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To brew a delicious cup of coffee, there are certain variables you need to master: the ratio of coffee to water, brew time, water temperature, and the grind size of your beans. All of these factors have to come together to create a balanced cup. When the coffee grinds are introduced to hot water, the water begins to extract compounds from the coffee beans. The goal? Liquid that is not too bitter, burnt, or sour. To get there, you need to extract the right compounds from the beans at the right time. This can take experimentation, and will change depending on what product you use to concoct your brew.
And while there are standard recommendations, coffee making is really all about personal taste. For example, I (a coffee enthusiast, clearly) prefer the pour-over method and use a Chemex to brew my coffee. But that’s just one way to get a pitch-perfect cuppa. During my college barista years, I picked up some tips of the trade—and worked with some quality gear—that I still use daily. Read on.Learn how to brew coffee from the comfort of your own kitchen
Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Factors like where the coffee is grown, the blend of the beans, and how long they’ve been roasted for, dictate the flavors of your fluids. If you don’t know what kind of coffee you like, get tasting. A decent way to do this is to try out a subscription service that will ship coffee from multiple roasters. I personally like Trade Coffee. Instead of committing to one roaster, the service sends between 2-4 bags of coffee per month depending on your subscription.
The first step to fresh-tasting, yummy coffee is to start with whole beans. You want to grind your coffee as close to brewing as possible. The longer your beans are exposed to oxygen, the quicker the compounds will break down. Pre-ground coffee also removes control over the grind size, so you won’t be able to tweak your recipe until it’s time for a new bag.
The key to coffee grounds is achieving the correct-size grind with a uniform surface area. Ideal coarseness depends on how you brew your coffee. A Chemex does best with a medium grind, while beans going into a French press can be coarser—here’s a simple guide to the “ideal” textures for various apparatuses.
The long and short of it is that if you change the size of the coffee grounds, you affect the rate at which compounds—volatile oils that account for the aroma and taste and bitterness-causing acids—are removed from the beans. For example, if you are making a pour-over coffee, the water is flowing through the grounds relatively quickly, so the grind size should be smaller. Because it takes a relatively short amount of time for water to pass through your grounds, you’ll want more surface area exposed to get a strong-enough brew. If you’re making cold-brew or using a French press, you can grind your beans pretty coarsely. Because the grounds get a proper bath in the water, full-immersion methods don’t do well with fine grounds. Too much surface area for too long means over-extraction.
Basically, you need a good grinder that will give you a consistent grind for a uniform and repeatable taste. The Baratza Encore (pictured above) has 40mm burrs that provide 40 coarseness settings and is fairly easy to clean. Burr grinders use two revolving surfaces to crush your beans into equal-size grounds. Being able to change the size of the grind makes you able to use any type of coffee maker.
Keep the beans away from sunlight and make sure to get an airtight container. Try to drink your coffee within two weeks, but if you cannot finish it, you can also freeze or refrigerate your beans.
In addition to grind size, you should be cognizant of the temperature of your water. The “right” temperature depends—of course—on your grind size. If given enough time, water of any temperature will extract compounds from coffee beans, but finding the right combination of water temperature and grind size and coffee maker is the difference between complex coffeehouse flavors and, well, not that.
If you pour very hot water on coffee grounds that are too fine, it’ll extract a lot of the bitter compounds. If you pour warm water over coarse grounds, you’ll be left unexciting murky water. Cold brew, to illustrate, is ground course and the beans are fully immersed in cold water for a solid 24 hours. Here, less surface area and colder temperatures don’t matter because the beans are bathed in H2O for a good long while.
For what it’s worth, when using my Chemex, I do a medium grind and heat up my water to 202 degrees. I adjust from there.
Maintain a steady, slow stream of water into the middle of the brew.
