This post first appeared on Wareable, in April 2016...
Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that I've been taking liberties with regards to the weekly count of these Smart home diary entries. I've only done one in the last three weeks.
But there's a very good reason for that. A tiny human being is now part of my life and requires constant attention. No, I don't mean Wareable features editor Sophie Charara. I'm talking about the newest entry to the Lamkin family who was born earlier this month.
However, work carries on at a pace at the new house and my desire to smarten things up is as strong as ever. And, with the new arrival, comes a new set of tech dilemmas to solve. Just how smart can a connected nursery be?
My thinking on this is similar to what I outlined for the connected smart kitchen – I don't want gimmicks. I don't want to clutter the nursery with unneeded Wi-Fi enabled teddy bears, or make my baby sleep in a smart baby-grow that 'may' provide accurate data on her health.
I want to keep things simple and I want to keep things seamless. And, again, I want to make sure that I'm future proofing along the way.
Lighting is obviously key for a nursery and, while I did contemplate installing a couple of Sengled Pulse LED smart bulbs – capable of stereo audio as well as app controlled lighting – I've decided to go for the most straightforward Philips Hue solution. In the future, the little lady may want multi-coloured lighting that she controls from her smartphone / tablet / smartwatch – and that will be as simple as unscrewing and changing a bulb with Hue – but for now dimmable white light is what I want.
If she wakes up in the night and I want to turn up the lights a bit in her room from my phone or smartwatch, that's great, but I also need a solution for when I haven't got those to hand. Luckily Philips now has that covered with the Wireless dimming kit – which comes with a control that can be placed on a wall like a regular dimmer switch, or used remotely. It's super cheap too – you can get a bulb and controller for just $34.95. This being a Hue device it will, of course, also talk to your existing smart bulbs through your bridge – but it's not necessary.
Heating is also very important – and my Nest system should be good for controlling that. For paranoid parents – i.e. me – it's also great that the Nest Thermostat talks to Nest Protect. The smoke and CO sensor can, in an emergency, tell your Nest Thermostat to turn off the heating to keep the danger from spreading. And it can colour warn you through its own LED light, and your Philips Hue bulbs, about certain scenarios. You don't want to wake up a baby with a smoke alarm chirp for low batteries.
Staying with heating and it's important to track a baby's temperature. And while a regular cheap thermometer will do the job, I'm loving the Kinsa smart thermometer ($24.99). It can take baby's temperature under the arm and it stores family profiles in the simple to use app.
Withings is your best bet for live baby monitoring in my opinion. Sure, the Withings Home ($199.95) was originally a regular old smart security camera but it has since rebranded itself as a connected child monitor with extras.
It's a move that paid off as the 2-way communication (with push-to-talk) functionality is great and the nightlight / lullaby music modes will help settle a restless child. It records and streams in HD and the infrared vision wide lens makes it a great option for bed time. For extra security, the Home camera also monitors air quality.
Finally, I'm well aware that the nursery won't be a nursery for long. In time, the baby will grow into a child who will, no doubt, want to be connected to the web at all times. And while she's not having a TV in her room just yet – no doubt she'll want one in a few years. That's why, during phase one, I had the room designated for child#1 wired up with Ethernet and satellite cable.
There are plenty of other great connected baby devices but, to be honest, I haven't even got time to think about them right now, let alone embed them into our lives. Although I've a feeling the Pacif-i smart dummy will come in handy pretty soon.