Holiday home… control your house from the beach

Systems such as Philips Hue can remotely control your home while you're on your hols

Systems such as Philips Hue can remotely control your home while you’re on your hols

Going on holiday no longer means leaving your home at the mercy of teenage house sitters who are more likely to invite several hundred Facebook ‘pals’ round for an impromptu demolition job than feed Barry the goldfish… No, the modern-day traveller can hook up the smartphone and control their home directly from the poolside. Here are some gadgets to help make young Joey redundant and create your very own remote control home.

Smart thermostat: Heat your house from the beach

Return  to a home that you've set to mimic the beach you're currently lounging on

Return to a home that you’ve set to mimic the beach you’re currently lounging on

Not looking forward to swapping a tropical beach for a chilly semi in Sidcup? Stave off the holiday blues by setting your house to mimic the very beach on which you’re lounging. The Tado system follows your smartphone’s location via GPS and turns the heating up or down the further away or closer to home you get. You can set minimum or maximum temps for when you’re in or out – ensuring the goldfish tank won’t freeze over as you head to Australia for a month. It’s great for saving money, too, with Tado claiming its smart thermostat will help consumers save an average 27 percent in heating costs – about £180 per year.
Beach control verdict: Keep that holiday feeling going on your return and great for making sure stay-at-home pets aren’t left shivering. Savings on energy bills are another bonus.
How much:  £199.00
Where: Currys.co.uk
App download here:
Android


How to install video


Flower Power: Monitor your precious plants from the pool

You have the flower power... keep an eye on your plant life from the beach

You have the flower power… keep an eye on your plant life from the beach

You might be well-watered as you sip on a pina colada and slip in for a dip while lounging in the grounds of your 5-star hotel – but are your prized plants fighting for life back at home? Can you really trust your 16-year-old stay-at-home offspring to drag himself away from a week-long orgy of online gaming to discharge his flower-watering duties? No need to fret, simply grab the Parrot Flower Power – a unique sensor that sits in the ground or pot and assesses plants’ needs and sends alerts directly to your smartphone. Monitoring and analysing sunlight, temperature, fertilizer and moisture levels in the soil or compost, Flower Power will send an alert to your phone when you need to give your appointed plant-carer a subtle nudge towards the watering can. Advice is targeted to individual needs selected from the developer’s database for more than 6,000 plants. The app is free and available for both Android and Apple devices.
Beach control verdict: Perfect for easing concerns of the green-fingered traveller who’s entrusted their prize foliage to a less enthusiastic gardener.
How much:  £49.99 for the sensor
Where: store parrot com
App download here:
Android

Apple 


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The Ring™ Video Doorbell: Answer your doorbell anywhere in the world

See who's calling at your door wherever you are... and talk to them, too

See who’s calling at your door wherever you are… and talk to them, too

Want to know who’s knocking on your door while you’re away on holiday? Yep! The The Ring™ Video Doorbell is the answer for you. With two-way communication and a HD camera with night vision you can always be in. When someone rings the bell, your smartphone calls you and you can see who’s at the door and talk directly to them – from the beach, pool or wherever you are. The system also has a motion detector to alert you of movement on your property. You can even record all footage to the Cloud.
Beach control verdict: From security to dealing with deliveries and friends, this is an invaluable piece of kit in the home-control freak’s arsenal.
How much: £132.00
Where: ring.com/
App download here:
Android
Apple


How it works

How it works

How it works


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PetCube: Communicate with your pooch from poolside

Talk to the animals from the beach... even Dr Doolittle deserves a holiday

Talk to the animals from the beach… even Dr Doolittle deserves a holiday

Perfect for pet fans who spend their hols worrying about the wellbeing of stay-at-home animal pals, the PetCube allows you to monitor a room at home and watch your dog, cat, rabbit etc… on your smartphone or tablet – wherever you are. View your pet’s antics via a 138-degree live video stream – and you can even use the PetCube’s built-in speak to talk directly to the animal. You can also interact with pets and help them exercise using the laser-light feature, which shines a red dot around the room at home – directed by wherever you touch the screen. Great for a game of chase.
Beach control verdict: Research reveals that many Brits avoid holidays because they don’t want to leave their pet alone, so this could be the perfect answer. Simply hook into the local Wi-Fi to stay in virtual touch with your pet. Great for when you’re back at home and working, too.
How much:  £132.00
Where: petcube com
App download here:
Android

