Reckitt bets on ‘smart’ products to renew innovation mojo

Story image for Products from Reuters

SLOUGH, England (Reuters) – Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L) is betting on connected consumer products as part of a push to show investors its innovative approach can still drive growth.

In an interview at Reckitt’s global headquarters outside London, Chief Executive Rakesh Kapoor dismissed suggestions that a recent product failure signaled Britain’s 12th most valuable company has lost its design mojo.

“Innovation for this company is cultural. It’s in our blood, in our DNA,” said Kapoor, who has a reputation for disciplined cost management, adding that detailed product pipeline reviews were conducted monthly like profit-and-loss assessments.

The group’s creative prowess is under scrutiny after last year’s poor market response to a 60 pound ($77) version of its Scholl electronic hard skin remover, which continued to hurt the company and contributed to its first-ever quarterly sales fall last month.

Even without one-time items, which also included a June cyber attack and the collapse of its South Korean business, Reckitt’s core health business slowed.

Kapoor said the unit, which makes up half its annual sales following the $16.6 billion Mead Johnson purchase, remains strong and will benefit from new products.

Reckitt will next month start selling a new brand, Siti, in China and India to help protect against outdoor air pollution, and is also launching a Fever Smart temperature monitor in Australia. Both comprise pricey monitors that can send data to smartphones aimed at prompting the use of company products.

For Siti, that means face masks costing about 2 pounds each and fitted with a 20 pound vent that Reckitt says makes them perform better than existing choices. For Fever Smart, it would be a Nurofen tablet to lower a child’s fever.

Kapoor said these illustrate the new products in prospect at the maker of Durex condoms, Lysol cleaners and Mucinex cold medicine. “There is a connected innovation pipeline for all of our brands,” he said. “Think about air fresheners or pest control solutions or multipurpose cleaning.”

REAL PROBLEMS

Despite price tags of 99 Australian dollars ($78) for the Fever Smart and 50 pounds for the Siti monitor, Kapoor thinks they will be successful because they are linked to solutions for real problems. Yet Reckitt’s foray into smart devices comes as the market for wearable gadgets slows.

CCS Insight predicts a 1 percent increase in the number of wearable gadgets shipped this year, versus 10 percent last year. “It is not a secret that demand for smart wearables has been weaker than we, or anyone else, initially anticipated,” said George Jijiashvili at the consultancy.

He noted other companies also offer pollution monitors but said they will likely have niche appeal. “Certain individuals who are very concerned about the air quality, especially those living in heavily polluted cities such as Delhi, are likely to seek out such devices”.

RBC Capital Markets analyst James Edwardes Jones said he had become more skeptical about Reckitt’s product pipeline, especially after the failed Scholl skin file.

“The wider issue is not about one innovation going wrong, it’s that one innovation went wrong and there was nothing else to fill the gap that it left,” said Jones, who has an “underperform” rating on the stock.

He said greater upside may be had elsewhere in the sector, which is being rocked as activist shareholders push Nestle (NESN.S) and Procter & Gamble (PG.N) to improve returns, Unilever (ULVR.L) aims to boost performance after an aborted takeover proposal from Kraft Heinz (KHC.O) and Danone (DANO.PA) is reportedly being targeted by an activist investor.

INCREASED PRESSURE

“I still think they (Reckitt) are an exceptionally managed company, but others are starting to do the same sort of thing from a much lower base,” Jones said.

Kapoor acknowledged the increased pressure on the sector as growth has slowed. He says it gives rise to two types of CEO – those who become activist targets and those who play that role themselves. “The day I stop being the activist CEO in my company I should have an activist from outside.”

Reckitt shares have risen by more than 130 percent since Kapoor took over as CEO in September 2011, growing more than three times as much as the FTSE 100, though they are down nearly 6 percent since last month’s results.

Reckitt is moving deeper into consumer health, a market that Euromonitor International says is worth $217 billion, evidenced by the Mead Johnson deal and a healthcare development center being built in northern England.

