Trending December 2023 # 6 Ways To Secure Your Smart Home Against Hackers # Suggested January 2024 # Top 17 Popular

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What can hackers do to my smart home?

If someone managed to hack into one, or all of your smart devices right now, what personal information would they have access to? And how might they weaponize your favorite smart devices against you? How about:

Recording video footage of you in your own home, by tapping into your security cameras and webcams.

Working out when your property is most likely to be empty, by examining the routines programmed into your smart thermostat.

Harnessing your smart devices’ processing power, and then using it to launch a large-scale cyber attack against other unsuspecting smart home owners.

Putting your entire house on lockdown, and demanding a ransom before letting you back in.

The possibilities are endless, but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all of your favorite smart gadgets!

1. Go to the source

Let’s start by heading to the source of almost all digital attacks: the Internet.

Your Wi-Fi router is the most vulnerable spot in your smart home, so you’ll need to make sure it’s locked down tight:

Change your router’s name. Most routers have a default name assigned by the manufacturer, but this often reveals information about the router, such as its make and model. We want to limit the amount of information a potential hacker has to work with, so you should change this factory-assigned default to something unique and unusual, that also doesn’t give away your location or identity.

Use a strong encryption method. When you setup your Wi-Fi network access, opt for a strong encryption method, such as WPA2.

Create additional networks. You may want to create a dedicated second network for your smart devices so if someone does manage to hack into your primary Wi-Fi network, they won’t immediately have access to all of your smart devices. It’s also a good idea to setup a guest network, which will allow you to share your Wi-Fi with friends and family, without giving them access to all of your smart devices.

Consider investing in a third party router. You don’t have to use the router that’s shipped to you by your Internet service provider. Many third parties sell routers, and some of them offer better security than the routers that are included in your typical Internet package.

2. Don’t settle for default

Any cyber criminal who’s done their research will know the default passwords that are pre-programmed into many popular IoT products.

When you purchase a smart device, you should always change the default password. Remember that all of the usual password best practices apply: choose a password that’s long, complex and unique to that particular device. If you’re struggling under the weight of having to remember so many passwords, then you can always use a password manager app such as LastPass or Dashlane.

While you’re changing the password, you should also review the device’s default privacy and security settings.

The settings that work for the manufacturer, may not necessarily work for you, and they could even compromise your privacy, as manufacturers often want to gather as much information about their customers as possible.

3. Disable all unnecessary features

When you purchase a new smart device, it’s not unusual for every feature to be enabled out-of-the-box – manufacturers want to make a good first impression, after all!

It may sound paranoid, but every active feature is a potential route into your smart home. Don’t make a hacker’s job any easier: when you purchase a smart device, take stock of all the features that are enabled, and disable any that you don’t currently need. Not only will this make your smart home more secure, but disabling unnecessary features can make your devices perform better, and consume less energy.

4. Update everything

Software updates often contain security features and fixes, so it’s important to keep your smart devices and their companion apps up-to-date.

If you interact with your smart home using a smartphone or tablet, then it also doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re running the latest version of your mobile operating system.

Finally, don’t forget about your router, as manufacturers may release firmware updates from time-to-time. If you’re unsure how to update your router, then check out the manufacturer’s website for more information.

5. Add an extra layer of security, with MFA

Once MFA (multi-factor authentication) is enabled, authenticating your identity becomes a two step process: you’ll need to enter your password and then pass an additional security check, such as entering a one-time code that’s shared with you via SMS or email.

If one of your smart devices or companion apps offer MFA, then it’s always a good idea to enable it. With MFA is place, even if a hacker does manage to get their hands on your password, they still won’t have access to your smart home.

6. Say “no” to the temptation of public Wi-Fi

Do you manage your smart home from your mobile device? When you’re out-and-about, it can be tempting to drop into your smart apps and check how things are going back home, but you should never access your smart devices while connected to public Wi-Fi.

When you’re connected to a public network, any information you transmit could potentially be accessed by other people on that network – and that includes the login details for your smart devices. 

