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Future smart homes will have plenty of bells, whistles

By: Rachel Tepper Paley Bloomberg
March 24, 2018 Updated: March 24, 2018 at 9:07 am
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Eight Sleep's smart mattress. (MUST CREDIT: Eight Sleep)

Technology may come and go, but some things never change. Home will always be home. It'll just be a heck of a lot smarter.

Granted, some tech is better than other tech. No one needs a Wi-Fi-connected juice press that doesn't actually juice anything (see: Juicero). Gadgets that offer real utility, such as a smart oven or open source furniture, stand a better chance of becoming ubiquitous. If you're skeptical, think of it this way: In-home refrigeration was the crazy, newfangled invention of 1913.

What will the home of the future look like? We took stock of the most exciting tech-forward home products on the market.

The high-tech living room

Thirty-nine million Americans - 1 in 6 - now have a smart speaker in their homes, and all signs indicate this figure will only creep higher. In the living room of the future, smart speakers will be a central feature, with newer models connected to every element in your home, from the lightbulbs to the lock on your front door to the thermostat. They will become so essential, you won't think twice about plunking down $400 for one.

Watching TV and movies will be a wildly different experience. Why devote precious square footage in your living room to a giant screen when you could have one that effortlessly rolls up and out of sight, like the one LG Display debuted at this year's Consumer Electronics Show? Or you may choose not to have a TV at all and opt instead for a superhigh-resolution short-throw projector that turns any white wall into your personal movie theater. Sony's new $30,000 model would fit the bill, assuming the price comes down.

It will be much easier to design your living space. Apps and online platforms such as Modsy and Hutch will use virtual and augmented reality to help you visualize how a couch or chair will look in your home. You'll have lots of options: Modular, open-source furniture will dominate interior design trends, taking the lead from Ikea's Tom Dixon-designed Delaktig couch, which has more than 97 configurations.

Smart cooking

The ultimate goal of kitchen technology is not to cook for you but to make you a better cook. Smart ovens will be outfitted with cameras and digital thermometers, helping you monitor your food as it bakes. Instead of hoping the "medium-hot" setting on your gas range is hot enough, smart skillets will take guessing out of the equation by sizzling food at a precise temperature that you'll set on an app.

Smart refrigerators will reduce waste by letting you know when the carrots are about to go bad and offering several recipes for them to boot. The smart fridge from LG will even send cooking instructions to your smart oven.

Tech enters the bedroom

The latest wave of home-focused technology is about making everyday life better and easier, and that begins with a good night's sleep. Sleep trackers such as Eight's smart mattress and smartphone apps Sleep Time and Sleep Cycle will use sensors to measure your sleep metrics, while smart alarm clocks such as Amazon's mini-Echo will help you begin your day on the right foot with time, weather and news.

Need a gentler wake-up? The smart aromatherapy alarm clocks from Nox Aroma will sense when you've reached your sleep cycle's lightest point and release a wake-up scent of your choice.

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