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July 27, 2017

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5 smart home devices that make life simpler

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Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau

CES Convention Final Day at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Sunday, January 8, 2017.

Once only a fantasy imagined in movies and television shows, increasingly sophisticated smart home technology has been trickling into the market in the past few years.

Homeowners can now control just about every aspect of their abode via smartphones or other wireless devices.

According to research by the Consumer Technology Association, hosts of CES, the giant tech trade show staged annually in Las Vegas, smart devices are now owned in 15 percent of U.S. households.

The latest and most innovative smart home technology was unveiled at this year’s CES, with most items either already available or scheduled for release by the end of the year.

Pop Home Switch

Price: $39.95-$59.95

We’ve all been there: You tuck yourself into bed and are ready to conk out for the night when you realize you left a light on or forgot to lock the door. Instead of dragging yourself out of bed and interrupting your pre-sleep rituals, Logitech’s Pop Home Switch button now allows homeowners to turn lights off, lock doors and more with a touch of a button.

The Pop Home Switch can turn lights on or off with a single push. Other commands can be recorded on the device to carry out with a double tap of the button. Pop can change the color of lights (with the use of smart lights) to enhance the mood at a party, dim the lights for movie night or brighten lights for reading time. Users also can control music with the Pop Home Switch.

Pop buttons can be placed all over the home to ensure you have control wherever you’re at home, or by using the Apple Home app (for HomeKit devices) or the POP app.

Ring

From $149

That tiny peephole in your front door really doesn’t provide a great view of someone at your doorstep.

Smart home technology now allows homeowners not only to see who is at the door via HD video streaming on their phone, but also to interact without opening the door or even being at home. The Ring’s two-way talk feature eliminates potentially dangerous situations.

The Ring also introduced a home floodlight with built-in HD security camera, a siren alarm and the two-way talk feature. There’s also a stick-up security camera that can be placed wherever a homeowner pleases.

The Ring Doorbell Pro is a slimmer, more advanced version of its original product. Users can also go the eco-friendly route and buy a solar panel ($49) to power Ring’s stick-up cam.

Kuri

$699

Kuri, a 20-inch tall interactive robot, offers owners a host of functions.

Its built-in HD camera allows homeowners to check on their house or pets when they’re away. Kuri also features a four-microphone array, with dual speakers using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, so it can react to voice commands or noises. Additionally, Kuri can play music, read a bedtime story to your children and follow you around the house playing podcasts while you get ready for your day.

Expressive eyes, a quirky language of beeps and bops and multicolor chest lights make Kuri more personable than previous home robots. Kuri has multiple sensors for mapping and detecting edges and objects, minimizing bumps into household items.

Whirlpool Smart Kitchen

• Whirlpool Front-Control Range with Scan-to-Cook Technology, from $1,699

• Whirlpool Wall Oven with Scan-to-Cook Technology, from $2,599

Whirlpool has new technology to simplify home cooking.

Whirlpool introduced its scan-to-cook technology in its range and microwave wall unit, ensuring food is cooked using the correct settings every time.

Users just scan the UPC barcode on a food package in the Whirlpool mobile app on their smartphone and the recommended directions, temperature and cooking time will automatically transmit to the appliance. The app allows users to customize the scan-to-cook settings to meet individual food preferences.

The smart range can guide users through a three-step recipe. If a dish requires the user to bake, broil and then keep warm, instead of manually switching the oven, the Whirlpool mobile app users can send the recipe directly to the appliance and it will follow the cooking directions automatically.

In addition, the front-control range with scan-to-cook technology lets users start, pause, stop and adjust the temperature and cook time for the oven from anywhere in the home. It also sends alerts for when an item is finished cooking, reducing the chance the dish will be burnt.

Amazon Echo

$49.99 to $179.99

Taking advantage of its Alexa software, Amazon’s line of Echo products allows users a variety of controls in and around their homes. Implementing voice commands, Echo simplifies activities such as controlling the thermostat, lighting and television. Echo allows users to order a pizza, hail a ride, track their fitness and order flowers. New skills are constantly added via the Alexa app.

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