At 105 million pounds, the site in Hull slated to open in May 2018 is Reckitt’s biggest such investment to date. Kapoor said he chose Hull to strengthen Reckitt’s British roots, before Britons voted last year to leave the European Union.

“I did not support Brexit in a personal capacity,” said Kapoor. He said he would have weighed Hull harder against other choices in Singapore and India if he had foreseen Brexit and remained concerned about its impact.

“Brexit happened, but we are steadfast,” he said about the facility that should add about 250 employees to a local workforce of more than 800. “We will continue, and get it done.”

[Source”indianexpress”]

Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug Review: Automate your dumb appliances

Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug review

The WeMo Mini Smart Plug lets you control and automate nearly any device in your home. Plug the WeMo Mini into an outlet, then plug a lamp, fan, or coffee maker into it and you’ll have control no matter where you are. The smart plug works with Alexa, Nest, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, which means you can also set up specific automation recipes and issue voice commands to your plugged-in devices.

Testing

Few smart home products are easier to setup or more straightforward to use than the WeMo Mini. You plug into an outlet, download and install the WeMo app, and then connect the smart plug to your Wi-Fi network. After labeling each WeMo plug with the name and a photo of the device it controls you can use your phone to either set specific schedules for that device or simply turn it on and off remotely when you want.

Over the course of a week, we tested our WeMo Smart Plug with a variety of floor and desktop lamps, a window fan, a coffee grinder, a hot water kettle, and a sleep machine.

Observations

After dealing with an ever-changing landscape of smart home hubs, cloud storage subscriptions, and interoperability issues, the WeMo Mini Smart Plug was a refreshing change of pace. If you have a Wi-Fi network and are capable of plugging something in, you’ll be able to figure out how to use it.

What’s particularly attractive about the WeMo, in addition to the $35 price tag, is its flexibility. The plug can be used in a variety of situations and functions both as remote power switch and as a smart device scheduler. It’s small enough so that you can fit two on top of each other in a standard double socket, and it enjoys broad compatibility with other smart home platforms and voice assistants.

Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug review double

The horizontal form factor makes it possible to use a pair of Smart Plugs in the same outlet.

Belkin

During our week of testing, we used ours to control various lamps in our home using both the WeMo app and Alexa. We also plugged a hot water kettle into the Wi-Fi switch and set up a schedule that yielded perfect 203F degree water for pour over coffee brewing right as we got up in the morning.

All of the scheduling is done via the WeMo app’s rules page. Here you can set up any number of time- or day-based schedules. For instance, with two plugs you can turn a bedside table light on and a sleep machine off at a specific time or when the sun rises. There’s also a handy “away mode” that turns a lamp’s lights on and off at random intervals to make it appear as if you’re home. Because the WeMo works with platforms like Nest, you can also configure the plug to turn on a specific light when your Nest Learning Thermostat recognizes that you’re home.

In all of these scenarios, the smart plug worked almost flawlessly. Occasionally, the app was sluggish or would get hung up, but that seems to be the norm for pretty much every dedicated smart device app these days. Apple households may miss HomeKit compatibility and the ability to use Siri, but given all the other smart platforms that do work with the WeMo, that pining will probably be brief.

[Source”pcworld”]

UK government suddenly realises smart meters should link to appliances

UK government suddenly realises smart meters should link to appliances

THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced that it wants to use smart technology in the home to make households “at one” with the National Grid.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been working with OFGEM, the energy regulator, to come up with a plan whereby your fridge could be told to cool its boots for ten minutes if there was a local power surge, or excess power generated by roof solar panels was sold back to the National Grid.

The announcement was laced with much thrills and excite about improved battery technology, meaning being able to store excess power for a rainy day, even when electricity and rain don’t mix anyway, dumbass.

As part of this, a £246m “Faraday Challenge” was launched to help teams come up with new ways of improving battery storage.

Here’s the problem, brainiacs. Big flagship policies like this are all very well, but you already sailed the ship. The disastrous rollout of smart meters has already begun and not only is the aim of 2020 for completion unlikely to be met, a whole bunch of them will have to be refitted at a later date because they don’t meet the common standard.

