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Household gadgets to make your life easier

| Health and Lifestyle

Nowadays, it seems like there’s a gadget for just about everything. While some of these new technologies are just a fad, there are some that could genuinely make your life easier.

We've pulled together a guide to some of the bestselling products available from smart doorbells and robot vacuum cleaners to key finders and lighting that can be controlled from your phone. The following are all just examples and there are alternative options widely available for each of the products listed so it's always worth shopping around to find the best price and best product for your needs.

Ring doorbell

Ring doorbells have increased in popularity in recent years, partly because they’re seen as an excellent security device as well as an easy way to answer your door, even when you’re not home. Ring is just one brand of doorbell cameras and there are others available.

How does a Ring doorbell work?

A Ring doorbell is a smart device that is able to connect to your WiFi (and therefore your smartphone or tablet via an app) to alert you of any activity. You can be notified when someone physically rings the doorbell, allowing you to speak to them even when you’re not there through the microphone and speaker system. You can also be alerted to movement outside your property thanks to built-in motion detection. When you’re not at home and the camera senses movement, you can log in to the app and check to make sure everything is okay at home. It may have just been a neighbour walking past, but the camera can also pick up more worrying activity, if it occurs, such as trespassers on your property.

When movement is sensed, the doorbell can start recording in high-definition colour and these recordings can also be accessed via the app should you need to go back and watch them. You can even be sent a photo preview in real time if you want to know what triggered a notification.

Some of these devices are battery powered whereas others can be hardwired so they never run out of charge. They can make you feel safer in your own home and add an additional layer of security when you’re not there. Plus, you never have to miss a visitor or delivery again.

Amazon Alexa

Alexa devices have taken the world by storm since the first Amazon Echo was released in 2014. In fact, Amazon has stated that it’s sold 100 million Alexa devices in total worldwide and one in five households in the UK have a smart speaker like Alexa.

How does Alexa work?

Alexa is an in home virtual assistant that recognises voice commands in order to carry out a range of tasks for you. It can look up information on the internet, play music, give you a reminder when you need to do something or even switch on lights in the house!

In order for Alexa to work, you must have an Amazon Echo, a smart speaker that has a microphone to understand what you’re saying. Alexa is controlled using your voice, and so the best way to control her (the speaker) is to talk to her. You can activate her by saying “Alexa” and then ask your question or provide your command and she’ll listen to you.

Once you’ve asked your question, she will respond within a couple of seconds, but a lot happens in this time behind the scenes. Your question or command is sent to an Amazon cloud server, which will determine what you’re trying to say and what the answer should be. Then, she will tell you what you need to know or begin an action, such as controlling another smart device.

Alexa gets smarter all the time as she learns more from the commands you give her and the words you use.

You can have multiple Alexa devices in your home, which can work well if you wish to control certain things in different rooms. For instance, the commands you use in the lounge may differ to those you use in a bedroom, and therefore you may want two speakers.

What can you do with Alexa?