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5 ways to jump-smart your e-home

Chris LaMorte, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

It used to take a lot of money to make your home a smart home. A doctorate in software and/or electrical engineering didn't hurt, either.

Today, making your house smarter is as easy as plugging in a light bulb. Literally.

Better still, you can select the specific kind of intelligence you need: whether it's setting the right lighting for a romantic date, picking out a cute outfit, helping you become better at singing in the shower (or just helping you avoid being scalded.)

Here are five gadgets that will help you live smarter.

1. Improving your singing in the shower

Moxie Showerhead & Wireless Speaker, $199, kohler.com

What it is: A combination speaker and shower head.

Why it's so smart: It pairs with any Bluetooth-enabled device to deliver up to seven hours of music while you soap up. Of course, if you're looking for the morning traffic report while you get ready, you can tune in to the news. But that's not as fun to sing along with.

2. Helping you sleep better at night, but in a totally different way

Dreampad pillows, $159-179, dreampadsleep.com

What it is: A pillow that sings you to sleep ... well, sort of.

Why it's so smart: Download the app, then plug your phone into this pillow (or use the Bluetooth adapter). Then via something called bone conduction, gentle vibrations from your music (or pre-loaded spa sounds) work their way into your ear. The makers say science backs them up when it comes to this product's ability to help you relax your way into a good night's sleep.

3. Press here for a smarter home

Flic, starting at $34.99, flic.com

What they are: Brightly colored, programmable little Bluetooth-connected buttons replace your smartphone apps. Place wherever you choose -- your desk, bedside or near the tub -- and program them to do an app's job: from controlling lights, or turning on music, to ordering an Uber.

Why they're so smart: No one likes to fumble with a smartphone when taking a bath.

4. Your fashion sensor

Alexa Look, $199.99, amazon.com

What it is: You've probably heard of Amazon's Alexa, the tech company's handy personal assistant. This is like Alexa's fashionista little sister.

Why it's so smart: More than just a voice-controlled camera that takes a full-length picture of your outfit, it uses an algorithm to assess your look. It tells you if you're wearing a fashion do -- or don't.

5. Maybe the smartest purchase of all

Eero Home WiFi System, $399, eero.com

What it is: An easy way to extend the reach and reliability of your home Wi-Fi. It coats your home in a mesh of Wi-Fi signals to end dropouts and dead zones.

Why it's so smart: All those smart appliances? They're basically dumb as a doorstop without a strong Wi-Fi signal to help them do their job.

(c)2017 Chicago Tribune

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