You’ll want to pour the water over the grounds steadily and slowly. It’s important not to agitate the grounds too much while you’re wetting the coffee. Agitation speeds up how quickly the coffee is exposed to fresh water. Too much agitation can pull out unfavorable flavors. My pouring routine goes like this: pour just enough water to wet all the beans and let them “bloom.” The bloom allows the grounds to expand and release gases trapped during the roasting process. This process should last 15-20 seconds. When finished, begin pouring again from the outside and slowly work your way in making smaller and smaller circles until you reach the middle. Keep the stream of water slow and steady until you have poured the desired amount of water.
My kettle of choice? This BonaVita kettle, which lets me keep hot water at my precise specifications for up to 60 minutes. The gooseneck spout allows for a slower and more controlled pour, too.
Brewing coffee is all about ratios. You need to be able to measure two things: how much coffee you’ve ground and how much water you’re using. Most suggested ratios are around 1:17. This means 17 grams of water for every one gram of coffee. (I use 18 grams of water for every gram of coffee because I am a rebel.) One thing to consider is that adding more water doesn’t mean you will make your coffee weaker. It can also affect how many compounds are extracted, changing the taste rather than the strength of your cup.
This Hario scale will make it easy to track the weight of your elements as well as how long your coffee’s been brewing. If you are making a pour over coffee in a device like a Chemex, you’ll be able to see how quick or slow the coffee is running through the grounds and the filter. It’ll help you measure your proportion of coffee to water.
To me, a Chemex is the simplest pour-over device. Its clear glass body can brew several cups at once, and makes it easy to see how much water you’ve poured. It’s easy to clean, too. Toss the filter in the trash—or wash out a metal one—and rinse it under the faucet.
These bleach-free filters fit every size Chemex. They reach above the glass lip making sure no grounds make it through to the bottom.
If you’re trying to cut down on waste, these stainless steel filters work fine. It’s a little messier to clean and you’ll need to adjust the grind size on your grinder, but this reusable mesh filter keeps the grounds from getting into your coffee and has saved me many times where I’ve run out of paper filters. It also has a washable, removable silicon ring to prevent scratches to your apparatus.
Now for a breezier, hands-off option. With six brewing modes—including a “fast” option, “strong” presets, and a custom “my brew” function—Breville’s Precision Brewer will make you a great cup of coffee at home. There are customizable flavor and taste settings, a cold-brew function, and a separate shower head adapter used to make a single cup of pour-over coffee with Hario V60 or Kalita Wave coffee makers.
This whole-bean Breville machine is expensive, but if you’re into espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, it’s worth at least checking out.
What makes this device so pricey? It’s got a built-in automatic grinder, an automatic steam wand, and the digital temperature gives you the right temperature coffee with every cup. The touchscreen display lets you pick settings for the grind, brew, and milk froth level. I’ve tried it and love it.
You're reading How To Brew Coffee In Your Home
While you might have been limited to just a few brands years ago, choosing the best robot vacuum for your home means comparing dozens of brands and types. Today, robot vacuums handle vacuuming, mopping, and even empty themselves. You can also pick a vacuum based on your needs, such as just hardwood floors or pets. Whatever your needs, this guide will help you narrow your search.Types of Robot Vacuums
Despite the name, these cleaning assistants often do more than just vacuum. Before you start your search, think about the type of robot vacuum you need.
Image source: Unsplash
Vacuum only – if you’re looking for just a basic machine to get up dirt and debris, this is perfect. These are the cheapest options available to only vacuum. Some models may only work on hardwood floors, but most vacuum-only robots handle both carpets and hardwood floors.
Mop only – if vacuuming isn’t really a big deal for you, you may prefer a robot vacuum that just mops. These are usually reserved for more heavy-duty mopping and feature larger water tanks than dual vacuum + mop models.
Vacuum + mop – as the name implies, it does both. The only downside is that you’ll need to switch between modes and set zones to prevent these vacuums from trying to mop your carpets and rugs.
