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With each passing year, new technologies are shrinking the gap between science-fiction and reality. Gone are the days when we just talked on the phone; we talk to our phones now. The same could be said of our houses. That 1999 Disney Channel movie Smart House doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore, does it? As far as I know, nobody’s figured out how to turn a house into a mother, but these five tools could make a parent’s job a little easier:

1. Ecobee3 Thermostat

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of Nest’s smart thermostat, and I’ve got no beef with Nest (as you’ll see), but I also think you really ought to know about the ecobee3. The main reason? The ecobee3 uses individual room sensors to choose which rooms of your home to heat or cool. Nest also has a motion sensor to help with energy efficiency, but – like most thermostats – it’s only taking a reading in one room, most likely a hallway. Also, while both are compatible with Amazon Echo, ecobee3 is compatible with Apple HomeKit – Nest is not. If you’re an Android user, this difference is not a problem. Or, if you already have a Nest, there is a way to connect to HomeKit using your Mac, but it will take some extra effort. (link below)

http://www.idownloadblog.com/2015/12/18/control-nest-with-apple-watch-homekit-siri-homebridge/

2. Nest Cam

For those who have already integrated a Nest Learning Thermostat into your home, the Nest Cam is a great next step for adding security and peace of mind to your home. With indoor and outdoor options, the Nest Cam has all sorts of applications. A microphone and a speaker on each camera enable you to hear what’s going on outside, or communicate from across the house, intercom style. Nest Cam can also send you alerts when it detects an intruder, saving footage and a photo of the person in question. If you have a hard time not worrying about the house while you’re away, or even just want a really versatile baby monitor, there’s probably a way that a Nest Cam or two could help you breathe a little deeper.

3. Phillips Hue Home Lighting

You can literally make your life more vibrant with this product. The Hue system by Phillips consists of smart light bulbs and a “hub” that can connect to your smartphone to turn lights on and off, dim them, and even change colors. This is another smart product that is compatible with Amazon Echo, as well as Apple’s HomeKit, so Alexa and Siri are at your service to adjust lighting with your voice. The Hue Bridge hub can also store lighting “scenes” so you can customize and recall your own light setup for different activities or times of day. All of this without reaching for your phone or walking across the room to a light switch. Just stay cozy and ask nicely.

4. iHome Control Smart Plug

What the Hue Home Lighting system does for your overhead lights, Smart Plugs accomplishes for simple plug-in appliances like fans, lamps, and so on. Plug a Smart Plug into your wall outlet, and you’ve got control over whatever is plugged into it via your smart device or, you guessed it, your voice. the iHome Control Smart Plug is compatible with the widest range of apps and interfaces in the internet of things. So Siri, Alexa, your iPhone or Android device will all work to turn on the space heater without moving from your fortress of blankets on the couch.

5. Amazon Echo

Clearly, this brilliant smart speaker has stolen the show in this blog post. But compatibility with other smart objects barely scratches the surface of “Alexa’s” many talents. From playing music, to ordering pizza, the Echo is an ever-improving tool that can hear you from across the room and do more than I have room to write. Ask about the game, the weather, the news, or order more potato chips. The Amazon Echo does a ton, and more and more companies are building Echo compatibility into their products and apps. So, if you’re looking to make your home smarter, this would be a good place to start.

All of these devices can certainly take a couple minutes off of tasks or relieve you from some of the physical elements of household chores, but they can also save you money. So, whether it’s lower energy costs or turning the lights off from your bed, smart technology can help you rest a little easier at home.