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Smart-home functionality takes the pain out of preparing the entire household for return to school

Getting back into term-time routine has never been easier thanks to a raft of new applications

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 9:37am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 9:37am

The lazy days of summer are winding down for another year and, for families with school-aged children, that means getting back into term-time routine.

If ever parents could use a hand getting everyone out the door in the mornings, it’s right after the long holiday break. This is where smart-home functionality steps right up to the plate.

An orderly start to the day begins with a good night’s sleep. Bedtimes tend to be fluid during holidays, so getting your young ones back into the swing of early to bed, early to rise can be a challenge, especially when it’s still light outside. A gently dimming intelligent lighting system can lull them into slumber, much like cinema lighting prepares us for when a movie is about to start.

Inspired by the sun, the Philips Hue white ambience ( or, connected lighting helps everyone drift off to sleep, and wake up naturally, feeling energised for the day ahead. For those with young children who have to get up during the night, the new nightlight function delivers a low level of light while minimising exposure to blue light, reducing disturbance to your (and their) sleep cycle. The system connects with Apple devices, and Philips says it’s working with other apps and platforms as well.

Then, wake up not to the beep of your smartphone, but to the Beddi, an intelligent, app-enabled alarm clock with a range of functions to help you get ready, such as announcing the day’s weather forecast, and out the door on time. It can also turn on your connected coffee maker, and order an Uber ride.

Prepare a guilt-free breakfast in a snip with the Juicero, a Wi-fi-enabled counter-top appliance designed to make organic, cold-pressed juice at home. There’s no preparation needed, nor messy clean-up afterwards, as the fruit and veggies come in pre-prepared packs already chopped, washed and mixed. The companion app will tell you which nutrients you’re consuming, and which farm grew each ingredient.

The Juicero is only available in California now, but its inventor has plans for a United States-wide roll out, and considering that he’s raised some US$120 million in start-up funding, from investors including Google Ventures, who knows how far that thing can fly.

Imagine no more yelling down the hall to get a teenager out of their room: let an intelligent intercom, such as Nucleus, do the nagging for you. The tablet-like touchscreen intercom comes with Alexa installed and can summon a child in the next room, or grandma in a faraway continent, with equal dexterity.

Keep everyone organised with personalised schedules and to-do lists – a family staple which used to be posted onto every fridge door, but can now be integrated into the appliance itself. Samsung’s new Family Hub refrigerator, with Wi-fi-enabled touchscreen not only manages the groceries stored inside, but keeps the whole family connected. Sync everyone’s calendar to the hub, and end the excuses for forgotten appointments.

Shoo little ones into the bathroom, and you can get yourself ready while a smart toothbrush, such as the Philips Sonicare, monitors their oral hygiene. Sensors on the handle track teeth-brushing in real time, syncing data via Bluetooth to an app. The app will give feedback on the results, such as whether any spots have been missed. The children’s version (for ages three and up) also offers brushing instructions.

Out the door, and enable your intelligent home security. Keyless entry systems such as the August Smart lock, can monitor who comes and goes, so if your teens aren’t home when they should be, or, conversely, are at home when they shouldn’t be, parents can be alerted to that as well.

Now that the whole household is ready for school, let the new academic year begin.