Over the past few years, you’ve probably heard the terms ‘smart tech’, ‘smart home’ or ‘connected home’. But what does it mean? Well, when it comes to technology, for something to be ‘smart’ or ‘connected’ means that particular gadgets can connect up to the internet via your WiFi network or connect up to your phone via Bluetooth.
For example, a smart kettle can be controlled by an app on your phone. So you can decide when to turn it on and start boiling water. And a connected bulb can be controlled by an app on your phone too, so you can decide if you want it on, off or dimmed.
There are plenty of different smart and connected devices out there, but that’s basically how they work. You might be wondering why this is important to you, right? Smart gadgets may seem a bit gimmicky, like, do we really need a smart toaster? But there are some smart products that are really cool and could make your life easier.
We’ve collected together a few of our favourite smart tech products and apps that’ll make your bedroom smarter, make your routine easier and ensure your room is well and truly future-proof.
Smart plug: How to control anything with an app
You can buy technology that is already smart, like the kettle we mentioned above. But what if you want to be able to control a ‘dumb’ piece of tech that can’t talk to your phone or connect to the internet? Well, all is not lost. Because you can buy a smart plug, connect any gadget to it and then control the plug. This doesn’t give you lots of options, but it does let you turn things on and off.
For example, you can buy a smart plug like this Wi-Fi Smart Plug from TP-Link. You can plug any old lamp into it, but still use an app on your phone to turn it on and off and even schedule it to go on and off. This might not be of use to some people, but if you don’t have a lamp near your bed for whatever reason, it can be great for switching things off when you’re feeling sleepy and don’t want to move. The same goes for getting up in the morning. Schedule a light on the other side of the room to come on instead of an alarm and we’ll guarantee you won’t accidentally go back to sleep.
Wake-up lamp: How to sleep better with the help of tech
One of the most exciting types of smart products is lights, bulbs and lamps. There are lots available that can do a huge range of things, like change to any colour you like, wake you up with a gentle flashing or look like pieces of colour-changing art.
But one of the best things about smart lights is the ones that can help us to sleep better. Because I’m pretty sure we all could do with a bit longer in snooze town each night.
There are lots of lamps that can help you to sleep, but some of the most effective mimic sunrise and sunset. That’s because with the curtains drawn and with lots of clouds and rain to contend with, we often don’t get to experience natural sunlight like we should.
Some of our favourites are the Lumie Bodyclock, which wakes you up with a natural gradual light, which I think we can all agree would make us feel better first thing in the morning than an annoying alarm! There’s also the Philips Wake-Up Light, which is a sunrise lamp and alarm clock rolled into one.
Amazon Alexa: Talk to your tech
Amazon Alexa is a simple voice assistant that can do all kinds of things, like tell you the weather, order things for you and control other things in your house. All you have to do is buy an Amazon speaker, like the Amazon Echo or the Amazon Echo Dot and connect it to the internet in your home. You then control it by saying things like, “Alexa, turn my light off!” or “Alexa, what time is it?”.
Bear in mind you might have to get your family, parents or whoever you live with on board with Amazon Alexa too, so talk to them before looking into getting an Amazon Dot or an Amazon Echo.
Hue bulbs: How to turn lights on and off with your phone
If you’ve got a bit more pocket money to play with, you might want to try the Philips Hue bulbs. These are some of the smartest bulbs out there, which you can add to any lamp or replace the main bulb in your bedroom. You can then use the accompanying app to turn them on and off, dim them, make them flash and even change their colour!
IFTTT: How to get all your apps and tech to talk to each other
If you get some smart products for your room, you can take your techie talent one step further with IFTTT. IFTTT, which is short for If This Then That, is an app and online tool that lets you connect up different things and set rules about how they should work.
For example, you can tell the Dominos app to turn on your smart lamp when your pizza is nearly on the way. Or if you have a Fitbit, you can get your Fitbit app to tell your lights to come on or your smart plug in your kitchen to turn the kettle on.
Basically, IFTTT lets you get different apps and gadgets talking to each other in a way that’s simple, easy to switch on-and-off and automated.
Whether you buy one smart plug or kit out your whole bedroom with connected stuff, it’s a really good idea to see what’s out there and how it could make your room better and your life a bit easier. Just don’t splurge all your pocket money on tech if you’re not sure if you like it. A top tip is to head to your local PC World or Currys or department store and test it out for yourself.
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Image: Project Mc2