Jessica Thornsby

Jessica Thornsby is a technical writer based in Derbyshire, UK. When she isn’t obsessing over all things tech, she enjoys researching her family tree, and spending far too much time with her house rabbits.

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Homekit Weekly: Why Homekit Secure Video Matters For Smart Home Privacy

After I reviewed the eufyCam 2 and Netatmo cameras, I got several emails asking why I am so passionate about HomeKit Secure Video when it has had a somewhat of a buggy/slow rollout. Rather than respond to each person individually, I thought it would be better to write about why HomeKit Secure Video matters, and why I think it’s a fundamental part of the HomeKit experience. Before you invest in a home camera platform, you need to consider long term security.

HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.

What is HomeKit Secure Video?

HomeKit Secure Video was announced at WWDC 2023. Apple, known for its commitment to privacy, began allowing HomeKit enabled cameras to build in support for using iCloud storage for video storage/playback. It requires a 200GB iCloud storage plan to support one camera and a 2TB storage plan to support up to five cameras. You must have a Home Hub set up to make it all work. You can use the HomePod, Apple TV, or an iPad as a Home Hub.

By storing your camera recordings in iCloud, you can trust that only you will have access to them. In my house, we have eufyCameras on the outside and a Netatmo camera on the inside. All of these cameras are HomeKit Secure Video compatible.

While I’d never put a camera in a bedroom area, I still consider all camera footage something that only I should be able to access. If you are using a company that stores all your footage in the cloud, how do you verify that no one has accessed it? Only footage that has end to end encryption tied to it can give you that peace of mind. As we saw in 2023, Ring had to fire employees that had improperly accessed cameras.

According to The Intercept, Ring’s engineers and executives have “highly privileged access” to live camera feeds from customers’ devices. This includes both doorbells facing the outside world, as well as cameras inside a person’s home. A team tasked with annotating video to aid in object recognition captured “people kissing, firing guns, and stealing.” [Update: According to Ring, annotation is only conducted on “publicly shared Ring videos.”] U.S. employees specifically had access to a video portal intended for technical support that reportedly allowed “unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras.” What’s surprising is how this support tool was apparently not restricted to only employees that dealt with customers.

Ring has disputed some of the claims, but the damage was done in my eyes. I will only allow cameras in my house that use end to end encryption. I don’t want to have to hope companies have strict security and auditing of customer cameras. I want the system to be designed where they don’t need high protection for customer camera footage because they don’t even have access to it. HomeKit Secure Video is to home video footage as iMessage is to messaging. It’s secure from the ground up, and it should be the expectation for all consumers.

Why HomeKit Secure Video matters

As our world becomes more connected, it’s even more important to consider the security of your data from the beginning. In a few decades, there will no longer be homes vs. smart homes. All homes will be smart homes. By starting with a secure foundation, customers can know that they can have all the benefits of modern conveniences while knowing their privacy is still intact.

As you think about putting devices in your home that can hear and see you, consider the companies that are making these products. What are their business models? What is their track record of protecting customer privacy? Is privacy at the core of what the company values? In my experience, the only major tech company that cares deeply about your privacy is Apple, and that is why I believe HomeKit Secure Video is a fundamental part of the smart home experience.

Here are a few cameras that support HomeKit Secure Video at the moment:

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Eleven Ways You Can Use Vr To Escape Your Home

Virtual reality is not nearly as popular as video game consoles or smartphones, but the technology is improving rapidly. Software is getting better, hardware is getting cheaper, and fewer people are coming away from these experiences feeling utterly nauseous.

And although VR and gaming sometimes overlap, you should know that the former has plenty more to it. Almost every real-world experience now has a virtual equivalent, and we’re at the stage where you can go almost anywhere, and do almost anything with a VR visor.

If you’re feeling like the walls are closing in and you need a break from the same old scenery, gear up and let VR transport you somewhere completely new in a matter of seconds.

1. Apollo 11 VR HD

Book your spot on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission and fly to the moon and back in virtual reality. You can wander around and interact with the command and lunar modules, and the Moon’s surface, or just sit back and let the experience play out. The VR app combines high-resolution graphics and renders with archive footage from the actual mission for a truly memorable ride.

