These Smart Home Gadgets Could Change How You Get Through 2019

A man holding his phone with a menu of different controls for his smart home.

Well, the old year has passed and now we get to see what the future holds. In terms of everyday technology, the world is changing incredibly quickly so it’s nice to know how technology is changing before the world changes around you. One of the biggest revolutions in recent years has been the advent of smart home technology.

You can think of adding smart home technology to your life as a kind of “home improvement,” but plugging in a shiny new gizmo is a lot easier than replacing your roof or cleaning out your gutters, and it’s a lot more fun.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the smart home gadgets changing how we live, play and work.

Icon of a smart speaker with digital assistant. 1. Smart Speakers Powered by Digital Assistants

Most of us are used to asking our smartphones for directions and other miscellaneous information but a new generation of smart speakers is taking interactivity to the next level. Anyone who’s even mildly interested in playing around with smart home technology should think about getting a smart speaker, which can be used to play the radio or podcasts, find information on the Internet, play games and a host of other uses.

The three most common devices are Amazon’s Echo line of speakers, which interact with users via the popular digital assistant Alexa; Google Home, which connects instantaneously to Google Assistant with the simple command, “Hey Google!”; and Apple’s somewhat troubled HomePod, which got a late start and hasn’t made the technological strides of the others. Regardless, these devices are often on sale and are priced quite reasonably so even if you just want to upgrade your music player and experiment with smart home technology, this is the gizmo to try.

Icon of a wifi-enabled smart lightbulb.2. Smart Lights and Plugs

It used to be that a light bulb was a light bulb: screw it in, flip a switch, and lo and behold there was light. Lights and power are changing rapidly. New smart lighting by companies like Philips (with its Hue line of lights) and General Electric (tripling its C by GE lineup of smart lights and plugs in 2019) can do all sorts of things, from turning on via a command to your smart speaker to running complex routines that can, for example, change the lights to a certain scheme for entertaining or watching a movie, or shutting down all the lights at bedtime. It’s a pretty big change that could take some people a while to adopt.

An icon of a door that has a wifi-enabled smart lock.3. Wi-Fi-Enabled Thermostats, Locks and Doorbells

A lot of the gizmos in our homes that used to be analog are about to become digital with the advent of wireless technology. There will be about a dozen new smart doorbells launched at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas —these are doorbells with cameras and two-way speakers that can be accessed at home or remotely through a smartphone app — and already, companies like Nest are selling them like gangbusters. Similarly, both smart locks and smart thermostats can be accessed remotely and/or programmed to run certain routines at certain times of the day.

Icon of a wifi-enabled smart security camera.4. Wireless Video Cameras

Setting up a security camera used to be needlessly complicated due to the need to wire the camera to a recording system and reach a constant source of electricity. However, new cameras by companies like Nest and Arlo are completely wireless, can be run off a solar-augmented battery or an electrical plug, and beam footage directly to your smartphone app or the cloud in the event of burglary or fire.