Self-emptying. – if you want a set-it-and-forget-it type of robot vacuum, you may want to splurge on a self-emptying model. These can clean your home multiple times before you have to empty the bin that’s connected to the charging base.
Hands-free – with standard vacuum + mop models, you have to connect the mop pad, manually switch modes when you just want to vacuum, and set up zones to ensure your carpets don’t get wet. A hands-free model like the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ can do all that without any intervention from you. It can detect carpets, automatically lifts the mop pad out of the way, and only mops on hard floors. Plus, it empties itself.
While those are the main options, you’ll also need to think about all the other features you might need to have onboard.Common Robot Vacuum Features
Once you have the type picked out, it’s time to start looking at the various features. While some models are barebones and offer basic suction at a low price, others offer features you didn’t even know you might need.
The best robot vacuum includes all the features you could want and maybe a few extras:
A self-emptying bin – while not a necessity, if you have a larger home or pets, you may want a self-emptying model. The number of times the vacuum empties depends on the size of the dust bin. You could go from having to empty your vacuum daily to just weekly.
Intelligent mapping – if you want the most efficient vacuuming possible, opt for intelligent mapping. This feature scans your room to create the best map for your room. After an initial mapping period, the vacuum follows its chosen map. This can enlarge the size of an area that is cleaned before the battery gets low.
Object collision avoidance – for most homeowners, this is kind of a must. The last thing you want is scuff marks and scratches all over your furniture because the vacuum bangs into it. With this feature, the vacuum identifies an object in the way and moves around it. On pet-friendly models, this can also include pet accidents so that you’re not trying to scrub excrement out of the brush roll.
Navigates different floors with ease – this feature lets your robot vacuum go from carpets to hard floors, to rugs, and back again with ease. Some of the top models don’t even roll up rug edges. This is ideal for higher pile carpets and homes where there’s a slight dip or step up to move to the next room.
In-app options – the vacuum companion app is incredibly important. It should allow you to set zones and/or rooms, set schedules, manually navigate, switch between modes, adjust suction and water levels, and see the latest cleaning times. Most robot vacuums are compatible with both iOS and Android, so that’s not really a concern anymore.
Voice control – another handy feature to have is voice assistant control. While you can always use the app, being able to tell your voice assistant you want to clean up a mess is even easier. Most robot vacuums that support voice control support both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. However, some models, such as the Roborock S7 and Roborock S4, offer Siri support.
Camera – this is most often found on robot vacuums designed for pet homes. Think of it as a roving security camera. Easily check in on your home while the vacuum is docked or cleaning.
Tangle-free brushes – some robot vacuums come with multiple rollers: one with a brush and one without, also known as a tangle-free brush. These are popular in pet homes so that you don’t have to pick tangled pet hair out of the brush.
Tip: did you know that you can use Google Assistant even with your phone locked? We show you how.Other Things to Keep in Mind
Before we start recommending the best robot vacuum for different situations, there are a few more things to consider. First, you should think about battery life. Overall, this isn’t much of a concern for smaller homes, as the average robot vacuum can easily handle several rooms before needing to return to charge.
If you have a larger home, you’ll want to look for vacuums that can handle a larger square footage per charge. Otherwise, your vacuum might spend a lot of time going back and forth to the charger each time it cleans.
Image source: Ecovacs
The second thing you’ll want to keep in mind is suction power. A general average is 2,000Pa to 4,000Pa, though some are slightly more powerful. For instance, the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni offers 5,000Pa. But the higher the suction power, the less it can clean between charges. Usually, robot vacuums let you choose between different suction levels based on your needs.