And getting things to talk to each other isn’t as easy as you’d expect at the best of times. Smart home devices are all using competing standards and most of them aren’t ruddy compatible as it is.

Meanwhile, smart meters, which would be the interface between the National Grid and your home, run on a mixture of SIM cards (WHY? SERIOUSLY? WHY?) and Zigbee. Now, Zigbee is a common standard. Problem is, the National Grid standard requires it to be made incompatible with other Zigbee devices for security reasons.

Imagine if we could just hook our meters into our SmartThings, or Homey or WeMo rigs from the outset? But nope. Nothing doing. There are devices like Smappee which hook around the meter and take a reading of the electrical “signature” which is designed to do the same job, but that works on a completely different standard. Yes. Another one.

So whoopee-do to the government for recognising the potential for energy management using the smart home. Really. Well Done. Brilliant.

Trouble is, as with most of these things, it’s been announced by people who have no idea what it means in the real world and have already pre-borked it. Sigh. µ

 [Source”timesofindia”]

Sears is adding Alexa support to its Kenmore smart home appliances

Amazon’s Alexa assistant is now able to control an even wider range of home appliances. Smart appliances from Sears and its Kenmore brand are joining the list of hardware that can be used through voice commands to Amazon’s Echo lineup of speakers and other Alexa-enabled devices. GE and Whirlpool have already integrated similar support across their respective products, and now “the full line of Kenmore smart appliances” — air conditioners, refrigerators, and more — can be controlled with a new Alexa skill, Kenmore Smart.

Owners of connected Kenmore products can say commands like “Alexa, tell Kenmore Smart to set my air conditioner to 70 degrees” to make adjustments without having to walk over and do it the old fashioned way: with buttons. Or with the remote that came with your air condition that always gets misplaced.

Amazon will also begin selling Sears’ Kenmore products directly, which is a significant bit of good news (and a new sales channel) for the struggling department store chain. The company has acknowledged “substantial doubt” about its future prospects, according toBloomberg, after years of losses brought on by its flailing attempts to compete with retail competition — including Amazon’s giant e-commerce presence.

 [Source”timesofindia”]

Opinion: What can smart home tech do for retirees?

The most complicated thing on earth isn’t high-technology, it’s family dynamics. A weekend with the in-laws, or a Thanksgiving dinner will provide all the evidence needed. And now that we’re living longer than ever before, the interests and opinions of more generations will compete for the same amount of airtime. The extended life expectancy also increases the need to coordinate long-term financial plans as families navigate mortgages, student loans and long-term care for four living generations. The good news is, there’s hope.

The high-tech craze known as the Internet of Things (IoT) promised the Jetsons lifestyle was only moments away. The reality was decidedly underwhelming. The IoT refers to any device connected to the internet. While some companies added internet connectivity to useful home appliances such as thermostats and door locks, others addressed the less useful combination of internet, such as egg trays and the Wi-Fi juicer.

Focus on needs, not on devices

There are some very useful IoT devices available that help families address the needs of multiple generations. The recommended approach to finding the right device is to identify the root causes of family stressors first, then look for a technology solution.

  • Wellness concerns: It’s difficult to balance a full-time job, an immediate family and manage care for a parent or grandparent. If there is a dark stairwell in the home, installing a motion activated light reduces the risk of a fall. A voice intercom such as the Nucleus, can be a good way to check-in with a family member without visiting their residence. Smart locks are an effective way to grant home access to caregivers or emergency responders.
  • Limited mobility: Simple tasks can become difficult burdens under mobility limitations. Consider a smart home automation hub such as Samsung’s SmartThings and/or a voice-controlled appliance such as Amazon’sAMZN, +0.13% Echo that can be set up to switch lights on or off, lock doors, set reminders and even water a garden.
  • Medications: Managing medications is a top concern of family caregivers. A connected pillbox can be a great way to gain insight into medication adherence without bothering the family member daily. These pillboxes can be simple, such as Tricella’s Pillbox, or fancy such as the HERO.
  • Monthly bills: Home energy consumption can be volatile and difficult to manage. Smart appliances such as Google’s GOOG, +1.26% Nest can pay for itself in energy savings by managing HVAC routines based on user activity.
Herohealth.com
A smart pill box manages medications and keeps toddlers out.

