When I was asked to write a feature on the ultimate smart home, I felt an overwhelming…nothingness overtake me. But why? I suspect, not unlike most of you, I’ve experienced enough new technology to know this: While I can’t wait to see what the next attention-grabbing thing I can’t live without is, my well-worn eyes are better trained to filter through what will actually make my life more efficient and fun and productive, without requiring any more work on my part. That is, enough already with all of the time-sucking, lackluster 21st-century gizmos. Seriously, enough.
From value-oriented must-haves to borrow-against-your-trust-fund-now toys and decor, the following smart home guidebook should get your inner conversation started. Call it a virtual shopping basket without that pesky hold on your charge card. Let’s start building this smart home now, shall we?
When I say “gone in 60 seconds,” I’m not referring to the car heist flick, but your dream home’s garage. At the very moment it looks like you’re going to plow over the rose garden with your Lamborghini, the flower beds pop up to reveal a parking space—a vehicle elevator that retracts to a tidy subterranean level of your property. Yep. That’ll work.
HiCan Smart Bed/Sharp INTELLOS A-UGV
Ever dream the impossible dream? A bed that engulfs you so entirely, there’s no outer world to disturb your chi? Well, now you can live the dream with the HiCan, a smart bed that actually tracks, monitors and analyzes the quality of your sleep. Looking to add another layer of comfort to your next REM cycle? Hire Sharp’s roving security detail, the Sharp INTELLOS A-UGV (Automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle). It’s your intimidating sheriff, video jockey and sniffing dog on wheels. The Sharp INTELLOS A-UGV can also run about as fast as your next home invader—and catch the entire pursuit on camera. Sleep soundly.
UBTECH’s Alpha1 Pro or Cruzr
The Jetsons’ overused lifestyle cliché has finally arrived: The robot! (See above left.) That is, at least in large-scale commercial venues. The motherboard of the residential model hasn’t learned how to park, entirely unsupervised, yet. But it’s darn close.
Samsung’s The Wall
For the jaded big-screeners and gamers, Samsung delivers the world’s first 146-inch modular MicroLED wireless TV. The Wall not only accelerates all the best functions in every statistical category, but can also serve as a home’s or family’s central information hub, with modular components that can be resized on demand. Beyond compare. It’s your crib’s personal Times Square jumbotron. What you want to see up close is your business.
Electric Mirror’s Sage
If flipping the TV on to get the morning headlines is more than you can tolerate, you should consider adding Electric Mirror’s Sage to your smart home. No, it’s not your spiritual guru. But almost. Designed for luxury hospitality suites, this smart mirror system will turn your personal space into a five-star, touchscreen suite. So now, besides being able to catch the latest breaking news flash, you can also order up a ham-and-egg delivery, check the weather and turn on your sound system, room by room, all while brushing your teeth.
If you want the luxury of soaking in a tub, but live in a cramped space, you just might need Ekotektura’s Tulip, a convertible shower that doubles as a pull-down bathtub. (It’s out for patent and looking for manufacturer partners for production.) The Murphy-bed-style appliance for your bathroom also morphs into a working desk and storage center for those supertight micro-studios.
Design Odyssey LTD’s Vertebrae/FoldiMate
Still feeling cramped in that micro-studio? This space-saving piece of industrial art doubles as a sink, toilet and vanity storage—and then some. Hailing from the UK, Design Odyssey’s all-in-one Vertebrae vertical bathroom takes up less than 3.5 feet by 1.5 feet, width-wise. Once you’ve put the bathtub back into the wall and folded the rest of the bathroom into its steel column-self—and gotten yourself pulled together, too—swing by and check in with your newly hired computerized laundress FoldiMate (see above). You’ll never have wrinkled clothes again, as it uses the perfect amount of fabric softener and light starch—and produces the best French folded crisp shirt ever. Ever. This machine will change your life.
LG Signature Door-in-Door Super-Capacity Refrigerator
You’re already onto your first conference call and your stomach is grumbling. (You’re also texting your secretary, “Remind me why I’m leading this call?”) Well, behold the LG Signature Door-in-Door Super-Capacity Refrigerator. At 31 cubic feet, and with an illuminating smoked glass interior, it allows you to continue that call as if you’re sitting at your desk. LG’s catchy motto says it all: “You can raid your fridge without losing your cool”—or letting that energy-saving air out. Hover your foot over the illuminated LED glow aimed at the floor and the door pops right open. Hands free. At first glance, this super-sleek icebox may seem underwhelming. This is the fridge you need. I promise.
Sharp’s Superheated Steam Countertop Oven
If your Alpha1 Pro put your groceries away in your LG Door-in-Door properly, you should now be able to grab and reheat the gourmet meal you just bought. Everyone I know is getting rid of her microwave. From privacy invasion quips to brain cancer fears to “my gluten-free bread is like a brick”…how about a perfectly browned, steaming breakfast plate? Restaurants have had the capability for decades. Bring it home as a built-in wall unit or pick up the soon-to-be-released and -priced version from Sharp—the Superheated Steam Countertop Oven—which offers built-in convection for simultaneously crisp and moist cooking. Finally.
Let’s head to work. You can now design, draft or sketch what’s on your mind with an ever-changing piece of framed artwork. It’s like your own MoMA Etch A Sketch without the knobs (see above). And the beauty is, no matter how much of a pretend David Hockney you think you are—yeah, right!—it’ll always look good, thanks to Miranda by GilesMiller.com.
MWE Labs’ The Emperor
You’ve slayed the conference call and scheduled all your appointments and tasks. Skip the commute. MWE Labs’ The Emperor is your own stay-at-home corner office. MWE designs scream super productivity—in other words, The Emperor “creates a shelter from visual distractions, provides privacy and an enhanced sense of psychological security,” as per the company’s website. Captain Kirk might even be baffled, because it’s so advanced, compact and beautiful. With a bevy of mood and working lights, integrated audio, plenty of inputs, multiple screens and an overall sense of immersion, The Emperor will make you work harder, better, faster and most of all, stronger.
The Ovei Wellbeing Capsule
If you’re in need of an escape hatch from your family or office life, the Ovei Wellbeing Capsule is all you need. This personal pod and hi-tech cocoon brings new meaning to “chill out” (or “power nap” before a board meeting). Sometimes just a few moments of separation or calm from an environment can help you reset, refresh and provide can-do energy. Unplug. If not for yourself, then for your colleagues.
Smart homes, folks, ain’t for dummies.