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High tech homes: the smart technology that helps you run your home

Fridges that recommend recipes, robot vacuums and moving the walls at the touch of a button…

One of the high-tech Promo Homes designs.
One of the high-tech Promo Homes designs.

HAVE YOU EVER forgotten to turn the lights or – God forbid – the immersion off before leaving the house?

Or have you ever wanted to warm up the house before you get home but forgot to pre-set the heating? Then you’ll be happy to hear there are a variety of high-tech ways you can control the heating without having to physically be at home.

And it’s not only heating and lights that can now be controlled from a distance. A number of apps and high-tech systems have already been developed which allow you to remotely control a whole range of appliances including your house alarm and washing machine.

Smart vaccuums…

LG has developed a whole range of robot-vacuums that can clean your carpets and floors without crashing into the furniture or the walls (or the dog). Some, like the Hom-Bot below, have two cameras, one on the top and one beneath, to plot the cleaning path and can store floor plans for future reference. The dust bag is in the middle section and accessed from the top. (They do cost several hundreds of dollars though…)

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… and fridges

LG has also developed a smart fridge which connects with your smartphone to check the food inside and the expiration dates. The fridge can recommend recipes based on the ingredients and the recipes can be tailored to a personal profile based on your age, gender, weight and BMI.

Remote-controlled home

If you’re looking for a handy way to control the heating, check out heatmiser’s WiFi thermostat, which can be used to control your heating from your iPhone or from the web. This system also allows you to lock the buttons on the unit in the house “as an easy way to save energy”, according to the manufacturers. Now that’s control…

Meanwhile, a free Panasonic Smart App coming out in Japan in September can be used to control a whole range of home appliances remotely via a smartphone.

The compatible appliances you can set and control from afar include steam-rice cookers and washer-dryers, as well as health-focused products like blood pressure monitors:

[U]sers can control their air conditioners remotely from outside the home, check if the refrigerator is running efficiently, or set their preferred washing cycle using their smartphone. The new app also allows owners of the Panasonic healthcare products to create graphs tracking their weight and calories consumed by everyday activities among other things, making it easier to manage daily healthcare data. Furthermore, customer support such as checking device malfunctions will also be available.

And if you want a whole house that can be controlled remotely, then one of these Proto Homes might be just the thing you’re looking for. Built from energy-conservation materials, the home’s functions, from the stereo system and the heating to the alarm, can be controlled from the iPhone or iPad. You can also use your smartphone or tablet to check that status of your home’s security by checking on the doors and windows.

This funky-soundtracked report on a Proto Homes house featuring its builder Frank Vafee demonstrates the level of control the homeowner has over the property – using an iPad:

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Proto Homes prices are based on $210 a square foot, including fixtures and construction.

The next level of control

And if controlling the appliances remotely seems like a move in the right direction but just isn’t quite enough control for you, then check out the award-winning ‘Closet House’ in Matosinhos, Portugal.

The property can be re-designed internally at your whim by moving the walls around electronically. At the push of a button, you can reorganise the layout, as well as raise or conceal your TV screens, and control the curtains.

The property won the Interiors Category of ArchDaily’s Building of the Year Awards in 2010 and the organisation made this video tour of the super-tech house.

Open thread: What high-tech functions would you like in your house? >

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