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Latest innovations in smart-home technology will also lighten the load of household chores

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 December, 2015, 11:05am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 March, 2016, 5:34pm

What to buy for the person who has it all this festive season? How about some of the latest innovations in smart-home technology, which will give them bragging rights once offices reopen for business and might lighten the load of household chores too.

The Elgato Eve senses indoor air quality, temperature and humidity, and displays the readings on your mobile phone – even analysing, the vendor claims, the level of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in a room. Householders can track all of the above by day, week or month, and it also works with Apple’s Siri and HomeKit services.

Britain-based tech company Bigben Interactive has a nifty, Bluetooth-enabled indoor/outdoor speaker which produces ambient light - in seven fixed colours or programmable variant mode - and can also be used as a seat or coffee table. It’s designed to be splash-proof, and support up to 120kg in weight. Available in three sizes, ColorCube could be a handy addition to the smart home balcony.

The first invention by American locksmith Walter Schlage, patented in 1909, was a door lock that had the ability to turn lights on and off. Now the company he founded has developed a voice-activated smart-door lock that opens with Siri (with digital keypad and actual keyhole as back-up). Programming and using the Schlage Sense deadbolt are said to be as simple as using an app.

Keep your valuables secure at home with First Alert’s new Wi-fi safe. No more forgotten codes or lost keys with this model, which syncs with your smartphone to lock or unlock, assign users and monitor usage via mobile app.

For the tech-savvy learner cook, Pantelligent is a Bluetooth-enabled skillet which guides the user step-by-step in real time to create the perfect dish. Pick a recipe from your smartphone or tablet, and an app will tell you how long to cook it, even when to flip or stir. The recipient may have to wait for delivery – according to the manufacturer’s website, stocks of Pantelligent, one of TIME magazine’s top 25 inventions of 2015, are sold out until February.

Still in the kitchen, a smart herb garden from Click and Grow is possibly the easiest indoor garden solution available. The company claims it uses Nasa-inspired technology for a system that helps the herbs grow faster naturally.  Just insert the provided seeds into cartridges, fill the water tank, and plug it in. Technology does the rest, with the system’s “specially developed smart soil” balancing oxygen, water and nutritional ingredients at an optimal level.

For the price of a stocking-filler, Philips’ Hue range of remote-controlled lighting has an entry-level dimming kit (around HK$300) which effortlessly lets the user set the required mood.

A top-end spend for the home entertainment buff would have to be Samsung’s latest curved screen 4K Ultra HD smart LED TV – a whopping 88-inch screen pretty much guarantees immersive viewing, but expect to pay upwards of HK$140,000 for the privilege.

And to end remote control overload with all your connected home entertainment devices, Pronto has teamed up with the Peel Smart Remote app to turn your iPhone into a personalised universal remote control. It controls your devices, puts a TV guide in the palm of your hand, and sends reminders to watch (or record) the season’s hottest shows. Add a La-Z-Boy, some cold beer, and the man of the house should be one happy chappy.