Putting technology into your home can make everyday tasks more convenient, more energy efficient and a lot more interesting. Imagine if you could add some of those high-tech tweaks to your next get-together? Now that's a party.
Smart home technology can alleviate some of your hosting duties; the right gadgets can turn on lights throughout the house, tweak room temperatures and even stand in for a DJ. And believe it or not, many of these devices are easy and surprisingly affordable. Here are six to add to your entertaining arsenal stat.
① IKEA Trådfri Lighting Kit ($80)
It's not the easiest to pronounce (just tell guests it's Swedish for "wire free"), but IKEA's new solution makes it easy to create a party mood with smart lighting. The starter kit includes a hub that hooks onto your home network, two light bulbs and a remote control; you can control the on, off and dimming functions through iOS and Android apps.
② Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus ($90)
When paired with the Philips Hue Bridge, this smart solution can put lighting into places you never thought possible, including under kitchen cabinets, on staircases, around doors and down hallways. That's because it can bend, shape, extend and be mounted almost anywhere. It can also deliver colored lights and special effects, making it a must-have for parties.
③ Amazon Echo ($180)
Amazon Alexa is a whiz in the kitchen and can also be the life of any party. That's because the voice assistant can crank out the perfect soundtrack simply by heeding your verbal direction. Those same vocal commands can also control lighting and other smart home devices, place food orders, and settle trivia disputes among party guests.
④ iDevices Switch ($50)
This easy plug-in can add smart home features to any electronic gadget in the house. It sits between the outlet and your device, allowing you to power and monitor lights, fans, coffee makers, music players and more, with your iOS and Android devices; it also works with Siri and Amazon Alexa. iDevices Switch even has a built-in night-light to guide guests in dark areas or match to the room's color scheme.
⑤ Friday Smart Lock ($249)
This device can greet guests from anywhere in the house, freeing you from door duty. To unlock and lock the door, either tap into the controls on iOS or Android devices, or ask Siri to do it for you. There's even an option to grant a temporary smartphone-based key for guests, so they can come and go as they please.
⑥ ecobee4 Smart Thermostat ($249)
You want guests to be comfortable, but that doesn't mean you should be making constant temperature tweaks. This smart thermostat, now available for preorder, can do that automatically by pairing with up to 32 wireless sensors located around your home, which measure occupancy and temperature. And if you want to crank the AC a little higher, just say the word—the built-in Alexa voice system will make it happen.
Rachel Cericola is a freelance writer who lives in the perfect spot in New England, convenient to both Boston and Providence. Follow her on Twitter at @rachelcericola.
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