A final consideration is integration with your smart home. While many robot vacuums do connect via Wi-Fi, some cheaper models and even a few higher-priced models don’t. If you want the vacuum to work with your smart home, ensure you get a Wi-Fi capable vacuum that also works with your chosen platform, such as Amazon, Google, or Apple.Robot Vacuum for Different Needs
While the top brands include Roomba, Roborock, Ecovacs, and Xiaomi, they’re not the only options. However, they do tend to break out the most innovative features first. In what follows, we take a look at some of the best options available on the market, based on specific needs.Best Robot Vacuums for Carpets
If you’re mainly interested in cleaning carpets and rugs, you might want to consider the following models:iRobot Roomba s9+
With two brushes, including one that’s tangle-free and powerful suction, the iRobot Roomba S9+ is perfect for carpets and pet homes. Featuring multi-stage cleaning and fast floor detection, it can easily change the suction power based on carpet or hardwood floors. It can also empty itself into the main bin for up to 60 days.Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro+
Powerful suction and the ability to detect carpets to avoid mopping them make the Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro+ a great choice. It doubles the suction when carpets are detected and empties itself. If you want a great two-in-one, this is a great mid- to high-range model.Shark RV1001AE IQ Robot Self-Empty XL
If you have longer hair or pets and hate constantly cleaning the brushroll, the Shark RV1001AE IQ Self-Empty XL could be your best choice. It empties itself for up to 45 days and has a self-cleaning brushroll. Of course, it also has powerful suction, capable of handling both small and large debris.
If you’re looking to get a security camera instead, check out our recommendations that will complement your smart home.Best Robot Vacuums for Mopping
If you mainly have hardwood or need more powerful mopping, you may want to consider:iRobot Braava Jet M6
The iRobt Braava Jet M6 is strictly for mopping. It can handle ultra-sticky messes, grease, and spills with ease. Its thin size lets it go under furniture to take care of spills that leak to your chairs, tables, and couches.Roborock S7
While the Roborock S7 handles both vacuuming and mopping, its sonic mopping technology uses the power of sound to better clean your floors. By scrubbing your floor up to 3,000 times per minute, even the toughest spills and dirt are mopped up.Bissell SpinWave Hard Floor Expert Robot Best Robot Vacuums for Pets
Most robot vacuums will pick up pet hair, but some do it better than others, such as:iRobot Roomba j7+
This is the vacuum-only model of the j7+ mentioned earlier. However, incredible suction and the ability to identify pet accidents make the iRobot Roomba j7+ ideal for pet homes. A three-stage clean offers up to 10 times the dirt-lifting power.Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni
While it’s one of the more expensive models, the Evovacs Deebot X1 Omni has some of the most powerful suction around. It not only removes pet hair easily but also identifies obstacles and mops up muddy footprints.Eufy RobotVac G30
If you need a quieter robot vacuum, Eufy has you covered with the RobotVac G30. Not only does it provide a quiet clean, but it automatically adjusts the suction based on the surface. Plus, it’s a great budget-friendly model.Budget Considerations
Obviously, budget may be a major consideration when finding the best robot vacuum. The good news is that you can get a great vacuum starting at less than $200 if you look for deals, such as Black Friday or Prime Days.
Usually, lower-priced models don’t have quite as many features, but often they clean just as well as their higher-priced counterparts. You might have to forgo Wi-Fi connectivity and smart home integration, self-emptying bins, and less sophisticated navigation.
A few great budget-friendly robot vacuums include the Eufy RoboVac 11S for $230 and the Roborock E4 for $188. The Eufy doesn’t have Wi-Fi or an app. It’s remote control only. However, the cheaper Roborock E4 features an app and Wi-Fi connectivity. Both clean well, but the Roborock vacuums and mops.
If you’re okay spending a little more, most of the options previously mentioned retail for over $500. One of the most expensive ones we’ve listed is the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni for $1,550. The iRobot Roomba j7+ (vacuum-only model) comes in at $800.
Just remember, paying a little less doesn’t mean you’re getting a lower-quality robot vacuum. In conclusion, look for great deals and you can often score high-price robot vacuums for significantly less. Or, opt for a lower-priced model that offers most of the features you want.