Some of these devices may be familiar, and great solutions to specific issues. But what if the need is broader than one or two specific concerns? What if, for example, mom’s goal is to live at home as long as possible, but her children worry that the home won’t provide the support she needs? The solution is to connect the individual devices to a platform that offers insights valuable to each member in the family.

When it comes to retirement, 60s are the new 50s
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

While simple smart home devices can meet some goals for independent living, unless they work together they cannot address the situations that would otherwise undermine a family’s support of an older member’s decision to age-in-place. Take the motion activated light from above; its one function is to turn on the stairway light. When additional motion sensors are added in the home, the information from each sensor can be stitched together to make more meaningful insights, such as where the resident has been and how much time was spent in each room.

That’s a meaningful step toward unlocking the value promised from the IoT hype, but it’s not quite there. An analysis and alert service such as HoneyCo’s Internet of Caring Things (IoCT), completes the process. HoneyCo’s IoCT proactively alerts family members or professional caregivers of concerning activity, such as too much time at the bottom of that dark stairwell.

Game-changer

Residential care facilities were considered an unavoidable part of the transition from adulthood to elderhood. The broad sentiment was that nobody wanted to go, but we’d all end up there at some point, even if our kids forced us into it. Smart home technology is transforming this concept. The retirement communities of the future will be the homes we live in today. Care will be coordinated through the IoCT, driverless cars will shuttle members to social events, and we’ll reflect on how technology spared us from the anxieties of elderhood and allowed multiple generations to build meaningful relationships.

Zachary Watson is the Founder & CEO of HoneyCo Homes.

 

 

[Source”cnbc”]

Sharp trips to the future with a quartet of smart appliances

 

 

Sharp smart appliances

Sharp has entered the world of connected appliances with a new smart oven, fridge-freezer, washing machine and dishwasher. But the aim here is much more than just app control.

At its impressive Vestel City factory complex in Turkey, Sharp unveiled four smart appliances that it hopes will bring your home into the 21st century.

Related: Best kitchen gadgets

 

Sharp smart appliances 1The real headliner of the new range is the Love2Cook Smart Oven (£699), which has 150 recipes built in, ranging from Peking duck to paella, each with their own cooking programmes. Instructions are can be found within the companion app, then the oven sets the temperature and time – it even tells you the correct shelf to use. According to Sharp, these recipes have been compiled by top-class professional chefs using this exact oven, so they should be fairly idiot-proof.

Of course, the oven can also be controlled remotely via the app, so you can get it preheated before you’ve even got home from work. Maybe remotely start up the RoastPro Turnspit and use the app to check the temperature of your meat thanks to the RoastPro Digital MeatProbe. This isn’t the dark ages, after all.

The Love2Cook oven is available in stainless steel or black – no old-school white option for this modern smartie.

 

Sharp smart appliances 2Next up is the Smart Double French Door Fridge-Freezer (£2012), which enables in-app adjustment of the temperature within its fridge and freezer compartments. One or both of the freezer compartments can even be set as extra refrigeration space. You can also remotely set the fridge-freezer to holiday mode via the app, even if you’ve only already left for the airport.

 

Sharp smart appliances 3The Sharp Smart Washing Machine (£875) enables you to set a time delay or programme through the app, and has an 8kg capacity. It also has a super-speedy 12-minute cycle for emergency cleaning of up to 2kg of clothing for a night out or weekend away. Never find us being that disorganised, though. Ahem.

Other functions of the washing machine include 22 stain-fighting functions and an Allergy UK-approved AllergySmart programme for combating allergies caused by pollen, mould, pet hair, fungus and household dust mites as well as four different types of bacteria.

