves a duel purpose – protecting your home and personal belongings while also making it easier for you to access your garage whenever you need. If you want to develop a smart home app, you need to consider a two-fold purpose or your own home automation application ideas. That will make them much more likely to stand out from the crowd.

Home automation solutions are coveted by all different demographics. A savvy developer should definitely want to capitalize on that market demand. But in order to do so, you need to learn from the best smart home apps on the market right now.

These new home automation apps are shaking up the home automation industry and teaching you valuable lessons to hone your own smart home app ideas for a better shot at success.

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What Are Honeycomb Panels?

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Honeycomb panels are are lightweight, sturdy and high-quality building material that has got a wide variety of different applications. From exterior cladding to furniture design, stone honeycomb panels have got a wide range of different uses.

All of the honeycomb panels produced by HyCOMB are rigorously tested using the highest standards. These panels cover a wide variety of different situations which include high stresses that occur during hurricane winds or under other severe weather conditions as well. HyCOMB’s clients can rest assured that the panels produced by them will meet the strictest of standards.

HyCOMB’s panels are also tested using the company’s own laboratory. And each panel that is made inside of the factory’s production line also gets tested in the in-house laboratory as well. These honeycomb panels are perfect as building materials because they can withstand high winds, severe temperature changes and are very lightweight. And despite how lightweight they are, these panels are durable. This is because honeycombs or hexagonal shapes are some of the strongest in natural.

Why Builders Are Using Honeycomb?

Honeycomb panels are easy to install, lightweight, durable, stable and safer as well. It gives buildings a modern and stylish look, which is why more and more builders recommend it than traditional building materials.

How HoneycombPanels Can Help You?

There are several types of lightweight panels, but the most abundant on the market are, without a doubt, honeycomb or honeycomb core panels. As their name suggests, they have a middle layer of cells. These can be stone or aluminum. And they have got the following properties making them good for building.

Ratio rigidity to weight:

Offers mechanical characteristics such as resistance to compression, flex etc, very close to those of steel while being several times lighter.

Absorption of shock waves:

The unique structure of the honeycomb provides excellent absorption of shock waves.

Flatness:

The excellent flatness of the plates allows them to be an ideal support for the realization of printed panels. This also makes it easy to integrate into building properties.

Reduced costs:

Because of its light weight and protective qualities, stone honeycomb panels enables you to significantly reduce your packaging and shipping costs. It will advantageously replace your treated wood packaging during your exports.

Environmental protection:

The honeycomb panels are the ecological product par excellence. They are made with sustainable materials.

Thus it has its place in various applications not just limited to building exteriors, but they can be used to offer structure rigidity to other buildings as well. And this in industries as varied as the glass industry, building, industrial and so much more.

HyCOMB’s expertise lies in the production of all types of honeycomb panels. Its know-how ensures that its clients will get the strongest, longest lasting and best for value panels.

Production

This company offers the production of various kinds of exterior cladding honeycomb panels made in the following materials and more. These materials include stone honeycomb panels. On-site installation of these honeycomb panels is offered by the company too.

Samples Of Buildings with Honeycomb

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Why Choose Honeycomb Panels and Hycomb?

In conclusion, honeycomb panels are the perfect building exterior material and HyCOMB is a multi-national company that has served many clients all over the world. Their honeycomb panels are beautiful, practical and meet all types of international standards.

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Closing More Deals: 7 Elements No Effective Real Estate Website Should Be Without

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Real estate can be a satisfying and lucrative career, but it is also highly competitive.

Sellers and buyers both want to score the best deal possible, and realtors are usually caught in the crossfire trying to make a deal. And the most important first step is to get customers coming to you instead of your competitors in the first place. This is why your real estate website is crucial.

To attract more business to your page, here are 7 elements that make up an effective real estate website.

7 Parts of Your Real Estate Website You Can’t Afford to Leave Out

1. Your company’s name and brand.

Your company’s name needs to be up front and center on your page, and your logo should be in the top left corner, according to research. Color stands out better than black and white, but make sure the font you use in your logo and on your page is clean and readable.

2. Easy navigation.

The goal of your site is obviously to let visitors clearly find their way around your page and to head them towards specific pages that you want them to see. These would be your “call to action” pages and contact pages, usually. Navigation that is confusing, overloaded, and wordy turns people away. Don’t overload your main navigation bar, either.

3. Call to action.

The top left of your page is your logo, but the top left needs to tell visitors what they need to do next. This is your “call to action,” where you lead them to the information they need to track you down and sell or buy a home. The easier this is to find, the more likely you are to have the visitor use you as their realtor.

4. Graphics.

Your main graphic should support your idea of real estate and how professional you are. Graphics are important as a selling point but don’t overload your site with them. It slows the page down and can bog down a slow server, causing users to simply click out of your site instead of waiting for the graphics to load.

5. Headings and subheadings.

You might have the most amazing content on your page that any realtor in the history of realtors has ever posted, but without using a headline to draw the reader’s eyes to your article, it is simply taking up space. Use strong, bold headings that aren’t too lengthy, and use subheadings with SEO-infused wording and phrases.

