My sister, Juliette, lives in a London flat and works crazy hours so often her home is empty from 7am to 10pm, if not later. The other day she arrived home to find her front door had been bashed down by the fire brigade after one of the taps had been running hot water (she didn’t turn it off properly) all day and created so much steam that all hell broke loose. The emergency services had no idea how to get in touch with her so had no option but to break down the door so she arrived home to chaos. All the while, Juliette had been at work, none the wiser. So, what if we could control, monitor and secure our homes from an app on our phones? What if we were alerted every time there was motion, a temperature rise or fall and most helpfully in this case, an increase in moisture? Life could be that much easier.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to Ham Yard Hotel in Soho for breakfast and to attend one of the Samsung Series talks of 2015; topics ranging from the rise of technology in health and wellbeing with Hemsley & Hemsley to the evolution of film technology with Working Title productions. I was lucky enough to go along to the Smart Home talk in conversation with, among others, the Soho House Group architect Alex Jackson and we were given a chance to try out the newly launched Smart Things technology in one of the hotel’s suites. Not a bad way to spend breakfast time. Smart Things originated after the founder experienced a major leak in his home whilst he was away. He had absolutely no idea of the damage being done and when he returned he was faced with a $100k repairs bill. Soon after he began to develop the Smart Things technology, starting with a moisture sensor, and launched a Kickstarter campaign, which was eventually taken over by Samsung.
I have to say that I was a real technophobe before I met Jules; I didn’t even know what a smart phone was, I had a CD-man (we’re talking only six years ago!), I’d never owned a computer and I had a TV the size of a postage stamp. Oh how things have changed! Jules is a web developer and completely obsessed with all types of technology and I have to say he is a big part of this blog – I wouldn’t have been able to start it without him. He has also taught me an appreciation for how technology can work for you, not against you, which is exactly the ethos of Samsung’s Smart Home. We were shown various different ways in which Samsung technology can be used as standard throughout one’s home but the thing that really caught my attention was Smart Things, only recently launched here in the UK (it can already keep stock of your fridge over in the States!). In the hotel suite, we went on a tour of the bedroom that had a Smart Things hub – a small box and a plug – installed). From the hotel bed I could turn on the lights, boil the kettle, turn on the radio, heat up my hair straighteners and make sure the temperature of the room was just right all from the Smart Things app on my phone. Now that is what I need in the morning!
The Smart Things hub allows you to control functions in your home either from within your home or remotely using just your phone. All you need are the plugs if you want to control things like TV’s, radios, fans and lights and there are different sensors that you can also install (when I say install, all I mean is stick or screw to a door or wall) to monitor motion, presence, temperature and moisture. It is hassle free, discrete, affordable and takes minutes to set up with no big wall panels or cables to hide. Take a look at this video to show more ways in which Smart Things can be used in any type of home…
In my own home we are now using the Smart Things starter kit and we have set up the plug to turn off our lamps, TV and radio when we leave the house and to put the lamps on when we return. We can also double check that our back door is open when we are out (I constantly have a panic that is is closed and that Otto won’t be able to get out to go to the loo if he is left at home alone). I can check I’ve turned my hair straighteners off, another panic I often have, and don’t even get me started on my “have I turned off the iron?” routine. Using the motion sensor we know whether Otto is moving around whilst we are out and we can even turn the radio or TV on if we are going to be out for longer than expected as he likes to watch a bit of TV! We will also be instantly alerted if someone enters our home. None of this takes any effort or much expense.
After the talk we also got to try out more of the Smart Home technology. Using the mask below I could see a 3D virtual room so if you needed help planning changes to your interior you could visualise it all here – clever!
What would you like to control or monitor in your home when you are out?
*This post was written in collaboration with Samsung.