If the latest in home automation is any indication, HAL's descendants may be closer than we think (and hopefully better behaved). From eKey technology by Kwikset to smart cutting boards by Orange Chef, innovative technologies are revamping the analog home one room at a time. While I eagerly await the perfect multiuse automated tool (where's Doctor Who's sonic screwdriver when you need it?), here are five emerging technologies that'll take your home one giant leap forward into the connected world.
Front Door, Automatic
Approaching the front door only to realize you've tossed your keys into a black hole (read: your bag) is one of those small but seemingly unavoidable annoyances. Now you can bypass the bag search with Kwikset Kevo. This Bluetooth-enabled enclosure is designed to replace the front-door locks of yore. As for the key? It's your smartphone. The eKey allows you to add, delete, and temporarily suspend users from your eKey system, controlling who can enter your house at any given time. You'll never have to change your locks again.
Orange Chef has been making smart products for a while, beginning with a no-nonsense protective sleeve for your iPad that allows you to cook without smearing chicken guts all over your tablet. Now, they're taking smart cooking a step further with Prep Pad, a food scale that links to the Countertop App to help you portion out ingredients and track what you eat. For those in pursuit of a healthy, balanced diet, the Prep Pad and Countertop app provide the ultimate data visualization by graphically displaying the nutrients, proteins, carbs, and fats in everything you cook.
While the Beddit won't help you get to bed, the wraparound sleep monitoring device will help ensure you get the best shuteye possible once you're there. The Beddit's ultrathin sensor goes in your bed, under your sheets, and tracking environmental factors along with your own movements throughout the night. When you wake up, Beddit reports how you slept and what steps you can take to up your sleep game. It's available for preorder now on Amazon. For less than $150, better sleep could be on the horizon — no nightcap required.
Home security just got a lot easier with Canary, an app-controlled home monitoring system. Users simply plug in one to four Canary devices (depending on the amount of coverage desired) and connect them to a smartphone app. The Canary delivers live-streaming video, audio, and temperature data straight to your palm (which has a smartphone in it, right?). The longer Canary is in your home, the more it learns about the patterns of your day-to-day life — this enables it to make observations and create data that you can use to monitor unusual activity. Canary will be offered in May 2014 for Indiegogo backers, and in July the systems will begin shipping preorders.
Heir to the Microwave
Every once in a while, an analog approach combined with 21st century wizardry can result in a wonderful thing — in this case, the perfect steak. The technique of continuous and submerged low-temperature cooking has been around for a long time, but now it's easier than ever to attempt at home with the SousVide Supreme. With this gadget on your countertop, you'll never have to worry about burning dinner while your judgmental in-laws are spending the weekend. Check out this review for evidence of what this kitchen superstar can cook up.
As more of our lives become automated and app-controlled, it's only a matter of time before emerging home tech transforms our living spaces into something more in line with the Jetsons'. And where better to start than at your front door?
Nina Lincoff is a writer living in Miami, originally from the Bay Area.