Apple


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Smartfeeder: Use this robot to feed your pets

Grab your phone and feed your pet from poolside

Grab your phone and feed your pet from poolside

You’ll probably have a friend or relative feeding your pet, but what happens when they’re not there – or if you’re just going away for a few days and can’t get any kitty cover? Not a problem, dispense treats or schedule main feeds using your smartphone from wherever you are in the world. The feeding robot will serve up dry food, then report back to your phone confirming the meal was delivered and how many calories your pet has received. The feeder will also report back if there was a malfunction or jam – so you won’t be coming back to a hungry and distinctly cross cat! The system can also be fitted with an accessory to provide water.
Beach control verdict: Controlling pet meals from the poolside is a great idea and the fully-featured dispenser is well-thought out with safety measures to ensure your pet doesn’t go hungry. This product is expected to launch by summer 2015.
How much:  £165.59
Where: petnet.io
App download here:
Android
App launching with product


How it works

How it works

How it works


GPS Pet Tracking: Follow your pet’s progress

Live tracking of your pet from wherever you are in the world

Live tracking of your pet from wherever you are in the world

Research reveals Brits are barking mad when it comes to leaving their pets behind as they head off on their hols – with one in 10 taking a pic of their four-legged friend with them. However, pet fans can relax with a GPS tracker from Pawtrax.co.uk. Simply fit a lightweight collar to your pet and enjoy live tracking sent straight to your mobile phone or tablet wherever you are in the world. You can even set up zones, where automatic alerts are sent should your home-alone pet step beyond its limits – allowing you to alert your pet-sitter. Updates are sent via a sim card with a pay-as-you-go GiffGaff option costing around 5p for 1000 messages.
Beach control verdict: With the new track offering updates every 20 seconds, this device should help ease the fears of pet lovers left biting their nails and unable to enjoy their pina colada while their pet’s home alone.
How much: From £125 (for a cat)
Where: Go animal trackers at pawtrax
App download here:
Android

Apple

Carlock: Keep a smart eye on your car

Follow your car's movements or merely make sure it's battery isn't going flat for your return from the beach

Follow your car’s movements or merely make sure its battery isn’t going flat for your return from the beach

If you’ve parked your car with APH you’ll have nothing to worry about, but you might still be concerned with a second car that’s been left at home…That’s where Carlock steps in. Simply plug the small device in to your car’s diagnostic port, download the app and your wheels will never be more than a glance at your smartphone away. The system will show you exactly where your car is – and let you follow it in real time should it be stolen. You can also set ‘lock’ areas, defining an area in which your car must remain. The app will also alert you if your car battery is running low and risking a non-start when your return from holiday (not a problem if you’re staying with APH, just let us know and we’ll be ready with our mobile starter pack.
Beach control verdict: Great app that’s simple and reliable, with all the information you’ll need to remotely keep an eye on your prized chariot. Not just for when you’re on holiday, either. Order now with shipping starting in April
How much:  £99.50 + £5.50/pm tracking fee
Where: carlock.co
App download here:
Android

Apple

Icedot helmet crash sensor: Emergency contact for your crash helmet

The little yellow sensor will let your emergency contact know that you're in need of assistance

The little yellow sensor will let your emergency contact know that you’re in need of assistance