 

Sharp smart appliancesLast but not least is the Sharp Smart Dishwasher (£875), which has space for 14 place settings and is A+++ energy rated. As with the washing machine, it has a particularly fast wash option, with 18 minutes being its quickest – the fastest you’ll find for a four-place-setting cycle.

To boost drying time, the dishwasher’s AutoDoor function automatically opens the door – you probably guessed from the name, right? – to let out any excess steam after the cycle’s finished.

In addition to all this remote smart control, there’s a much more practical purpose for the net-connection of these appliances: servicing and maintenance. Hold up, it’s not as dull as it sounds. The moment these Sharp models sense anything not working the way it should, they ping an error code automatically to aftersales. That means you could be contacted by Sharp before knowing anything’s even wrong.

If the fault is customer-fixable, however – such as the fridge door being left open – a notification will just be sent to you through the app. Now that really is smart.

image: http://static.trustedreviews.com/94/00003f070/8ebc_orh616w616/sharp-smart-appliances-5.jpg

Sharp smart appliancesWhat’s more is that, having tried the app control for all of these appliances, we found it all very slick. All four are controllable through the same app, too.

Sharp is apparently working on integration for control from at least one of the most popular digital AIs. We wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon Alexa support wasn’t far off.

[Source”indianexpress”]

Samsung really wants your kitchen appliances to be smart

samsung-refrigerator-profileEnlarge Image

This Samsung refrigerator will include cameras so you can see the inside of the fridge from your phone.

Samsung

Samsung has placed a big bet that its customers want their large kitchen appliances to be connected to the internet. The company announced this week that all of the appliances in the brand’s next Chef Collection line will have Wi-Fi connectivity. That means you’ll be able to check in on and control your stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, cooktop or oven through an app on your iOS or Android device.

The Chef Collection appliances will be available in the fall. The company said it would release the prices of the products closer to the line’s release.

“Samsung has been listening to a new generation of state-of-the-art homeowners to understand their priorities to insure Chef Collection meets their needs and wants,” the company said in a statement. “This new home buyer is leading a busy life and looks to connected technology to make life more efficient and simple.”

Samsung has been one of the major manufacturers that has pushed for large kitchen appliances to be a significant part of a smart-home setup. The company recently released new models of its Family Hub refrigerator, the appliance with a tablet built into the door and cameras that give you a live shot of the inside of your refrigerator. And Samsung added Wi-Fi to its Flex-Duo range last year, which let you control your oven and check if you forgot to turn off a burner.

Other manufacturers have also gotten serious when it comes to bringing their large kitchen appliances into the Internet of Things. Companies like Whirlpool, GE and LG have added Wi-Fi connectivity to some of their products and partnered with platforms like Amazon Dash Replenishment Services, Amazon Alexa and Google Home to create automatic ordering of supplies and hands-free controls.

Features of the Chef Collection line

  • Bluetooth-enabled range hoods that automatically turn on with when a cooktop is in use and change fan speeds with a heat sensing feature.
  • A 42-inch 4-Door Flex refrigerator with a FlexZone compartment that can transition from fridge to freezer depending on your needs.
  • Wi-Fi-enabled built-in refrigerators will have a camera built in so you can see the contents of your fridge from your device.
  • Ovens with a Flex Duo insert that lets you divide your oven cavity into separate cooking zones.
  • [Source”timesofindia”]

AA batteries power this simple smart doorbell

Image result for AA,batteries,power,this,simple,smart,doorbell

If you’re intimidated by the prospect of installing a doorbell, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, startup Olive & Dove wants to help. Its $199 smart doorbell, RemoBell, relies exclusively on AA batteries. That means you can’t even hard-wire this thing if you wanted to — with RemoBell, it’s AAs or bust.

Check out its specs:

  • Requires 6 AA batteries
  • Wi-Fi-enabled
  • 720p HD video resolution
  • Infrared night vision
  • Heat-sensing motion detector
  • Push alerts
  • Two-way audio
  • 120-degree field of view

RemoBell isn’t the first door buzzer to work over battery power, but it is the first HD video-streaming smart model I know of that opted for AAs over a rechargeable battery.

