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Smart Homes! Should you be installing a smart home system into your home?

Smart homes! Should you be installing a smart home system into your home?

Nest-thermostat

Let’s start with understanding exactly what having a smart home means. A smart home allows you to turn your ordinary bricks and mortar home into something that resembles the Jetsons, although sadly without the flying car! Automation is the key word when it comes to smart homes, allowing you to take control of many aspects of your home via an app on your smartphone, smart device (Amazon Alexa or Google home) or a smart thermostat like the ones offered by companies like Hive and Nest.

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This is the ultimate upgrade from the old fashioned clapping lights situation, now you can press a few buttons or even just speak from the comfort of your armchair to change the temperature across your home, turn lights on and off, control security systems, close and open blinds and more. Along with this unparalleled convenience there are many benefits that can come from having an automated home, energy efficiency is one of the key selling points for smart homes, from your phone you can adjust the temperature of your heating, your lighting and electronics allowing you to remotely control these aspects of your home, so if your out and your heating is going to come on at 7 but you miscalculated and are actually going to be a few hours late, then you can simply adjust your heating to come on 15 minutes before you get home, that way it will be nice and cosy for your return and you’ll be saving energy as you won’t be heating an empty house!

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Not only does that make you happy because you can save on your bills but it’s also beneficial for the planet and that is a win-win situation if you ask us!
To get an understanding of a few of the possibilities with smart home functionlity, take a look at this video by youtube Danny Winget, where he gives you a little guidance to some of the products that you can use to smarten up your home.

There are a couple of concerns about smart homes and their security, as you are connecting a lot of your home appliances and systems to the internet, this can open you up to the possibility of having your home hacked and that is quite a scary thought! You have to consider a few things though, with a good security system for your wi-fi you will curtail most attempts at someone trying to hack your home but the biggest thing to consider is that its not common it would be fairly unlucky for it to happen to you. Think of having a good wi-fi security setup like locking your car, a thief is much less likely to steal something from a locked car then an open one.

To conclude our little article, we are pretty sure that we would all welcome smart home integration into our own homes. The convenience that a smart home system allows is quite amazing in most cases, it really seems like we are making steps into the future much like those retro visions of the future!


Grand Designs Live Review

So on Tuesday the 2nd our marketing man popped out to the ExCel in London for the Grand Designs Live show. Upon entering the grand designs corridor which is a bit like walking into some kind of Willy Wonka type world for construction, interiors, home technologies and everything Grand Designsy!

Once through the Willy Wonka tunnel, you are confronted with a small communal area with walkways through to the different sections of the show those being; build, interiors, kitchens, bathrooms, gardens and technology. All of these sections include lots of interesting and state of the art products including smart home technologies, garden/home sculpture, water features, grand designs interiors, jukeboxes, lighting, art, even an infrared sauna which sounds a bit scary but they provide a unique solution for a home sauna.

A great feature at the Grand Designs Live, is the ask an expert in this area you can pop along make a quick appointment and have a free discussion with an industry expert regarding your plans for home improvements, home building and more. The ability to have a free discussion is great as often these kind of consultations might cost a few quid.

One thing that caught our eye were these large hot tubs that double up as a swim spa! They are designed in such a way that they will create a current that you can swim against providing a basically endless swimming pool which we thought was pretty cool! albeit a bit pricey.

An item that we took a good interest in was smart home products, we are interested in using a smart home product with our garden buildings and will hopefully see the incorporation of smart home products with our future projects. We like the smart home products as they allow you to control many different functions in your home by using a simple app! Security, lighting, heating and many other things can be controlled by a smart home system.

A highlight of the show was at the Grand Theatre where there were multiple talks taking place. The face of Grand Designs Kevin McCloud had some time on stage discussing the TV show and buildings with some of the homeowners that had featured on the show in the past. They went through their favourite parts of the build and the process, so if you have an interest in self build projects its definitely a show to visit.

