5 Brilliant Ideas for Home Tech

This week is Food Tech week. We've found 5 brilliant ideas for home tech that could help you deal with lock down.

This week was supposed to be the London Food Tech Festival week. Whilst they taken took the decision to move the festival to October, but we thought we might bring you 5 brilliant ideas for home tech that could help you deal with lock down.

It might seems a bit odd to think that having internet connected devices in the kitchen would be a thing. But then a few years ago, smart speakers, like Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home devices, where thought weird. Whilst some people have issues over the ethics of smart speakers, over 20% of UK households have a smart speaker. So, clearly smart speakers, and smart devices more generally, are here to stay. We’ve rounded up 5 tech’ed up devices that could make your time in the kitchen cleaner, easier, more efficient and maybe even more tasty.

Staying cool

Being on lock down means we’re all spending more time at home that we were six months ago. If you’re like me, then quite a bit of that time will be in the kitchen; opening and closing cupboards looking for the food that wasn’t there 5 minutes ago when you last looked. You think to yourself that you have to remember that food when you next go to the shop…if they have it in stock. Or worse still, you’re at the supermarket and you see something and you’re not sure if you need it. 

20 years ago, I remember showing students an animation about how data travels around the internet, and one of the thing it suggested was ‘with the proper set up you could find out if you have the makings for chicken cacciatore or if you have to go shopping’. Well, the proper set up is here. In fact there are a few that have been around for a couple of years. With fridges, the ‘smart’ bit refers to their connectivity. How smart your fridge is, will be determined, unsurprisingly, by how deep your pocket is and probably how much space you have. 

Shut the fridge door!

The Samsung Family Hub smart fridge/freezer

Front of the queue is the Samsung Family Hub. This comes in an American-style format (double width, with two full height doors). The thing that attracts your eye first is the big touch screen. The screen lets you write messages to other household members, but it also has a calendar, lets you play music, video and TV, and displayed recipes. What’s more, there are cameras in the fridge that you can access from a mobile phone app, so you can see what’s in the fridge while you’re at the shops. The app is available on Android and iOS.

To help reduce your food waste, there’s a food reminder that will let you know if any food is going out of date, providing you’ve added it to the app. So at this point, you’ll be thinking ‘I can just open the door and check it.’ And you’d be right. But put your environmental head on. Every time you open the fridge, you warm it up. Only a bit, I agree, but you still need to use more energy to cool the inside back down again. Not opening the door actually reduces your energy bill.

The LG InstView Door in Door fridge/freezer.

If that all seems a bit too science fiction, then LG have a slightly different take. Their InstaView fridge freezers have a glass panel on the front, that’s normally blacked out, but knock twice on the glass and the inside of the fridge lights up, so you can look at the contents without opening the door. This is the LG way of keeping your electricity bill down. Aside from that it’s a normal American-style fridge freezer.

The Bosch Serie 6 fridge/freezer with Home Connect.

Others, like the Bosch Serie 6 link to a mobile phone app, called Home Connect. The app does several things:

  • Lets you control the appliance’s temperature remotely.
  • Triggers an alarm if the door has been left open.
  • Lets you see what’s in your fridge thanks to cameras in the door.
  • Offers guidance on the best way to organise your food to maintain freshness for longer.

Now wash your hands!

The Dettol No Touch Hand Wash System.

Over the last few months, it’s been drilled into us about the importance of washing our hands. The less you touch, the more chance you have of staying cleaner. One device that could help you with this is an automatic soap dispenser, like the Dettol No Touch Hand Wash System. Whilst they may not be smart in a connected-to-the-internet sense, they can be a useful bit of simple tech to have about the house. They have been around for a while and don’t have to cost that much either. You fill them up with a liquid soap (if you can find it in the supermarket). When you need to wash you hands, you wave your hand near an infrared sensor and the soap is dispensed. You will need some batteries to power the sensor, so check the individual product for details.

Know your nutrients

The NutriBullet Balance blender

Smoothies are a great way to the start the day. A blender offers the good method of creating a smoothie or protein shake. You’ll know the concept for a blender. Shove food in the container. Blitz it. Drink it. Hopefully it will taste nice.

If you’re particularly health-conscious, you’ll be weighing your ingredients to make sure you’re getting the right balance of vitamins and nutrients.

The NutriBullet Balance stands apart and introduces the concept of smart to the blender market. It has a built in weighing scale and a partner smart phone app (android and iOS). The app connects to the blender via BlueTooth and provides nutritional data for the ingredients being added. This means you’ll know exactly how good your smoothie is for you. You can use the app to generate a shopping list of ingredients that you’d like for the upcoming week. It also offers ideas for other recipes and can offer suggestions if you tell it what’s in your cupboards. Sadly, it won’t tell you if you’ll like it though!

Smart toaster

The Sage Smart Toaster.

I’ll be honest, our toaster’s not great. we have to turn it down for bagels. Turn it up for toast and up again for crumpets. But then we have to change the settings again depending on whether we have one slice or two, or if its the second round of toast in succession. Often, we’ll turn it down for a bagel, then forget to turn it up, or turn it up for a crumpet and forget to turn it down.

I haven’t found a psychic toaster that knows what I want to toast, so I’ll guess I will need to concentrate a bit more.

However, there are some smart toasters that might help a bit. I should point out that ‘smart’ in this context is more of a ‘that’s a good idea’ rather than ordering you a slice of toast online.

The Sage Smart Toaster has a few additional buttons that make me excited:

  • ‘A Quick Look’, which raises the item being toasted, then lowers it, without interrupting the cycle,
  • ‘A Bit More’ which keeps it toasting a bit longer.

Buttons labelled ‘Crumpet’ and ‘Frozen’ complete the line up.

Finally, there’s an light bar that lets you know how much longer you have to wait for your toast. Sage also produce ‘the Bit More Toaster’ which the same buttons except for ‘A Quick Look’. Consequently, it’s a bit cheaper than the Smart Toaster.

Clean up in aisle 10!

Finally after all this smoothie making with a side of toast, there may be a bit of a mess on the floor. If you don’t have a dog for an automatic floor cleaner, then maybe a robot vacuum will help.

iRobot Roomba i7

These devices map out the rooms of the house and periodically make their way around the room collecting what they can. Depending on the model the battery can last up to and hour, maybe two before a recharge is needed.

Be warned, they have limitations: they are not as powerful as your traditional bicep-working model, and because they are small, they might need emptying more frequently; but some, like the iRobot Roomba i7+ empty themselves at their charging station. Some of the on-board sensors are downward-facing in order to help the cleaner avoid tumbling down stairs. Other sensors ensure that any obstacles in their path should be avoided. Bear in mind, their purpose is to manage the low-level dust, fur, food and hair that get generated all the time. They are not made for tidying your kid’s floor-drobe.

A floordrobe

Smart living

Maybe you don’t like being surrounded by tech, but a few select items can make just that little bit of difference so you can concentrate on the important things in your life. Brilliant home tech doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be practical and add benefit to your family.

Often it just needs someone to add something obvious to an existing, ordinary household item to set it apart. This could be a cool feature or something to help you, if you forget. Our 5 brilliant ideas for home tech do not make a complete list, but they might give you some ideas about how you can make you home work better for you.

What home tech do you have? What home tech would you like?