If you thought your smartphone was the only gadget with brains in your home, wait 'til you get a load of your next dishwasher (that texts you when it's done), baby monitor (with wireless video access) and lights that turn off (when you leave the room).
There's no shortage of smart devices for today's homes, and if your bank account is as big as your ambition, so the following are a handful of ideas to consider.
We've seen Internet-enabled refrigerators in the past but Samsung's latest — the RF4289 (US $2,999) — goes one step further with integrated Wi-Fi connectivity and support for multiple apps on the 8-inch LCD touchscreen, just like your smartphone or tablet. Who needs apps on a fridge, you say? How about tapping and flicking through Epicurious recipes, Facebook profiles while you're waiting for your baking to be done, Weatherbug forecasts, AP news, Picasa photos, streaming Spotify music and a Google Calendar to keep the family organized. The four-door fridge offers 28 cubic feet of storage and ultra-bright but energy-efficient LED lighting.
Nest ($249) is a "learning thermostat" that helps you save money on electricity at home as it can automatically turn itself down when you're away and guide you to energy-efficient temperatures when you're at home. Through a combination of sensors, algorithms, machine learning and cloud computing, Nest can save you up to 20 percent on your home heating and cooling bills, says the company. You can also make adjustments remotely over the Internet via a free app, if desired.
Now this is a table worth pulling up to. Samsung's SUR40 ($7,599) is Microsoft's second-gen multitouch table measuring just 4-inches thick, yet it houses a Full HD 1080p 40-inch display covered with a sheet of toughened Gorilla Glass. Unlike the first Surface table, the SUR40 doesn't use cameras underneath the table to recognize finger-touches — instead Microsoft's PixelSense technology can handle more than 50 simultaneous touch-points from fingers, hands and objects. Imagine sitting with your family after a vacation, flicking digital photos back and forth between each other, so everyone can pik their favorite to create a family slideshow for YouTube.
Fusing the Internet with a big-screen television, Smart TVs offer hundreds of apps to populate your screen with, wireless connectivity with other devices in your home (laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.) and a full web browser in which to surf with your feet up on the coffee table. LG's 55-inch Cinema 3D Smart TV (model # LM8600; $1,545) has these features, along with the ability to control content with your voice or gestures, Skype calling and Dual Play technology that lets two gamers who don 3D glasses see an entire screen with their own unique view of the action (bye-bye lame split-screen play).
The iRobot Roomba 630 ($349.99) is one of those vacuum cleaning robots that can go about your home and suck up dirt, crumbs and pet hair off carpet, hardwood, tile or laminate. Simply plug in the iRobot to charge it up and when you leave for the day, turn it on and let it do its job. As the most affordable of all Roomba products, the 630 chooses from dozens of decisions more than 60 times per second to clean efficiently, whether it's to go over an area again, tuck into areas not easy to clean (under beds, couches) or hug walls and counters as it makes its way around the premises.
More smart tech for the kitchen: Delta's Pilar pull-down kitchen faucet (about $400) features Touch2O technology, which lets you touch anywhere on the faucet with a part of your body — say, you're elbow or forearm because you just touched raw chicken with your hands — to start and stop the flow of water. Some of the bathroom faucets from this company have a proximity sensor, so you don't need to touch anything at all to turn it on, and it will shut off automatically, too. Those who turn off the water flow every time they brush will save nine gallons of water every day (if they brush three times a day for a minimum of two minutes).
When is a mirror not just a mirror? When it's also a television, of course. The Hidden Vision by Aeria ($2,399) is a 42-inch commercial-grade LG LCD TV you can mount to your wall like any other television. But as its name suggests, when you turn off the 1-inch thick TV, it becomes a reflective mirror. In fact, you wouldn't even know it was a TV when it's not displaying a picture. Aeria also offers waterproof mirrored TVs for the outdoors and for the bathroom: some models replace your existing bathroom mirror, allowing you to watch the news while you shave or brush your teeth, while others can be mounted in a shower.
Smart alarm clock
If you're having trouble getting up for work or school, perhaps all you need is a smarter alarm clock? Cruel and cool at the same time, the Clocky ($39) -- when it goes off — rolls off your night table and quickly moves around with its large, rubber legs and durable body. The only way you can turn off its loud alarm is to find where the Clocky rolled, such as under the bed or across the room — and by the time you do this, you're awake and ready for the day. At least you can set this mobile alarm clock to snooze once before it takes off on you. The Clocky is available in multiple colors.