6. An offer.

Use an offer as your carrot, to get you their contact info. Offers can be anything from a free information kit for sellers or buyers or a complete list of your homes for sale. This is a great way to generate leads.

7. Contact forms.

Collecting contact information from your site’s visitors is important, and contact forms are the easiest way to do this. Since the majority of sales don’t occur until somewhere around the tenth actual contact, using a form to collect, store and sort data is another way to generate leads and use them to your optimal potential.

Make Your Site Count

Check out your competitors’ sites and see what they offer, then use these 7 elements to make your site even better than theirs!

Clean, clear information, easy navigation, and professionalism are the keys to your successful real estate website.

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Technology

Home Lifts

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Almost every tall building or skyscraper out there has a lift. From the bottom to the top, taking the stairs can be taxing and so, the lift was invented to combat this. We’ve gone from lifts that were powered by hand, to lifts that can dart up 200ft in moments. This is down to the construction and technology of today.

Our engineering capabilities now allow us to edge even higher, and lift technology isn’t just for commercial buildings anymore. Home lifts are making their debut; mainly homes with more than two floors.

Outside your front door, you can witness the mastery of technology and engineering in buildings like The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and The Shard in London. These buildings stand very proudly tall, but even the Shard doesn’t have a lift that takes you from the bottom right to the top. You currently have to get out at the Sky Lobby to change lifts entirely, and that’s not always impressive. It’s a necessary inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless. It also shows a symptom of the limits of the commercial lifts of today.

As The Shard is only 306m tall, there needs to be some innovation happening if people want to ascend a mile-high (1.6km) tower using the same technology. This could end up with up to 10 lift changes just to get to the top! The other downside of changing floors is that these transfer floors take up valuable floor space that can’t be let.

One innovation that is changing the lift game is the UltraRope. It’s a new type of lift cable that has been developed by Kone, a Finnish company specialising in lifts. It uses carbon fibre, not steel, is durable and lightweight while being a cable that isn’t really a cable. There’s a chance that this technology could be rolled out to new lifts, and then possibly in the home!

Home lifts have come a long way as land for development becomes more scarce, and engineering and design smarter, building up rather than out is the best way forward both commercially and for residential property. And with a home spread across many floors, to get between them, a home lift is installed.

Home lifts like everything else have improved with time and technology, so you don’t need to build your home around your lift – your lift can be made to measure i.e. customised to suit the design and style of your home.

Just like with tech systems, lifts too can be manufactured with open source or in their jargon: ‘open protocol’ parts and systems and this means you’re not reliant on just one business as the parts are available and made to suit common lift systems. This results in lower maintenance costs and we know lifts do come with an ongoing maintenance schedule for compliance.

We’re living longer, and our homes are going up rather than out, so thankfully we’re don’t need to get into stair climbing training to manage the many trips we’ll be taking between the floors, you can leave that Stairmaster workout for your time in the gym.

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The Future Is Now: 9 of 2019’s Most Spectacular Home Automation Upgrades

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Twenty years ago we’d brag to our friends about how smart our children were. Now, we can also brag about how smart our homes are!

Smart home technology sales skyrocketed in recent years. Smart technology is now a staple in our culture and the way we live. American households investing in smart home technology now spend on average $490 alone to upgrade their homes.

From security to temperature control, smart home technology is accessible to all our needs. We feel safe using them and we enjoy the perks of saving money on our bills.

Smart homes also provide us with control over homes in a convenient way. Most smart home technologies can be controlled from any location with the touch of a button or by the sound of our voice.

So, what smart home upgrades can we expect in 2019?

Read on to discover which smart home upgrades you should consider in 2019.

Smart Home Upgrades for 2019: Must-Have’s

As smart home technology ages, it gets even smarter. Tech companies improve their products by enhancing features, design, and compatibilities. Explore the following smart home upgrades worth investing in for 2019.

1. Alexa Microwave

AmazonBasics launched an Alexa compatible microwave in 2018. The microwave is able to be controlled by the sound of your voice using your Echo device.

You can relay to your Echo a variety of microwave commands which it will then send to the microwave. For example, you can say “Alexa, reheat my baked potato” and Alexa will send this command to the microwave after gathering the necessary reheating time needed. Some preheating setting already exists on the microwave as well, but Alexa can also add new preheating settings as needed.

Another technology available with the smart AmazonBasics microwave is Amazon’s Dash Technology. You can sign-up to automatically reorder popcorn using Amazon’s Dash Technology with this Alexa powered microwave. When you run low, Dash will order you more at a 10% discounted price.

2. Stick Up Camera

The Stick Up Camera by Ring is the latest upgrade to security cameras. Much like Ring Doorbell technology, Stick Up Camera is motion-activated, allows two-way talking, and is compatible with Alexa. The Stick Up Camera will provide you with high-resolution footage and can record in the dark using night vision technology.

Stick Up Cameras can be placed outside or inside your home. It can also be plugged in and connected to the wifi which makes it more versatile than Ring’s Doorbell which requires doorbell wiring. So, if you don’t have a doorbell, but still want a smart security camera, then the Stick Up Camera by Ring will be a worthy investment in 2019.

