Golden Shirt Awards: Best tech for the home

Technology companies are working on ways to make our homes smarter, more connected, convenient and energy aware.

The following products exemplify this goal, winning our GadgetGuy Golden Shirt Award for helping to bring the home of future closer to the present.

Belkin WiFi light switches

Belkin has been playing with connected power-points for a while, with WiFi-controlled wall sockets that enable to you to turn an air conditioner on and off simply by using your phone or tablet. But it’s the company’s light switches that really pique our attention.

With the help of an electrician you can swap out your regular light switches for Belkin’s WiFi switches ($70-80 each). Download the smartphone app and you can remotely turn your house lights on and off to simulate occupancy while you’re away on holiday, or just switch off lights you may have forgotten to attend to before leaving home or going to bed. Install the included sensors and the switches can turn lights on and off at sunrise and sunset, or when you enter and leave a room.

Check out our hands-on with the Belkin light switches…

Samsung WiFi laundry

The January 2013 Consumer Electronics Show previewed how more appliances would become connected to the wireless networks in our homes, and Samsung realised this later in that year with its WiFi-enabled Washer Dryer Combo.

The company’s app connects the washer and dryer to your Android device and lets you monitor wash and dry cycle times, know when your wash cycle has finished, and even remotely start the machine. This is handy if, say, you have noise restrictions in your apartment – simply load your grubby clobber into the machine at night and start it up the next morning when you’re waking up.

Now, if only the WiFi washer would find our clothes and get the change out of our pockets before washing. Next time, Samsung. Next time.

Check out Samsung’s WiFi laundry machine…

Nespresso UMilk

We’re appreciate any machine that makes it easier to make food, and Nespresso’s 2013 UMilk perfected an appliance we’d fallen in love with in 2012.

Designed to be small enough to fit into even the smallest kitchen space, the original Nespresso U made it easy to product a ripper cup of espresso, and the 2013 update – the UMilk – added a bay for the much-loved Aeroccino milk frothing unit. In doing so, Nespresso perfected its classic pod coffee maker.

Check out our review of the Nespresso UMilk…

Dyson AirBlade at home

Available in commercial bathrooms at airports, offices, and restaurants, Dyson’s AirBlade technology has changed hand dryers for the better, providing a quick and easy way to dry your hands after going to the loo, and without the need to use paper towels or touch any potentially germy fabric towels or dispenser units. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take this technology home?

Dyson made this possible (sort of) in 2013, by wrapping a smaller-sized AirBlade unit into a tap system. The AirBlade unit would trigger after you’d finished washing your hands under the central tap, with the water from your hands spraying into the sink as fans housed within two branched cylinders force-dry your fingers.

The system isn’t quite intended for domestic homes, but Dyson told us that families could have it installed. And while the noise could be a touch loud for the household bathroom, the AirBlade would allow you to put the hand towels into the linen cupboard for good.

Check out the smaller Dyson AirBlade…

2013’s future of appliances

So many of the appliances we saw at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas last January didn’t make it to Australia. These included an oven from LG that could be monitored and controlled from your smartphone, and a fridge from Chinese company TCL that featured a transparent touchscreen inside the door, and the ability to let you monitor your energy usage and order food from the door itself.

The good news is that we’ve seen these products and they – or something very much like them (or better!) – are on the way, bringing the home of the future yet another year closer.

Check out the future of appliances…