Five of the smartest home gadgets

From app-controlled garden watering to Bluetooth-enabled padlocks

Hozelock Cloud Controller, £135
Hozelock Cloud Controller, £135 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

A remote garden watering system The Hozelock Cloud Controller (£135) – you can see what they’re doing with that clever name – enables you, using an app, to give your garden, roof terrace or greenhouse a well-timed soaking. It can be used with sprinklers or the company’s Easy Drip watering system, which administers smaller amounts of water than a full-on drenching. The highly adaptable system uses meteorological data to help gauge when your greenery needs a drink, but I’d be strongly inclined to go a little off-piste and use the Hozelock Cloud Controller with Dark Sky, a £3.99 best-in-class weather app I discovered recently. It gives an uncannily accurate (in my experience), hyperlocalised and detailed weather forecast for almost anywhere. You really could be on a beach in the Bahamas checking the rainfall over the next few hours back in a specific street anywhere you choose. Find out more about the Hozelock Cloud Controller

Netatmo Presence webcam and security light, £250
Netatmo Presence webcam and security light, £250 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

An outdoor webcam-cum-security light This outdoor camera from French internet-of-things firm Netatmo is disguised as – and, indeed, doubles as – an automatic proximity security light. But it does more than just that – the Netatmo Presence (£250) can distinguish between people, cars and animals. So, when you’re in a meeting in Osaka and receive a notification that, back home, there’s movement up to 65ft from your garden, garage, boat shed, bike rack, whatever, you learn immediately and to some degree of precision whether the mover is a person, a dog or a vehicle – and, if it’s dark at home, the moving thing will also be lit up by a light so bright that, if the moving thing is human and up to no good, it will simply think it’s a security light and be filmed as it’s running away. Learn more about the Netatmo Presence

Noke padlock, $80
Noke padlock, $80 | Image: Hugh Threlfall
Vorwerk VG100 window cleaner, £249
Vorwerk VG100 window cleaner, £249 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

A Bluetooth home-security device After millennia without significant innovation, traditional locks and keys are coming under sustained electronic attack. This tough Bluetooth padlock, Noke ($80) – pronounced “No Key” – is ideal for sheds, bicycles, gates and plenty of other domestic applications. It can be opened via a smartphone app and has a number of clever features. For instance, you can allow others to unlock your bike, pool, whatever, even on a one-off basis. And if you lose your phone or its battery has run down, you can open the lock physically with a pre-programmed sequence of long and short presses. The battery (a standard watch battery) will last for over a year of regular use, and the app can manage several locks at once. Read more about the Noke

Tabcat tracker, £70
Tabcat tracker, £70 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

A vacuum-powered window cleaner I heard about VG100 window cleaner (£249) the very day I’d paid someone £30 to rearrange the dirt and streaks on my windows. This effective and deeply satisfying little machine (which costs the same as about eight visits from the window cleaner), is made by German company Vorwerk, which is famous for making vacuum cleaners. It works by coating glass in a special fluid then vacuuming off the dirt/fluid mix, leaving expanses of streak-free clean glass. It’s best for large troublesome panes, such as an entire glass wall that professional cleaners never quite seem to get perfect. Find out more about the Vorwerk VG100

A high-tech cat tracker Clever London company Loc8tor uses RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) rather than the more modern Bluetooth in this peerless gadget for tracking lost cats to an exact location, down to even the last few centimetres. The Tabcat tracker (£70) comes with a tag that has a splashproof silicone case, attaches to a cat’s collar and works at a range of up to 122m outdoors. The device can be used to track as many as four cats at a time, and you may even be able to train them to come back of their own accord when you press the “locate” button, which makes the tag beep. Discover more about the Tabcat tracker

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