Apollo 11 VR HD is $10 for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

2. T. rex: Skeleton Crew

The exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History helped develop this game, but you might want to skip those and jump straight to the age of the dinosaurs. T.rex: Skeleton Crew brings these prehistoric beasts and their world back to life so you can get a feel of what it was like to walk among them, and learn about the most famous dino of the lot—Tyrannosaurus rex.

T. rex: Skeleton Crew is $5 for HTC Vive.

3. Everest VR

This experience may be the perfect thing to help you get over your fear of heights. Everest VR

Take in the grandeur and the spectacle of the planet’s highest mountain without leaving your home. The experience will take you all the way to the summit, along five stages that match key points on the route up. Combining photorealistic graphics worthy of any video game with 360-degree videos taken from real expeditions, it’s probably the next-best thing to actually making it up Mount Everest.

Everest VR is $15 for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

4. Google Earth VR

Google Earth VR is an experience good enough to turn hardened VR naysayers into true believers. From this experience alone, you won’t actually get to stand in the middle of Manhattan or on the edge of the Grand Canyon, but it’ll feel like you are. Take a 3D visual and audio tour of any spot on the planet you like—courtesy of the high-resolution mapping data in Google Earth—and fly above famous landmarks, national parks, and cities. And to make things even better, it’s totally free.

Google Earth VR is free for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

5. Island Explorer VR

If taking a relaxing drive around a virtual island sounds like an appealing way to pass the time, you’re going to love Island Explorer VR. There are no challenges to overcome, no one else to meet, and nothing to do except roam around at your own pace. It’s not the longest virtual reality experience, but it’s a fun and laid-back way of losing yourself and practicing your driving skills for a few minutes.

Island Explorer VR is free for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

6. The Climb

You might get a little workout from The Climb. The Climb

While there are hints of a game in The Climb, we’re going to claim it as a non-game due to its tourist mode—though admittedly you will have to exert yourself a bit to make it up whatever mountain you decide to tackle. There are four fictional environments to explore, either at night or in broad daylight, and the views are simply breathtaking as you get higher and higher. If you suffer from vertigo, this experience may not be worth the admission fee. Though if you want to overcome it, maybe it is.

The Climb is $30 for Oculus Rift.

7. Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass

The first VR experience from the Louvre Museum focuses on its most famous exhibit, and it’s a new and immersive way of engaging with Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece. Learn about the artist’s techniques and the latest modern-day scientific research on the Mona Lisa, while enjoying the artwork without any of the distractions of the thronging crowds that you’d normally have to put up with.

Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass is free for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

8. Allumette

Virtual reality cinema is still in its infancy, but new titles are coming out all the time, and there are some stunning (if short) stories to immerse yourself into. One such story is Allumette, the tale of a young orphan girl who lives in a city in the clouds. But because this is VR, you’re not just watching the movie play out—you’re actually living in its world, able to explore and look around freely. Expect a lot more from VR filmmakers in the future.

Allumette is free for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

9. Memoria: Stories of La Garma

Virtual reality also allows you to visit places you wouldn’t be able to access in real life. Memoria: Stories of La Garma

Memoria: Stories of La Garma is $6 for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

10. Bigscreen

Bigscreen is free for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

11. Nature Treks VR

Nature Treks VR quite simply lets you wander through nature, at your own speed. And the virtual sights might even be better than whatever happens to be outside your own front door. You control the weather and the time of day, can meet more than 60 different animals on your travels, and there are a variety of settings, including beaches and forests. You can even take a dive underwater or a trip into space if you feel the need.

Nature Treks VR is $10 for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Por Reyes, Regala Una Smart Home

Hace años nos hubiera costado imaginar que dispositivos que utilizamos a diario como el timbre de la puerta o un cepillo de dientes podría conectarse a Internet en el futuro. Cada vez son más los gadgets y que pueden ayudarte a convertir tu casa en una auténtica Smart Home.

Hemos seleccionado nuestros dispositivos inteligentes favoritos para que estos Reyes puedas sorprender a tu amor (o familiar, amigo o compañero de trabajo) con uno estos regalos para la casa. También puedes comprarlos para ti, claro.