Olive & Dove says RemoBell should run for up to 4 months before needing a new set of batteries. While the reliance on batteries could be annoying if you don’t always have a stash of them on hand, it’s definitely faster than waiting for a rechargeable battery to charge fully. It also helps that AAs are easy to find, compared to Netgear’s indoor-outdoor Arlo camera, which relies on expensive and hard-to-find CR123 batteries.

I do question the 4-month battery life, particularly if the camera is located in a busy area, but RemoBell’s “heat-sensing” motion sensor is supposed to help limit alerts to people only. I’ve reached out to Olive & Dove for a review unit and hope to test out this functionality soon. The startup doesn’t mention any specific smart home integrations with RemoBell, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re added soon — a blog post on their site discusses the importance of the smart home and home security.

Olive & Dove hasn’t yet announced international availability, but the price converts to roughly £160 and AU$265 at the current exchange rate.

 

 

[Source:- CNET]

Still talk on the phone? You can make calls with this Viio Vezzo smart mirror

Image result for Still talk on the phone? You can make calls with this Viio Vezzo smart mirror

Need to call your friend while you put in your contacts? A company called Viio has created mirrors that let you chat through your mirror. Viio equips its mirrors with Bluetooth, so you can connect them wirelessly to your mobile device, tablet or computer. The built-in microphone and speakers let you make phone calls or play music directly through the mirrors. And if you’re just concerned with how you look, the Viio mirrors include LED lights around the perimeter.

The Viio mirrors come in three different models — the Vezzo, Vero and Vetta — that cost $395, $445 and $695, respectively. You can order the mirrors online and in a few Home Depot, Best Buy and Lowe’s stores in Canada. Home Depot and Lowe’s will begin to sell the mirrors in the US this spring. (The site doesn’t yet ship to the UK or Australia, but those prices range from £320 to £565, or AU$520 to AU$920.)

Smart mirrors might be the next hot category as tech companies begin to make health and beauty products. The company Simplehuman has its own line of smart mirrors that customize light settings based on selfies you save in the accompanying app. And an auto-sensing smart mirror called Juno has raised more than $425,000 during its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, thanks to features like light settings just for reading, makeup or selfies.

Viio features

  • Auxiliary cord connection
  • Anti-fog button
  • 6-hour battery or permanent plug
  • Wood backing to mount on walls
  • Vezzo: 24×32 inches, $395
  • Vero: 30-inch diameter circular mirror, $445
  • Vetta: 24×64 inches, $695

 
[Source:- CNET]

 

Best smart switch 2017 UK: Control lights, fans, heaters, kettles, cookers, irons, straighteners and more from your phone

Which smart switch is best? What do smart switches do, and are they worth the money? We test five of the contenders: the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Elgato Eve Energy, Energenie Mi| Home Adapter Plus and the Efergy Ego. Also read our reviews of the best smart light bulbs

Also see: Best Gadget Deals

Just as smart thermostats are muscling in on old-school programmers, smart switches are having a good go at yesterday’s twiddly timer switches.  Also see: Best robot vacuum cleaners

What is a smart switch?

Basically it’s a switch that you plug into a power socket, and then plug another device’s plug into so you can control it via an app on your smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi.

With the best smart switches you can set schedules, monitor energy usage and find out which devices are used most often and when. Armed with such data you can start saving on your home’s domestic electricity usage. Sounds interesting, but is it really useful?

The not-very-smart traditional power timer switch is pretty handy at switching things like lights, kettles and fish tanks on at set times or intervals. You can buy an analogue timer switch for under a fiver, or get a fancy digital one for a few pounds more.

The ‘smart’ switch is more capable, linking with a smartphone app for device control wherever you are with an internet connection (Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, etc). Say you stay out longer than you were expecting to (“Go on, just one more pint:”) and really want a light on inside your house to pretend you’re home. With a dumb-ish switch you’re stuffed. With a smart switch you’re only dumb if you let your phone battery run out.