Good to know: have a Google or Amazon display at home? Learn how to easily turn it into a digital photo frame.Get Inspired
At Make Tech Easier, we’ve put a variety of robot vacuums to the test so that you don’t have to. Check out some of our recent reviews to see if any of these great options are right for you:Frequently Asked Questions Can any robot vacuums handle stairs?
Not yet. However, most do have fall avoidance technology to prevent them from falling down stairs.How well do robot vacuums handle corners and edges?
Some robot vacuums handle edges and corners better than others. Look for models that specifically state “edge cleaning” for the best results.
Image credit: Unsplash
Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.
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Without getting too deep into neuroscience, it’s important to recognize that you environment plays a key role in shaping your state of mind.
A great example of this is context-dependent memory. This shows that learning something in one environment makes it easier to recall that same information when we return to that same location. So if you wanted to study for an exam, the best place would be the examination room itself!
State-dependent learning goes one step further, showing that our state of mind and mood can also impact memory retrieval.
This applies to our home office, as we now know that building an association between a place and a set of skills/memories/activities will actually make us better at entering into the right state of mind. If you work in the living room, where you also watch Netflix and play with the kids, you won’t create that strong association and it will be harder to get into a productive state of mind.What to do if you don’t have space for a home office setup
If you don’t have space for a separate room, there are options that can work nearly as well. One strategy is to cordon off an area of your living room or another room in your home. This might mean facing into one corner of the main lounge for instance. Try to create some separation by using changes in décor, or by physically sectioning that area off (using a long couch works well).
Also read: 5 home office accessories under $50 you’ll want to invest in
Another option is to actively set up and then take down your work area. You can do this by using a folding desk, and/or by stowing a laptop in a draw. This helps to create separation again, and the physical act of constructing and deconstructing your workspace sends a strong signal to your brain.Rules for your office Do not disturb
Clearly communicate to your family/housemates how important it is that you not be disturbed.
Create a system that you can use to show you are “unavailable.” This might mean hanging something on the door handle for example, or simply shutting the door. If you are just responding to emails, leave the door ajar to say that it’s okay for you to be disturbed (though still not ideal).
Use noise cancelling headphones. Create a productivity playlist that you can play loudly and on repeat!
Where possible, keep the office far from the noisiest rooms in your home.
What’s also a good idea is to turn off notifications on your phone and computer. While you may need to check Slack and Gmail when you start your work day, constant pings will only pull you away from what you are doing. Create set times during your workday to check emails and notifications, such that the ball remains firmly in your court. Tim Ferriss has more ideas about how to achieve this in his book The Four Hour Workweek.
See also: Best noise cancelling headphones
Finally, remove distractions in your home office setup that will attempt to pull your attention away from work. This is not the right place to keep your Nintendo Switch for example, or a television!Designing your office setup Lighting
Lighting can be a great tool to create a certain ambience in your home office setup and thereby create a powerful association. One of the best options is to use some kind of colored lighting. Not only can colored lighting have direct effects on your mood, but this also helps to create a very definite “cue” that will tell your brain that it is back in the office.
See also: The 5 best smart light bulbs – Philips Hue, LIFX, and moreRich environments
One of the best forms of decoration to create this rich environment is something that will inspire you to work. Again, this helps to put you in the right “zone” for the work you’re about to do. This was recommended by Cal Newport in the book Deep Work as part of his hypothetical “eudaimonia machine” (a space dedicated to creating a productive mindset).More ways to create separation
Creating a separate space for your home office setup is just one way to separate your work from your downtime. Just as important though, is to avoid bringing work out of the office with you.
One of the best ways to ensure that doesn’t happen is by having a separate work phone. This prevents you from getting notifications while you’re trying to unwind in the evening and means that you can take the day on fresh tomorrow. It also removes the temptation to quickly check email.
More important though, is to ensure that you properly manage your time in order to create more separation between your workday and your time off. This requires discipline and practice, as it is all too easy to fall into the trap of working late “just this once.” The danger is that with your office so close to your couch, you’ll end up with no down-time at all (which isn’t good for your health, your work, or your relationships!).
