8 of the best weird and wacky gadgets
1. Virtual reality
VR headsets may have taken off with gamers, but smart homes are the perfect setting to offer a much more immersive experience. Microsoft’s HoloLens promises to bring us technology previously only found in sci-fi movies by producing 3D characters and objects in your own home. Startups such as Ultrahaptics in Bristol are developing technology that allows these virtual objects to be touched in mid-air, bridging the gap between real and virtual worlds.
2. Smart sleep
Countless wearables that monitor our sleep cycles have been launched, though none provide such a comprehensive range of tracking tools than smart mattress covers. The Eight mattress cover analyses signals from your body, including temperature, hours slept and breathing rate. The device then creates a personalised schedule that continually adapts to changes while you sleep and communicates with other smart home products, such as light bulbs and thermostats, to design the ideal sleep environment.
3. Connected mirror
In the near future mirrors will be able to do everything your smartphone can, with technology giant Samsung unveiling a smart mirror last year that displays news headlines, weather forecasts and can even provide personalised style advice. It may be some time before internet-connected mirrors become commonplace, but when they do, they can finally answer the question: “Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest of them all?”
4. Pet plants
Houseplants will simply wilt away if they aren’t cared for, but soon a thirsty plant could text you a reminder when it needs watering. The Pet Plant concept from designer Junyi Heo uses a sensor-filled pot to show a plant’s “feelings”, smiling when fulfilled and scowling when dissatisfied. While just a concept for now, this device will be another step towards creating a home where everything is connected.
5. Robotic kitchen
Robot chefs have the potential to stop people toiling away in the kitchen preparing meals, thanks to their ability to mimic renowned human chefs. Moley Robotics have built a fully automated prototype robo-chef that doesn’t require any human assistance. All users need to do is make a selection from the extensive recipe library on their smartphone app and the perfect meal is just a tap away.
Smart technology can extend beyond a home’s four walls and help gardens thrive. Both novice gardeners and expert horticulturalists will gain from using smart gardening devices that keep plants healthy without any human intervention. The Edyn smart gardening system includes a soil sensor that monitors humidity, light, moisture and nutrition, with this data being fed into the Edyn water valve to control irrigation and, in the process, save water and reduce utility bills.
7. Smart garage
At first glance a smart garage door opener may not appear to be the most exciting aspect of an innovative smart home, but ultra-connected devices make this ordinary door a key part of homes of the future. Chamberlain’s MyQ technology lets users control their garage door from anywhere in the world through a smartphone app and alerts you when you’ve forgotten to close it. Most impressively the device can sync with Nest’s thermostat to conserve energy when owners leave the house.
8. Styler Wardrobe
The best technologies solve genuine problems and make everyday life easier, so a smart wardrobe that refreshes clothes without the need for detergents or a visit to the drycleaners could be ideal for time-strapped workers. LG’s clothing management system Styler uses hot steam to dewrinkle and freshen clothes before hangers gently move to get rid of any stubborn creases. The smart wardrobe even has a pressing area to keep trousers looking crisp.