Tech House / Simplifying chores, adding luxury
Relax with this automated mower.
Images courtesy of vendors
Beauty being in the eye of the beholder, there might be nothing more beautiful than a backyard that melds the natural outdoors with modern technology. Just because a poolside chair and a cold glass of lemonade don’t require electronics doesn’t mean that electronics can’t make them more enjoyable.
Sometimes, electronics simply give you more time to appreciate your beautiful backyard by reducing the time it takes to maintain it. Lawn mowing might be the most time-consuming chore, but Husqvarna’s Automower (shown above) can take lawn mowing from manual labor to spectator sport. Automower uses GPS technology to chart a course across even large yards and includes sensors for avoiding obstacles over terrain with slopes up to thirty-five percent; it even directs itself to a charging station when needed. Husqvarna also touts Automower’s anti-theft features, low noise, and small clipping size. (husqvarna.com; $1,999.95 and up)
Dry, brown patches of grass can impact backyard aesthetics, and a good drought can keep an entire lawn from looking its best. Using an app and Wi-Fi connectivity, Rachio smart sprinkler systems keep lawns hydrated with more concern for environment. Rachio’s head unit easily replaces a traditional sprinkler controller, and lets users schedule fixed waterings, or allows Rachio’s technology to calculate optimal watering schedules based on soil type, vegetation, and amount of sun exposure, and even set up customized zones based on vegetation density. Rachio also collects weather information from thousands of local stations and can prevent a scheduled watering if it is already raining. (rachio.com; $199.99 and up)
Rachio smart sprinkler systems
Garden maintenance is another time-consuming chore, but Glowpear Urban Gardens are modular units, designed for use in urban spaces, that make effective use of limited space. These units, available in wall, rail, or bench configurations, include water reservoirs that can be filled and are integrated with an automated watering system. Modular designs allow them to be installed individually or interconnected to create a larger single unit. Glowpear also sells seed cocktails designed for different seasons and including a variety of fruits and vegetables. (glowpear.com; $99.99 and up)
All that free time means more time in the pool; however you use it, it’s better with music, and SuperStar BackFloat speaker by Monster makes it easy to choose tunes for any activity. The floating, waterproof SuperStar BackFloat is designed for an optimal audio experience, and includes two front full-range drivers and bass radiators. Bluetooth sensors connect with a remote smartphone, meaning you can make handsfree calls as well. SuperStar BackFloat includes a USB charging cord, plays seven hours of music on a full charge, and is useful for the shower, beach, or other water settings. (monsterproducts; $149.95)
When it’s time for dinner, barbeque enthusiasts might enjoy Char-Broil’s Digital Electric Smoker with SmartChef Technology, an electric smoker unit that can slow-roast many cuts of meat. Wi-Fi connectivity allows control from a remote app, giving users freedom to enjoy company. The smoker box can hold up to four cups of wood chips and allows eight times the smoking time of other electric smokers. The connected app displays the temperature of the meat and chamber, and estimated cook times; it also sends notifications when the smoker is done preheating or the meat is done. (charbroil.com; $399.99)
Grillmasters can get a perfect sear with Weber’s iGrill 2 meat thermometer, which magically mounts to a grill lid and connects up to four probes to monitor temperatures in multiple cuts of meat. The display is illuminated and works for up to 200 hours on a single charge. Bluetooth sensors give the iGrill 2 a wireless connectivity range of 150 feet for connecting with a smartphone app that displays meat temperatures. (weber.com; $99.99)
SunBrite TV’s signature series television
While the food cooks, gadgetry can even add a new dimension to the typical game of catch. Aspiring quarterbacks can pick up the Wilson X Connected Football, which includes Bluetooth sensors that collect data to measure velocity, distance, spiral efficiency, spin rate, and accuracy. The technology also enables different play modes that measure the quality of a user’s throw for in-game and final drive scenarios. (wilson.com; $149.99)
As the sun sets, tiki torches create a perfect luau experience, but many give off unpleasant, acrid smoke. Tiki Brand’s upgraded Clean Burn Fireplaces use Tiki’s Clean Burn fuel, a fuel formula comprising eighty-five percent plant products to create less soot than conventional petroleum-based torch fuels. Tiki’s Reusable RoundWick sustains a bright flame for up to three hours using only four ounces of fuel, and its design reduces the risk of fuel spillage. Tiki’s Clean Burn Fireplaces come in an array of designs and colored finishes. (tikibrand.com; $9.99 and up)
Perhaps the greatest mark of backyard luxury is the ability to bring that living room mainstay, television, outside without fear of the elements. SunBrite TV’s signature series television offers a 4K resolution with a direct LED backlight within an all-weather exterior; the Pro version offers the best weather-resistant features. The basic model works best in shaded areas while advanced models offer picture modes for better clarity in partial-light and full-light situations. SunBrite TV’s signature series models measure up to eighty-four inches and even the basic model is thirty percent brighter than indoor TVs. (sunbritetv.com; $1,499.99 and up)
Steve Brachmann writes on technology, business, and legal topics for IPWatchdog.com, a blog focused on intellectual property topics. He’s been a professional freelance writer since May 2009 and currently lives in Allentown.