The work you end up doing late at night is almost never as important as you think it is.
Moreover, the work you end up doing late at night is almost never as important as you think it is. Nor is this likely to be high-quality work. If you absolutely have to get more work done, starting early the next day is preferable.
Also read: Best work from home apps, gadgets, and tools
Creating this strict separation won’t come easy at first, but it’s worth sticking with it. And by using the right home office setup, you will be giving yourself the very best chance of succeeding!
Apple Maps or Google Maps help you to find your way home easily.
But if you have shifted to a new location or did input a wrong address, here is how to change your Home or Office address on your iPhone.
Also know what happens when you switch SIM cards in iPhones.
You can change your home or office address on your iPhone using Google maps. Follow the steps below to do so:
Open the Google Map app on your iPhone.
Tap on the Saved option.
Select the Labeled option under Your Lists.
To change your Home address, tap on the three-dotted menu beside it. To change the Work address, tap on the three-dotted menu next to it.
Choose Edit Home or Edit Work.
Remove your current address and add the new address you want to.
You can change your address on your iPhone using Apple Maps. To do so, follow the steps given below:
Open Apple Maps from your iPhone.
From Favourites, select the Home option.
Tap on Open My Contact Card option.
To open My Contact Card option, you can start your iPhone and tap on Contact. Then select your name and tap on the Edit button.
After you open the My Contact Card option, locate your Home or Work address.
You can then edit it. After adding the proper address, tap on the Done button from the upper right corner of the screen.
If you find that the address has not changed, restart your iPhone, and the changes will take place.
Autofill automatically pulls all your personal information from My Card Contact.
When you change your home or office address, update the information to autofill following the steps given below:
Open the My Card option and tap on the Edit option.
Edit the address and tap on the Done button after you finish.
Autofill will now pull the updated information.
To Pin directions to your home or work address, follow the steps given below:
Open Google maps on your iPhone and tap on Directions.
Choose your mode of transportation to reach your home or workplace.
Tap on the Home or Word that you want to pin.
Finally, tap on the Pin icon.
If you want to delete your address on your iPhone, follow the steps below:
Open Google Maps on your iPhone. From the Saved option, tap on Labeled.
Expand the three dots menu beside Home or Work. Tap on the Remove Home or Remove Work option.
You can set your favorite work or home icon on your iPhone following the steps given below:
Open Google Maps on your iPhone or iPad.
Tap on the Saved option.
User Your Lists find Labeled and tap on it.
Expand the three dots menu beside Home or Work.
Select the Change icon from the options.
Choose a new icon for your Work or Home. Apply the changes by tapping on the save option.
To set your Home or Work address on your iPhone, follow the steps given below:
Open Google Maps on your iPhone.
Tap on the Saved option. Under Your Lists, find the Labeled option.
Select Home or Work and enter the address you want to set.
1. How to change the Home address in Apple Maps?
To change the Home address in Apple Maps, open Apple Maps from your iPhone. Select the Home option from Favourites.
Tap on the open My Contact Card option. Then locate your Home or Work address. Edit the address and tap on the Done button.
2. How to change the Home address on iPhone autofill?
Open My Card option and tap on the Edit button. Edit the address and tap on the Done button. Autofill will now pull the updated information.
3. How to delete a Home address on iPhone?
Open Google Maps on your iPhone. From the Saved option, tap on Labeled.
Expand the three dots menu beside Home. Select the Remove Home option.
Go through the above article to change your home address on your iPhone and send us feedback on how did it work for you.
