There seems to be an endless parade of gadgets promising to make our lives easier - but which ones do we really need? Here's a roundup of some of the most popular gadgets making our homes more efficient, fun and helpful.
We've all been there, standing over the counter, trying to cut a very crusty loaf of bread and making a mess of it (my nemesis is the delicious but very tough to slice through sourdough from our local bakery). Not only do regular bread knives, even good ones like I have, struggle with some particularly chewy crusts, it's actually dangerous to use inadequate knives for the task. When a knife can't easily glide through the food you're slicing, you risk slipping and cutting your hand. In this case, you should use an electric knife which makes slicing through thick-crusted breads, roasted meats, and large, rinded vegetables like squash, safer, quicker and hassle-free. Having the right tool also means you won't avoid your favourites in the future due to them being a pain to prepare!
Effie the Iron
Ironing can be the bane of work mornings. If you're someone who leaves ironing to the last minute, then you know the pressure of trying to get your clothes looking just right before going out the door. Or maybe it takes you half a day to get your family's laundry nicely pressed. If you’re fed up with the whole thing, there's a device that will help you. Effie the Iron is an automated ironing machine that is about the size of radiator and sits permanently in the room. You can hang 12 items of clothing right out of the wash, and with the press of a button, you get your clothes back, free of creases. And no worry about having left the iron on as you fly out the door to work!
Have you ever wondered what your dog gets up to while you're away from the house? There's a way to keep a beady eye on your fur baby at all times. Furbo allows you to see what your pooch is doing with the help of a stationed camera that you control through an app on your smartphone. You can interact with your dog by speaking through your phone (though this may confuse him by making him think you're in the house hiding somewhere), and even throw real treats through the device with a click of a button if you fancy a little play time.
You will have heard likely heard of this one by now. Amazon Alexa is a handy gadget that works as an intelligent personal assistant that interacts with you to answer your commands. Just by saying her name, Alexa lights up and is ready to help. You can request songs on the spot or recall your shopping list in full if you so wish, for example. Have a question? Amazon Alexa will google it for you. This device is especially helpful in the kitchen; you can direct cooking and baking questions to it which saves you having to stop and wash your hands so you can use your phone to search for answers to questions such as, how many cups of flour is 250 grams?
This device is particularly clever for plant lovers. Parrot Flower sits beside your plant, keeping the root of your blooms company and reports on how the plant is doing. It can monitor sunlight, temperature, and moisture and, really handily, send messages to your smartphone to inform you of your plant’s requirements. This gadget could save you time and money if you’ve had difficulty keeping your plants alive and thriving.
Sonos comes with a price tag to match its high quality, but if you really love music, it could be worth it. Sonos brings sound to every room in your home by using system devices located throughout your space. Connect to one device in your kitchen, for example, and it will activate the main system to play the music in each equipped room. Sonos provides surround sound for an immersive listening experience, and the volume levels can turn your home into a club within seconds, if that's what you're into, and your neighbours aren't on the other side of the walls.
Bluetooth Tracking Tag
You may remember the keyring that would make a piercing scream if you whistled to find where you’d left your keys. This gadget is a smart version of that. It's a tracking tag that allows you to use the bluetooth connectivity on your mobile phone to identify and alert to their last known location. This is a must-have if you're constantly late for work because you can't find your keys on the way out of the house most mornings.
The days of finding yourself out and about with a dead mobile phone are over thanks to portable charging mats. These wireless mats can simultaneously charge a handful of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to other batteries, taking the worry out of travel. If you struggle to find a socket in public transport, carrying a charging hub with you will help you avoid being high and dry and incommunicado. Having your mobile phone adequately charged is also an important safety measure you need to be especially mindful of when travelling.