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Tech traveller: Home tech

Smart home tech can keep an eye on your home while you are away, leaving you to enjoy your trip

By Kate Russell
Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:19 BST, Updated 12 Jul 2021, 12:28 BST


Photograph by Nest

If you're one of those people who can't help wondering if you've left the heating on when you go away, or worry about your empty home being an invitation to burglars, you might consider investing in the latest smart home tech.

I've been testing the Nest collection, which includes a smart thermostat (£279) that saves wasting any energy and keeps your pipes from freezing while away. The thermostat can be programmed really easily through the app and you can even link it to your phone so it knows when you leave the house and adjusts the heating accordingly. There's a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm (£99) and motion-detecting cameras for inside (£159), and out (£179). These all let you monitor activity from your smartphone anywhere in the world. You can even speak to anyone who rings your doorbell, which is useful if you want to tell delivery people where to leave packages. Turning on the alerts function will make sure you're notified if anyone is in your house when they shouldn't be. I also like using my office camera to spy on my cats while I'm away.

On the lighting front, I've installed Phillips Hue connected light bulbs. They're on the expensive side, starting at £60 for the basic two LED bulb kit, but are incredibly easy to set up. Just replace your normal bulbs, then connect them and the hub to your Wi-Fi network. The coloured Hue bulbs allow you to control and change the colour of each bulb independently, creating the perfect ambience for any occasion. You can also programme complex timer schedules and operate them remotely from your phone, creating the illusion of home activity wherever you are.

Get the gadget:

LOHA Flexible Smartphone Stand

To capture the perfect pictures to play with in your apps, a tripod is a really valuable addition to your photography arsenal. LOHA has a fantastic mini tripod that packs away neatly into a very small space, and with a spring-loaded grip and adjustable screw it will hold any brand of smartphone safely in place, even if you have a case or skin on it. The adjustable ball head lets you easily set the angle of your camera, even snapping portrait shots but the best bit is the flexible legs, making it perfect for setting up a steady shot on any kind of terrain. You can even wrap the legs around a lamp post or tree branch to capture some really unusual angles. RRP: £22.49

Kate Russell is a technology reporter for @BBCClick and author of Working the Cloud

Follow @katerussell

Published in the November 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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