Altavoz inteligente Amazon Echo Dot 5

Best Prices Today:

Amazon vende sus productos Echo en España y México, lo que significa que quienes se encuentren en uno de estos dos países pueden disfrutar del amplio catálogo de altavoces inteligentes de la compañía, que funcionan con Alexa.

Uno de nuestros preferidos es el Echo Dot 5. La quinta generación presenta algunas novedades respecto a los modelos anteriores, que tiene ahora más prestaciones y la capacidad de ampliar el wifi de casa.

También dispone de una mejorada calidad de sonido. Eso te permitirá escuchar tanto la música como la voz del asistente virtual de forma nítida. Nos gusta también que el usuario pueda ajustar los bajos y los agudos manualmente.

Leer más:

Pantalla inteligente Google Nest Hub

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Las pantallas inteligentes, o smart displays, son una de las últimas categorías en llegar al sector de los dispositivos inteligentes. Se trata, básicamente, de unos altavoces inteligentes con pantalla incluida.

No tienen la funcionalidad total de una tablet, sino que se trata de unos dispositivos más sencillos que ofrecen todas las ventajas de tener un asistente virtual con alguna ayuda visual.

Una de nuestras favoritas es la Google Nest Hub (2ª generación), aunque te recomendamos que eches un vistazo a nuestra selección de mejores smart displays para ver más ejemplos. Si prefieres Alexa, entonces apuesta por el Echo Show.

Leer más:

Cámara de seguridad Netatmo Presence

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Una de las áreas más obvias que querrás cubrir con un dispositivo inteligente será la seguridad de tu casa. Tendrás a cambio una gran variedad de beneficios: imágenes a tiempo real, almacenamiento en la nube e incluso seguros inteligentes.

Sin duda, una de las mejores cámaras de seguridad exterior inteligentes en la actualidad es esta Netatmo Presence. Tiene un diseño muy sofisticado, incluye un foco integrado muy útil y no necesitas pagar una suscripción.

No necesitarás demasiado para instalarla, pero en cambio su rendimiento será el óptimo para tu casa. Detectará la presencia de personas, animales y automóviles y serás notificado con una alerta en tu smartphone.

Termostato Hive Active Heating

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Poder controlar la temperatura de tu casa con un dispositivo inteligente te permitirá ahorrar energía, lo que significa que podrás contribuir a la causa ecológica y ahorrar dinero. Con un termostato como este Hive te ayudará a reducir el gasto de tus facturas.

Hive es sin duda una de nuestras compañías de referencia en el sector de los termostatos inteligentes. Su instalación es muy sencilla y su precio es bastante razonable. Además, es compatible con muchos otros dispositivos inteligentes.

La interfaz de la app es muy intuitiva y no te llevará mucho tiempo aprender a usarla. Lo mismo vale para los botones del termostato en sí. También es muy fácil conectarlo a otros dispositivos inteligentes de la marca, como las luces Smart Lightning.

Kit de inicio Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance (3 bombillas)

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Una de las primeras cosas en las que piensa uno cuando se plantea convertir su casa en una Smart Home es la iluminación inteligente. La mayoría de las bombillas inteligentes te permiten controlar su brillo, su tono e incluso su color.

Las bombillas de este tipo son capaces de entender comandos de voz, pero también puedes programarlas para que se enciendan y se apagan a ciertas horas del día, o cuando entres y salgas de casa, desde una aplicación.

Este kit de Philips Hue es un buen inicio para introducirse al fascinante mundo de las luces inteligentes. Incluye tres bombillas que cambian de color, así como con un puente y el mando para poder controlarlas.

Enchufe inteligente mini con wifi Tapo P100

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Los enchufes inteligentes son una forma muy sencilla de poder controlar de forma remota, con limitaciones, aquellos dispositivos que tienes en casa y que no son inteligentes. Uno de nuestros preferidos es este TP-Link con wifi.

Como ocurre con otros modelos, este enchufe inteligente te permitirá abrir y cerrar el circuito electrónico asociado con esa toma de corriente, utilizar un temporizador para programar o incluso encenderlo y apagarlo según dónde te encuentres en cada momento.