3. Amazon Guard

Amazon Guard is a new feature available to Amazon Echo owners. It’s an upgrade that uses the Echo’s microphone and connected devices to act as a security system. You can tell Alexa when you’re leaving and Alexa will reply that it’s “on guard.”

If Amazon Guard detects any suspicious or alarming activity in your home it can alert you right away. It can also integrate with lighting systems to turn lights on and off randomly throughout the day.

To use Amazon Guard, you must have the Amazon Echo Plus Generation 2 model.

4. Smart Plugs

Smart plugs can control lights, appliances, and any other device with a plug. They are Wifi connected, controlled by apps or smart home hubs, and can be scheduled to your liking.

Smart plugs are a great upgrade for your smart home in 2019 because of their versatility. Smart plugs don’t discriminate against older lamps, appliances, or coffee makers. They simply turn these devices on and off from the plug via the app or smart ecosystem.

5. Smart Light Bulbs

Smart light bulbs allow you to control your home’s lighting system by voice using a hub or by using an app.

Smart bulb brands to try out in 2019 are Phillips Hue and Eufy Lumos.

Eufy Lumos light bulbs are entertaining since the bulb has the ability to produce a variety of colors. It is voice and app-controlled and capable of changing colors instantly. You can set Eufy Lumos bulbs on a schedule and control them while you’re away from home.

To get the full experience of using Phillips Hue light bulbs you’ll also need to invest in the Hue Bridge, which connects your smart light bulbs to your wifi other devices. Phillips Hue, however, can be controlled using hubs such as Amazon Echo Plus, but you miss out on features available to only Hue Bridge owners. Phillips Hue bulbs can either be color-changing or traditional white bulbs.

6. Video Doorbells

Video doorbells are one of the latest smart home crazes. Video doorbells are motion activated, Wifi connected, and are operated using an app. They can notify you when your plumber arrives or when a package is delivered.

Read more about hiring the right plumbing company in Phoenix, AZ.

Some are also compatible with other smart home technologies such as the Nest’s Hello video doorbell.

One upgrade to look for in 2019 is the Ring Door View Cam. Similar to classic Ring devices, but installation doesn’t require electrical wiring. Ring’s Door View Cam simply replaces your door’s peephole and works similarly to other Ring models.

It can also detect when someone knocks on the door which is unique to this Ring model. The Door View Cam is not yet available for purchase, but expect to see it released in 2019.

7. Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats improve heating and cooling systems using smart home technology. Some smart thermostats come with sensors that are able to regulate individual room temperatures based on your preferences. Smart thermostats features vary by model and brand, but most can help you to reduce your energy bills and provide you with more comfort throughout your home.

Models to consider purchasing in 2019 are the Ecobee 4 and Nest.

The Ecobee 4 comes with remote sensors which regulate temperature and can detect when you are home. When you’re home the Ecobee 4 will get your home to your preferred room temperature. Ecobee 4 can also integrate with other smart home hubs such as Alexa.

Nest has similar features to the Ecobee 4, but it doesn’t come with remote sensors to control individual room temperature. It is, however, able to integrate with other smart home devices such as smart home lighting. Nest is also motion activated which allows it to regulate temperature and other smart home technologies according to whether you’re home or at work.

Nest and Ecobee 4 are both compatible with Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings.

8. Roomba

iRobot’s Roomba i7+ vacuum hit the market in 2018. Roomba smart vacuums can be programmed to clean your home on a schedule and use sensors in order to navigate around furniture and tough to reach spaces. The latest update to the Roomba is its ability to remember your home’s layout and empty itself.

Roombas are especially helpful for pet owners who deal with pet hair on a daily basis. But, beware pet owners! Pets can still find Roombas to be as scary and/or as playful as regular vacuums, so it’s best to put the pets away when it’s cleaning!

Roombas can also be integrated with smart hubs such as Google and Alexa allowing users to use voice commands to clean specific rooms in their homes. Roomba comes with an app as well which you can use to control it.

9. Window Blinds by Ikea

Need some shade? Want to see the sunrise without lifting a finger? Then investing in smart window blinds from Ikea will be a great addition to your smart home.

Ikea’s smart window blinds are projected to hit U.S. stores in April of 2019. Currently, they are already being carried in German stores.

U.S. stores will carry the FYTUR model of blackout smart blinds which are battery-operated and compatible with Google Assistant, Alex, and HomeKit. FYTUR blinds will be rechargeable and also come with a remote so users without a smart hub like Alexa can operate them with the touch of a button.

This price of these smart blinds remain unknown, but it’s likely they will cost anywhere from around $135 to $210 before tax.

Make Your Home Smarter with Smart Home Upgrades

2019 is sure to be a smart year with smart home technologies continuing to advance and improve. When investing in smart home upgrades, always make sure that the devices are compatible with one another. Not all smart devices will be compatible with each other, so it’s important to thoroughly read the product’s features and compatibility guide.

Want to learn more about the best and worst smart home technologies? Check out our blog post to discover which smart home devices to invest in and which to leave on the store shelf.

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