Overall we had a pretty good time at the Grand Designs Live event, with lots of potential products that we could see included in our granny annexes in the future. The only downside to it is that we think they should put conveyer belts in somewhere, the show takes place in such a large space, during our day there our marketing man clocked up around 19,000 steps! We have added a set of photos from our visit so click below to take a peek. 


7 of the best kitchen aids for Seniors.

 

 

It’s a well known fact that as we get older seemingly simple tasks like opening jars, peeling potatoes or even chopping veg become much more of an effort. Below are 7 of the most helpful gadgets for the kitchen that will make preparing food a doddle.

 

opener6 in 1 Multi Jar/Bottle Opener –

This Multi Opener has a durable and comfortable grip and opens six different types of seals and lids with ease.The unique tool removes hard-to-grasp safety seals, opens metal bottle caps, can ring pulls, and stubborn jar lids or bottle tops. The unique enclosed blade feature cleanly slices open tightly sealed bags.It weighs just 99g

 

 

spreadboard

 

 Spreadboard –

 

Thoughtfully designed for one handed use this Spreadboard allows you to spread condiments easier. It features an easy-to-clean plastic holder,non-slip feet and a downward curved lip which keeps the Spreadboard securely in place.

workstation

The kitchen workstation

This Kitchen Workstation is an easy to use multi functional food preparation unit, providing assistance with everyday kitchen tasks. Including a removable grater and slicer, clamp, bread holder for one handed spreading and a removable stainless steel spike for holding fruit or vegetables.

 

 

Kettlle TipperKettle Tipper

This new and innovative kettle tipper is designed to be compatible with most kettle types including standard, jug and cordless kettles. The kettle tipper has a lever at either side that can be used to tip the kettle while it is held in place, without the user having to actually lift the water. This reduces the effort required and potential strain on the wrist that can occur when holding the kettle handle.

 

 

knives

 

 

 Ergonomic Kitchen Knives

 

 

These knives are designed for people with impaired mobility or strength in their hands and arms. The angle of the handle allows the user to keep their wrist straight; this makes efficient use of the strength in their arms and hands. These ergonomic handle of these smaller knives allows users to easily cut food while sitting down

peeler

 

 Peeling vegetables

 

This Scraper & Spike is a useful device that has a grating unit with a plate metal mesh blade for peeling or grating, also has a stainless steel spike for holding vegetables when peeling manually

 

taps

 

 Universal Tap and Knob turner

 

The universal tap and knob turner makes everyday tasks such as turning taps, switching on a washing machine or operating a microwave easier for those with limited strength in their arms or hands.  The turner features a comfortable handle that enables the user to grip and turn with both hands

 

 

 

 

 


iPad Gadgets for the elderly

Technology has become a part of everyday life for all ages, especially the iPad, with its user friendly interface and touch screen keypad keeping tech savvy has never been so simple.

With the elderly in mind, below are some simple to use timesaving apps to assist with day to day life.

 

Help with medication, reading and hearing:

PILL REMINDER PRO, 69p

  • Enter in the name of your pill, dosage, frequency, and what time(s) of day, and Pill Reminder sends a message via PUSH alert. Reviews on the Apple app store are mixed, but one user writes they “can’t do without this”

VIZWIZ, FREE,

  • This app, developed by a team from the University of Rochester, is targeted at partially-sighted users. It allows users to take a picture with their phone, speak a question and receive multiple spoken answers. Find out more about the app on the www.rochester.edu

READ2GO, £13.99,

  • This Daisy (digital talking books) book e-reader allows users to browse, search, download and read books directly from Bookshare, as well as read Daisy books and publications from other sources. The app allows users to control visual choices for font size and colour, background and highlighting colour, and text-to-speech preferences and was a recent app of the month recommendation by the RNIB

DRAGON DICTATION, FREE,

  • This voice-recognition application allows users to dictate text, or email messages and see them instantly. Users can also dictate status updates for Facebook, tweets, or send themselves notes and reminders. A user on the Enabled by Design site says: “I’ve been using Dragon Naturally Speaking for about a year now for all emails, letters etc, as my hand mobility makes typing difficult. I have no complaints at all. Dragon constantly surprises me as it ‘learns’ so quickly”