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›
This article is a segment of 2023’s Best of What’s New list. For the complete tabulation of the year’s most transformative products and discoveries, head right this way.Craftsman’s Sidewinder Tape Measure
Tape measure, teeter no more: Craftsman’s Sidewinder lies flat. While the spool sits at the same orientation as it does in traditional versions, the ruler twists 90 degrees before exiting the plastic casing. This allows the body of the gadget to remain parallel to the floor as the tape, available in 16- and 25-foot lengths, unrolls. $20.DynaGrip’s speed-drying adhesive
Moldings, drywall, flooring, and other home improvements rely on quick-setting glue to fix objects in place while you get ready to fasten them. And DAP’s DynaGrip Heavy Duty Max sets up to five times quicker than other sticky stuff. Within one hour of application, the glue can support nearly 60 pounds per square inch, 13 times more than the typical construction adhesive. And it also holds in colder, wetter weather conditions. $11.Smoker Cabinet
From Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. Kalamazoo outdoor gourmet
There are few meals as dependent on consistency as smoked meat, cooked for hours at a steady, low heat. The Smoker Cabinet (which costs a searing $13,495) has a multi-pronged attack to hold temps. A computer-regulated fan stokes the fire as needed, and a 7-pound column of charcoal burns from the bottom up, so it can smolder for 16 hours without a reload; all the while, a chunk of wood in a basin burns, adding smoky flavor.Power up your water supply
A garden hose can’t handle higher-pressure cleaning tasks like blasting mold off window sills. Drawing from a hose, bottle, or bucket, the motorized pump in WORX’s battery-powered 3.7-pound cleaner pressurizes liquid to a grime-bombing 320psi —five times the strength of a hose—without a power washer’s bulky base. The Hydroshot needs only half a gallon per minute, as opposed to a hose’s 4 to 6 gallons. $112.Brita’s Stream Pitcher
Stop waiting for water to slowly drip into your Brita’s reservoir. Instead of trickling liquid through two tanks, the Stream Pitcher’s filter sits directly in front of its spout so the H2O can purify as you pour. $30.Gerber’s Center-Drive
No matter their myriad appendages, most multitools share one chafing similarity: an awkward grip that makes twisting a pain. To deliver maximum torque, Gerber gave the Center-Drive’s bit driver a slightly curved stem so, when open, it aligns with the center axis of the gadget like a single-purpose tool does.
The multi also includes 15 stalwart attachments, including pliers, blades, and a bottle opener. $89.Logitech’s Pop Smart button
Don’t bother adjusting your smart home’s lights and speakers individually: Stick a 2.4-inch Pop Smart Button on the wall to do that for you. During setup, the app detects smart devices on your Wi-Fi network, then programs them to respond to button presses. Add a special remote, and you can create coordinated programs like a “movie night” mode that turns on the TV, dims lights, and sets temps to the ideal snuggling degree. $40.A mask that lets you breathe better
DDME’s SoftSeal mask. DDME
Most safety masks have a big flaw: gaps at the edges, which allow dust and debris easy passage into your lungs. A silicone seal around the perimeter of DDME’s SoftSeal mask molds the barrier comfortably to your face so its four layers of filters—which block smoke, ash, fine air-pollution particles, and larger allergens, along with living pests such as bacteria, mold, and viruses—can protect you properly. $28 for 10.Grand Award Winner: June Intelligent Oven
Web videos, meal-delivery services, and smart appliances are trying to lure reluctant cooks (ahem, millennials) back into the kitchen with promises of quick, easy meals. Among the latter is the $1,495 June, an intelligent convection cooker that makes crucial decisions for you. Pop in a tray of food, and a camera built into its ceiling recognizes the grub. Based on what it sees, the oven heats to a preset temperature and sets an automatic timer; for tricky proteins like chicken breast and salmon, a digital thermometer double-checks doneness. Six carbon-fiber elements maintain a uniform temperature within the oven to avoid hot-spot surprises or soggy bottoms. When it launched this past December, June had 50 different foods in its recipe bank, including vegetables like broccoli and frozen faves like french fries, but it’s learning new skills all the time. It’s already added 15 new foodstuffs, including bacon and burgers. $2,000.