Tap the app, select the smart switch you’re after, and turn on the light. Bingo.

Some experts think you could save on your energy bills by powering down your fridge freezer for a couple of hours a day. Read: Best smart home heating systems.

With a smart switch you could control the TV in your child’s room from the comfort of your armchair, although popping your head around the door and/or reading them a book would be better parenting. Read: How much screen time is safe for kids.

Energy monitoring

One of the more appealing functions of smart switches is energy use and cost monitoring. Not all switches offer this feature, but many do. Devices are often left on standby when not in use for large parts of the day, and standby use accounts for around up to 16 percent of the average electricity bill, reckons energy gadget maker Efergy. With a smart switch you can dramatically cut down on this wasted Standby time. Efergy’s own Ego smart socket, see review below, is especially clever at cutting back on Standby time.

And there’s enough on offer to save you time and effort, too, in the day. Fill your kettle or coffee maker in the morning, and turn it on via the app when you get out of bed so that it has boiled by the time you get to your kitchen. This might sound a very lazy use of technology, but it’s a daily time saver – if you remember to fill the kettle the night before!

The ability to turn devices on and off via Wi-Fi from afar, plus on various timed schedules, is useful. Seeing the energy usage and costs of various devices could help you save money, but this would be even more useful if such switches could monitor multiple devices on a power strip, and these do exist now.

Prices

Smart switches start at around £25, and rise to around £55, so they’re not yet so cheap you can buy one for every appliance. But for those you really want to control from afar, it can be worth the outlay.

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

  • RRP: £24.99 inc VAT

TP-Link’s Wi-Fi Smart Plug is one of our top picks. For a start, it’s only £24.99 from Amazon and second, it connects via Wi-Fi directly to your router. So it doesn’t need a hub, nor does it need (as Elgato’s Eve Energy does) an Apple TV or iPad for remote control away from home.

There are iOS and Android apps, but the icing on the cake is that it also works with Amazon Alexa. That means – while at home – you can say, “Alexa turn on the xxx” and control your device hands-free.

Via the app you can create schedules as you can with Energenie’s switch, turning the plug on and off as many times as you like, with different schedules for each day if you like. Using your location, you can also choose sunrise and sunset as triggers.

There’s also a timer mode so you can turn the plug on or off after a preset time, which could be handy for a sleep timer or to turn off the TV once the kids have had enough screen time.

For £10 more, you can buy the HS110 which is the same except that it also monitors the energy the connected device consumes. You see at a glance how many kWh the appliance has used so far today and how long it has been on. Tap on each and you get more detail, such as current power usage, plus totals and daily averages for the past week and month. (It’s the same breakdown for runtime).

With a well-designed and good-looking app, no need for a hub and a decent price, the TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug is one of the best you can buy right now.

Efergy Ego Smart Switch

Efergy Ego Smart Switch

  • RRP: £29.99 inc VAT

The Efergy Ego smart switch (which you can buy from Amazon for £29.99) can work like a regular timer, and also has the knack of switching devices on and off at random, which could be useful when you’re trying to give the impression that a home is occupied when it’s actually vacant for a long time.

Its smartphone or tablet app will show you the energy usage of a device or strip of devices, plus their estimated cost over a period of time. Isolate the worst culprits and you’ll soon be making sure they’re properly switched off when not required.

While it lacks WeMo’s handy Notifications feature, the Ego wins out with its ability to learn and turn off appliances automatically that have been on stand-by for too long

When the appliance, most probably your TV, is plugged into the Ego and is on standby you go to the Stand-by/Learn screen in the app. Press the learn button and the Ego stores that value. Then in the Standby feature you set an amount of time, so after ‘x’ minutes of the TV being on standby I want it to turn off at the mains.

There is a also a Group function for those who multiple Ego switches in their home. You can group them together and control them all from the Group/scene page. The best application for this is to have all appliances in one room in a group.

Like the WeMo, the Efergy Ego is reasonably inconspicuous but still a little too bulky to not get in the way of other sockets’ flick switches. It is taller than the WeMo.

