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Tech Savvy: Smart homes takes thinking out of maintenance

The Nest Learning Thermostat learns what temperatures you like, turns itself down when you’re away and connects to your smartphone or tablet. Submitted photo

Home is where the heart is, but now it can be where the brain is, too.

A smart home is a home in which the appliances are connected with each other and with a smartphone or tablet, so that they can "communicate" with each other, so long as they have access to the internet, such as by Wi-Fi.

Some examples of what a smart home can do if equipped with the right technology include controlling the temperature, the ability to turn on and off lights and appliances, and doors and locks that automatically open based on remote control commands and proximity of the user.

"Last year proved to be the year of the smart home. Technology in this market continues to grow leaps and bounds, and Zion Market Research predicts it will reach $53.45 billion by 2022," according to Forbes magazine.

One of the more buzzworthy smart home devices is the Nest thermostat, which was launched in 2011 and connects to the home's wireless network.

A corresponding, downloadable smartphone app allows the homeowner to remotely check the temperature or better yet, heat up or cool down the house before you even return home.

Other applications of the smart home concept include such exciting things as cooking, cleaning and lawn maintenance. Again, most of the devices must be Wi-Fi capable and control via smartphone apps.

Imagine if smoking ribs required less monitoring and more enjoying. The Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker allows the user to control the temperature remotely with a smartphone app, which will let the user know when the food is ready.

The June is a smart countertop oven that includes Wi-Fi, a camera and artificial intelligence that allows it to weigh, monitor and cook whatever is desired.

"All you have to do is pop in what you want to eat, wait until the oven asks if the food is indeed what it thinks it is, select how you'd like it cooked, and let it do its thing," according to

Roomba is a brand of robot vacuum that can vacuum a room by itself. The Roomba 960 model has a camera for navigation, a smartphone app with detailed cleaning reports and maps, and Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control.

(But if the floors need mopping instead, iRobot's Braava Jet 240 will fit the bill with its small design and perfect for small floor spaces, like apartments.

Some smart appliances seem a little "too smart" for their own good, like trash cans that monitor what is thrown away and generate online orders for replacements, while others like refrigerators that create dinner recipes based on the ingredients it has inside just makes sense.

Check home improvement stores or electronics stores for availability of smart home devices, but before purchasing check to see what technology is associated with the product.

I don't know if leaving home appliances to do most of the thinking on their own—and relying on them to act accordingly—is a wise thing to do, but it wouldn't be the dumbest thing to see if they are right for you.