Best of What’s New was originally published in the November/December 2023 issue of Popular Science.
A recent controversy sparked by smart speaker maker Sonos illustrates the dangers of building a smart home. What happens when the technology you build your home on is suddenly obsolete? That’s the quandary that many Sonos customers are facing this week after the company announced the end of support for its oldest products, some of which have been in use for more than a decade.
Sonos says those older devices are too limited to continue to support with new updates. There’s no need for me to recap the Sonos controversy here – read our coverage for more details.
Sonos got in trouble for initially suggesting that its newer devices won’t be updated if the older devices remain in use, but it’s since walked that back. And it’s also worth noting at the start that this isn’t the first time a smart home appliance maker has aged out a product or service they offered, either. Just the latest high-profile example.
But the issue reminds us of one of the big perils these days of rigging out a home or office with “smart” technology. What happens when the makers of that technology decide it isn’t worth supporting anymore?Smart home upswing
Smart home tech is on the rise. The annual revenue from smart home platforms – already in the billions – is expected to grow in double digits for the next several years. If you walk into any home improvement business like Home Depot, Lowe’s, or even your local hardware store, you’ll see smart home products almost as soon as you walk in. New home builders are enticing customers with built-in new smart home features. In fact, studies show that as many as half of all new home buyers expect to see smart home technology when they’re in the market for a new place.
There’s also a lot of interest from consumers in adding smart tech to existing homes. Homeowners have myriad reasons for incorporating smart technology into their homes. Convenience. Security. Economy, in the cases of learning thermostats and smart outlets.The obsolete smart home
What makes all of these devices different from their dumb counterparts is that the technology that makes them work is constantly evolving. Apple, Google, Amazon, and others are all competing with each other and clamoring to bring new features and functionality to their products, even as consumer tastes change and as the technology evolves.
Smart home appliance makers are flooding the market with sophisticated technology that makes it easy to do things we couldn’t dream of a decade ago. But there’s no guarantee that any of these devices will continue to work after a few years.
Amazon, Apple, and Google and the companies in the Zigbee Alliance understand this, too. Their Connected Home over IP effort is an attempt to stabilize the smart home marketplace with a baseline technical standard for interoperability and compatibility. That doesn’t mean that smart home appliances won’t keep aging out, though.
Hopefully they’ll continue to work, though. Certainly it isn’t novel that the devices we depend on eventually age out of being updated with new features. Look no further than your pocket or desktop for an example. Every year Apple exposes new features in iOS and macOS that make use of new hardware technology. Older devices fall by the wayside. If you’re still using an iPhone 6, for example, you can’t run iOS 13. And an iPhone 6s is going to be very different with iOS 13 than an iPhone 11.In praise of the DIY ethic
All this reminds me that there’s something to be said for “dumb” products. Say what you want about the cheap vinyl mini-blinds I put in my bedroom when we moved in 18 years ago – they work without any firmware updates. I may not be able to rise and lower the shades from my bed, but at least the windows still open even if my iPhone is in the shop.
That’s not to say that I haven’t added smart home technology in where it makes sense, either. But so far I haven’t backed any products or services that have been abandoned yet, either. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky on that count.
Situations like this remind me that I have to be careful when I’m making those decisions about what smart home devices and services to add, though. I’m worried about being overdependent on technology whose ultimate operation is something that’s still up to the manufacturer, not me.
I’d never consider myself a handyman, nor would anyone who’s ever seen my handiwork. But I’m also solidly in favor of the Do It Yourself ethic. That’s why I was interested to learn more about how Raspberry Pi users have been adding HomeKit support to their products. Using a framework called HomeBridge, they’re able to interface HomeKit devices with Raspberry Pis. For folks who’d rather roll their own gear, it’s a cool option.
Anyway, regardless of whether I roll my own or buy a finished product, I have to constantly remember not to overautomate myself, and be wary of backing into dead end technology.
Or just being happy with what I have, no matter how antiquated.
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