No hub is needed, so the price is all you pay, and at £29.99 at the moment (usually £39.99) it’s great value.

.

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

  • RRP: £49.99 inc VAT

You can buy the WeMo Insight Switch for £49.99 from Argos, so it certainly isn’t cheap. It’s part of a larger WeMo home-automation series of products, including Smart LED Bulbs and Light Switch, and WeMo Motion.

There’s a very visible green power-on indicator on top, and, weirdly, a Micro USB port that currently has no function. Setting up the switch is straightforward, if a little long-winded at first. It took us a couple of goes to get it to recognise our Wi-Fi. But at least it doesn’t require a separate hub connected to your router.

Plug the Switch into a power outlet in your home and then plug your chosen device into the Switch. Download the free WeMo App (iOS and Android), and pair it with the Switch and your Wi-Fi network.

Aside from turning things off without getting off your backside WeMo can inform you when, for instance, a laundry cycle is complete, which is actually rather handy. This is set up in the WeMo app’s clever Rules section. Or you could be alerted when your child has exceeded his or her allotted screen/TV time.

Via the app you set rules that trigger the power according to preset times, or to respond automatically to sunrise and sunset, or through motion detection via Belkin’s WeMo Motion detector (an extra £64).

Rules can be set for: Weekends; Weekdays; and, Individual days. And allow for: Turn on only; Turn off only; and, Turn on then off.

It isn’t the cheapest but the ability to create rules could make it the best option for you.

Elgato Eve Energy

Elgato Eve Energy

  • RRP: £44.95

The Eve Energy is a smart switch which also monitors how much power the connected device uses over time. It’s an Apple HomeKit plug which means it works only with iOS devices. However, this also means you can control it with your voice using Siri and that it benefits from the full encryption that HomeKit offers.

Rather than use Wi-Fi, the switch uses Bluetooth. This makes setup easy (and also means you don’t need to have a hub connected to your router) but it does limit the range over which it can be controlled. It will work in most ‘normal’ UK homes, but if you want to control it when away from home, you’ll need an Apple TV (3rd gen or later) or a spare home-based iPad (newer than iPad 2) running iOS 8.1 or later.

You can turn the switch on and off via the Apple Home app in iOS 10 or use the Eve app. If you’re standing next to the switch, there’s a button on top for manual control, too.

Setting up timers is possible using the Scenes tab in the app, but creating a schedule is needlessly complicated compared to other apps, such as TP-Link’s. However, the Eve app is built to work with the whole Eve range – not just a smart switch – and you can make all the gadgets work together using Scenes. It’s powerful, but could be easier to use.

It’s fairly expensive at £44.95 from Apple, but if you already have an iPad or Apple TV for remote access and you like the idea of controlling it via Siri, it could be right for you .

Energenie MI|Home Adapter Plus

Energenie MI|Home Adapter Plus

  • RRP: £34.99 inc VAT

Energenie’s Adapter Plus is the top-of-the-range switch which monitors and controls connected devices. It’s not too expensive at £34.99, but does require a £69.99 hub that connects to your router.

You can buy the Adapter Plus bundle, though, which includes two switches and the hub for £109.99. And there are other products in the range including two-gang wall sockets, smart TRVs, motion sensors and door / window sensors.

Pairing the switch with the hub is as simple as plugging it in and holding down the button for a few seconds. You can then add it as a new device in the Mi|Home app (Android / iOS).

In the app you can tap ON or OFF to manually control the switch (even when away from home) but you can also set up timers. You’re free to create as many as you like, for multiple power cycles each day and different times on different days.

There’s also a geofencing setting so you can turn it off (or on) when you leave the house and then do the opposite when you return. You can even set different distances to trigger the geofencing depending on whether you’re leaving or returning.

For energy monitoring, you can see current and average power use, plus daily and hourly totals. It will also tell you how much the connected device has cost to run each month for the last quarter.

Plus, Energenie has just launched a skill for Alexa, so you can control the plug using your voice – and an Amazon Echo.

 

[Source:- PCA]