Nos gusta este de TP-Link especialmente porque no necesitas tener otro mando para poder utilizarlo. Además, puedes conseguir el pack de cuatro con un descuento.

Cepillo eléctrico Oral-B Genius X

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De acuerdo. El precio de este Oral-B Genius X puede parecer una barbaridad para un cepillo de dientes por muy eléctrico y inteligente que sea. Es cierto, pero tampoco te costará demasiado encontrar algún descuento.

En cualquier caso, si no te preocupa el coste, debes saber que se trata de un cepillo que combina todas las prestaciones de última generación con una aplicación que indicará tu localización, tu hábitos de limpieza bucal y otra información de salud dental.

Es cierto que quizás no sea uno de los dispositivos inteligentes más imprescindibles de la lista -de hecho, seguramente sea el más prescindible-, pero le será de utilidad a aquellos que sientan que necesitan un poco de ayuda en cuanto a su cepillado diario.

Báscula Withings Body Cardio

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¿Una báscula puede ser inteligente? No nos extrañaría que al principio tuvieras dudas al respecto, pero de la misma forma que un smartwatch puede darte información sobre tu salud, también puede hacer lo mismo una báscula.

Es el caso de esta Withings Body Cardio. Con ella, te será muy fácil saber cuánto pesas, pero también recoger información muy útil como tu índice de masa corporal, grasa, hídrica, muscular y ósea. También dispone de un monitor cardiaco.

Nos gusta especialmente que puedan ser hasta ocho los usuarios que utilicen las prestaciones inteligentes de esta báscula y también que pueda sincronizarse con otros dispositivos de Withings.

Robot aspirador Eufy RoboVac 30C

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Los robots aspiradores ya no son dispositivos nuevos, nuevos. Hace ya algunos años que llegaron al mercado y podemos encontrar uno en la mayoría de hogares. Sin embargo, no hace tanto que se han subido al barco de los dispositivos electrónicos.

El Eufy RoboVac 30C es un buen ejemplo de robot aspirador que puede ser controlado a través de una aplicación móvil para darle instrucciones como la hora en la que tiene que empezar a limpiar la casa.

También podrás usar la app para comprobar qué zonas ha limpiado y qué no. Deberás primero crear un plano de tu casa y luego ya podrás indicarle al robot aspirador inteligente qué estancias quieres que barra y qué no.

Apple Is Bringing Siri To Smart Home Appliances

Apple is bringing Siri to third-party devices, but it’s not what you think. Rather than let Android smartphone owners use its digital assistant, Apple is bringing Siri to smart home devices.

Siri is coming to smart home devices

Apple hasn’t spent much stage time discussing this feature.

Actually, the WWDC21 keynote mentioned this in passing and Apple’s press releases, product pages and developer documentation aren’t helping either. From what we could gather, however, it looks like developers of devices that are compatible with Apple’s HomeKit protocol can bring Siri to their smart home appliances.

So, what’s the catch?

Well, the user will need to have a HomePod speaker for this to work.

That’s because a compatible device simply relays voice requests to Siri—Apple’s documentation states that this feature requires a HomePod or HomePod mini speaker with HomePod software 15.0 or later and a compatible HomeKit accessory.

As a result, you’ll be able to ask Siri to, say, set a reminder from a compatible HomeKit device even if your HomePod cannot hear you (but, again, you must own one for this to work).

Apple illustrated this feature by showing Siri being used to control a smart thermostat. Some HomeKit developers have already confirmed supporting this functionality. Ecobee’s SmartThermostat, for instance, will get Hey Siri support with a firmware update later this year.

When’s this feature arriving?

This feature is arriving publicly when iOS 15 gets out of beta and releases in the fall.

At launch, Siri on third-party devices will support the Personal Requests and Intercom features, as well as timers and alarms. Plus, developers who would like to implement Siri functionality for their devices must be a part of Apple’s MFi program for HomeKit accessories.

Siri also supports voice commands for controlling HomeKit devices at specific times, like “Hey Siri, turn off my bedroom lights at 7pm” or “Hey Siri, turn off all the lights when I leave.”