Help with shopping

WHICH? YOUR RIGHTS– FREE

  • The mobile guide to consumer rights, from dealing with faulty goods to returning unwanted Christmas gifts. It offers sample letters to send to retailers and two lengthy sections on the Consumer Credit Act and the Sale of Goods Act

VOUCHERCLOUD -FREE

  • This app from one of the original money-saving coupon websites offers on-the-go discount vouchers, allowing cash-strapped consumers to search for nearby shops, restaurants, cinemas, leisure outlets, garden centres and other high street outlets offering discounts. They then download a voucher to obtain the discount and show it to the vendor without having to print anything out. Just watch out for the terms and conditions – few restaurant deals, for example, are available at the weekend

IDEALO -FREE

  • An app that allows cost-conscious shoppers to scan the barcode on a product and search for the cheapest place to buy it. The app will find price information on three million products online

Cookery

JAMIE’S RECIPES, FREE.

  • Jamie Oliver’s recipes app is at its best on iPad, with a full-screen mode ideal for propping a safe distance away from cooking mess. Ten recipes and videos are included, with additional themed packs costing £1.69 in-app

VEGGIE LOVE COOKBOOK 69p.

  • Better Homes and Gardens magazine has produced over 50 vegetarian recipes, with step by step guides and a shopping list feature

Social media

TWITTER – FREE.

  • Twitter on iPad is quick and easy to use, and maybe even the best device for tweeting. Great for keeping in touch and venting forth with ideas

SKYPE -FREE.

  • Skype on iPad retains the features that have made the internet-calling service so popular on computers, including voice calls and instant messaging. It’s the full-screen video calls that make the iPad version an essential, though

General knowledge

GOOGLE EARTH – FREE.

  • Google’s planet-mapping service is perfect for the iPad, allowing people to zoom your way around the world.

SOLAR SYSTEM FOR IPAD £9.99.

  • This rich iPad book-app blends text, 3D planets and moons, videos, images and diagrams across more than 150 digital pages, to impressive effect.

STAR WALK FOR IPAD £2.99.

  • This identifies stars, constellations and satellites.

Culture

THE WASTE LAND £9.99.

  • Faber pulled out all the stops for this iPad app of TS Eliot’s famous poem, with audio and video readings, copious notes and original manuscript scans

BOOK CREATOR FOR IPAD £4.99.

  • There are plenty of book-apps for the iPad, but this one is about making your own e-book. It’s simple to combine your own photos and text

Entertainment

BBC IPLAYER FREE

  • iPlayer catch-up TV service really comes into its own on the iPad, with a slick tablet interface for browsing and searching for shows, plus full-screen viewing

PAINTERLY £1.49

  • This is one of the most creative digital artist apps for iPad, with more than 60 virtual brushes to work with. Its key feature is the ability to import your own photos and then paint with their pixels

INSTAPAPER £2.99

  • The app lets you save online articles and blog posts to read them later, making them available offline too

123D SCULPT -FREE

  • This is a digital sculpting app: you pinch and rub the screen to mould virtual clay, buying in-app theme packs for 69p each including “Medieval” and “Transportation”. A tactile and creative delight

THE ECONOMIST ON IPAD -FREE

  • In keeping with the magazine’s brand, the Economist‘s iPad app is a model of elegant understatement, offering digitised issues for £3.99 each or as part of a subscription. The option to have articles read aloud is welcome too for older people

KINDLE -FREE

  • A large collection of ebooks, including regular discounts and offers. It also syncs your reading position across different devices

ZINIO– FREE

  • Zinio is a magazine store and reader app with a wide catalogue of publications available, from sport and politics through to music and lifestyle. You can choose to buy single issues or full subscriptions

Help with the community

FIXMYSTREET -FREE

  • An app to help people report problems in their local area, directly to the council, from their phone.

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