If activity holidays are your thing, mounting this clip-on crash sensor to your helmet could be the ultimate in remote-control lifesaving. Simply mount on your helmet – for use on a bike, skiing, climbing etc – and pair it to a companion app running on your smartphone. If it detects critical forces consistent with a crash, it will automatically sound an alarm and alert your emergency contacts with a text message containing GPS coordinates – enabling rescue attempts to be initiated even if you’re knocked out or incapacitated.
Beach control verdict: This device that attaches to any crash helmet is an essential piece of remote-living kit for anyone participating in risky sports while on their own.
How much:  £79.00
Where: icedot.org
App download here:
Android

Apple


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Roost Battery: Stop your home burning while you’re roasting

Smart battery could stop your house burning as you lie in the sun

Smart battery could stop your house burning as you lie in the sun

The Roost Smart Battery is a Wi-Fi-enabled power supply that turns any smoke detector into a smart device that can speak to your smartphone wherever you are in the world. The system will not only keep you up to date with battery level, but also let you know when the smoke alarm goes off – allowing you to notify a neighbour or the emergency services directly from your sunlounger. Takes just minutes to install… no wires, not drilling, just fit the battery and download a smartphone app.
Beach control verdict: This device is especially useful if you live in a remote location where a small fire could go unnoticed and potentially destroy your entire house. Location aside, this makes perfect sense for anyone who spends any time away from home. It’s so easy to get up and running, too. Pre-order now and take delivery in from April.
How much:  £28.00 approx (lasts around five years, according to designers)
Where: smartroost.net
App download here:
Android

Apple


How it works

How it works

How it works


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Let there be light: Flick the switch from poolside

Hue's home... fool your local housebreaker by controlling dimmers, colours and more from the beach

Hue’s home… fool your local housebreaker by controlling dimmers, colours and more from the beach

Want to control your lighting while you’re away? A simple on-off timed socket isn’t really enough to fool your neighbourhood housebreakers, but installing Philips Hue connected lightbulbs certainly can. Turn them on, off and dim them directly from your smartphone – just like you were home and flicking the switch with your very own finger. You can even make pre-set levels and ‘hues’ for while you’re away or back home. Simply buy the bulbs, screw them in and connect them to the Wi-Fi hub. From here, download the app and take control from wherever you lay your hat.
Beach control verdict: A new take on the theory that lights will deter burglars, but the versatility of this smartphone-controlled system is likely to work. Great for when you return, too.
How much:  From £49.95
Where: johnlewis.com
App download here:
Android

Apple


Watch the video


Coffee time: Have a brew ready for your return

I'm home... let your coffee machine know you're on the way home and to do its job

I’m home… let your coffee machine know you’re on the way home and to do its job

You’ve just flown through the night and now you’re heading for home… if only you could be welcomed by a steaming hot jug of freshly brewed coffee! Hold, on, it turns out that you can. Simply buy the Belkin Mr Coffee machine, hook it up to the W-Fi, download the accompanying WeMo app and you’ll be able to schedule 10 cups of the black stuff ready for your return. Surely this is what Wi-Fi and smartphones have always been destined for?
Beach control verdict: There’s nothing like walking into a warm house that smells of freshly-brewed coffee, so this could be just the remote control system to help beat those holiday blues. The machine’s only available in the US, but we’ll update you with a UK launch date asap.
How much:  From £100.00 (additional WeMo products required)
Where: belkin.com
App download here:
Android

Apple

Order your shopping: Visit the supermarket from beside the pool

Do your food shopping from beside the pool

Do your food shopping from beside the pool: image credit

No one wants to return to a fridge containing nothing but a putrefied cucumber and three-week-old slice of pepperoni pizza, so make sure you take advantage of online supermarket shopping and order your weekly shop from the beach. You can then schedule it to be delivered a few minutes after you arrive home, collect it directly from the supermarket as you drive home, or arrange for a relative or friend to sign for it. Use the apps below.

SupermarketClick for appClick for app
Sainsbury’sAndroidApple
TescoAndroid Apple
Waitrose:AndroidApple
AsdaAndroidApple
MorrisonsAndroidApple
OcadoAndroidApple

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