Siri on other Apple platforms has received some love, too.

Other Siri changes across Apple OS platforms

Other Siri changes across Apple platforms include the following items:

Siri message announcements

The ability for Siri to announce incoming texts and iMessages first appeared in iOS 13.2 that released publicly in October 2023. With iOS 15, this feature now works with third-party apps, like Uber Eat for example. Also, Siri can announce incoming messages in CarPlay. On top of that, Siri can now announce notifications and reminders on your AirPods.

On-device processing

The biggest annoyance with Siri is its reliance on the Apple cloud for speech-to-text processing and getting answers. On iOS 15, Siri speech recognition is performed directly on the device (similar to the Dictation feature in supported languages), meaning Siri can now understand your request without an Internet connection.

And while some answers will require Siri to interact with web sources, many Siri requests can now be processed without an internet connection. These include, of course, simple things such as launching apps, setting timers and alarms, changing settings, controlling music and so forth.

Oh, and Apple’s natural-sounding Siri voices are now available in more languages.

Labeling Apple Watch timers

watchOS 8 brings multiple timers to the Apple Watch. With Siri, each timer can be given a specific label, voice-free, like “Cooking Timer”.

Running shortcuts on the Mac

macOS 12 brings the Shortcuts app from iOS to macOS, and you can use Siri for Mac to run your favorite shortcuts hands-free.

New piracy controls

iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 include new privacy controls in the Siri settings.

Tidbits

You can ask Siri to share what’s on your screen during a FaceTime call. Siri now understands onscreen context, letting you say things like “Message them I’m on my way” when looking at a contact in the Contacts app. Siri now maintains context between requests. And Siri on your wrist can get you spoken translations (“How do you say hello in Japanese?”) in watchOS 8.

Last but not least, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 include new privacy controls in the Siri settings.

4 Ways You Can Automate Your Home With Smartphone

1. Unlock Doors

Keys may grant you access to your home, but they don’t give you complete control. That’s what a smartphone is for. With that 5-inch touchscreen, you can turn off the lights when you’re away, turn on the TV, cut power to various appliances, and, yes, unlock the front door without needing a key. Doing so doesn’t come cheap, but it’s a surprisingly easy task. So if you’re ready to make the investment, here are multiple ways to control your home from anywhere using your phone.

The front door is one of the first things visitors will notice, and if you’re seeking to impress others, this is where to start. The Kevo Kwikset Bluetooth-enabled door lock lets you turn your smartphone into a key. Just tap your finger against the ring around the keyhole, and if your phone is within range, it will open the door for you.

2. Manage Power Outlets

Belkin has an entire line of products under its WeMo brand that give you remote control over power outlets, light switches, and more. Just install the app onto your smartphone and plug a WeMo Switch into whichever outlet you want to control. You can then toggle that outlet regardless of whether or not you’re home. This is great if you’re thirty minutes away from home and just realized you left the hall lamp on. Likewise, it’s a great way to scare the pants off of house guests. If you then want the lights to come on automatically when you get back, be sure to pick up a WeMo Switch + Motion.

3. Adjust Thermostats

While you’re at it, don’t forget about heating and cooling. Traditional thermostats let users set the temperature manually, and some even let them designate different levels for the various times of the day. But the Nest thermostat takes things even further. This “thinking” thermostat learns your preferences over time, and when it’s off the mark, you can control it remotely using, you guessed it, your mobile phones.

4. Boil Water

If you just have to have a hot cup of tea before leaving the house in order to be a functional member of society, iKettle might just shave a few minutes off your morning routine. This electric kettle pairs with a mobile app that can serve as your alarm clock each morning. It will wake you up and ask if you want iKettle to warm up water for you. Go ahead and say yes. The kettle won’t turn on if there isn’t any water inside, so you don’t have to worry about setting off the smoke alarm.

And speaking of smoke alarms, Nest also has one of those coming down the pipeline. They’re not on store shelves just yet, but you can make a pre-order if you’re already sold on the idea.

Conclusion

Bertel King, Jr.

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