7 smart home gadgets all the family can use

Smart homes aren't just for you

The number of gadgets you can get to trick out your smartphone just keeps growing and growing – the prices are falling, these devices are getting more functional and simpler to use, and as a result it's easier than ever to turn your smart home dream into a reality.

To help you pick out the right smart home gear for you, here we're going to focus on simple-to-use, intuitive kit that all the family can use or benefit from. Whether you want to crank out some tunes or keep your kids safe, you should find something of interest here.

1. Philips Hue Go

Versatile smart light

Reasons to buy

16 million colours to pick from
Mains or battery powered

Family members of any age can make use of the Philips Hue Go, the smart light that sits by your bed (or anywhere else you like really) and can provide a host of different colours or patterns to suit your tastes. Use it as a nightlight or a desk lamp – it's up to you.

A total of 16 million colours can be cycled through – enough for even the choosiest of teenagers or toddlers – and it works off the mains or a rechargeable battery, so you can take it around the house with you as well. As usual with Hue gear, a smartphone app gives you full control over it.

2. Sonos One

Smart streaming speaker

Reasons to buy

Comes with Alexa built in
Works with a host of music apps

Most people in the family will probably like music, even if you don't all share the same tastes, and the Sonos One has the advantage of coming with Alexa built in as well – you can get weather reports and news bulletins, order pizzas and cabs, and much more besides, courtesy of Amazon's digital assistant.

Add all that to the usual Sonos goodness, including the ability to hook up a wide range of music streaming services that you can control very easily from a phone or desktop app, and this is a brilliant gadget that the whole family will love to make use of.

3. Nest Protect

Keep the family safe

Reasons to buy

Advanced smoke detection
Smartphone app control

Maybe a smart smoke alarm isn't the first gadget your kids are going to want to play around with when they get home from school, but it'll certainly go a long way to keeping your whole family safe from fire and carbon monoxide.

There are nice touches everywhere on the Nest Protect: the ability to silence the alarm with your phone (if you've just burnt the toast, perhaps), the night light that shines out as you walk past, and the way the device tests itself regularly.

Everything can be monitored and managed from the accompanying smartphone app, and of course it works perfectly with other Nest gear too.

4. Anki Cozmo Robot

Fun for all the family

Reasons to buy

Friendly and functional
Recognises individual faces

This is one that the kids will definitely love, though it's fun for adults (and grandparents) to play around with too – the Cozmo robot can roam around the house on its own, recognise who it's talking to thanks to some built-in AI smarts, play music, and keep the children entertained with a variety of games.

It's also very good at stacking boxes, for some reason, and you can access all of the bot's features through a clever smartphone app. There's an educational aspect here too, because Cozmo can be used to teach your kids to code, so it's not all fun and games. What's more, its makers say it can get smarter over time.

5. August smart lock

Who goes there?

Reasons to buy

Operate locks remotely
Control who gets in your house

Allowing everyone safe access to the home is a problem that's been solved by leaving keys under flower pots, or with the neighbours, but August smart locks are a much more elegant solution, allowing you to control door locks remotely. You can let the kids in from school, for example, or grant the cousins access through a smartphone app.

Another added bonus is that if you or the kids forget to lock the door as you head out to school and work, you can do it remotely once you reach the office. The locks made by August work with most single-cylinder deadbolts and you can check a full list here.

6. Ring doorbell

Eyes on the door

Reasons to buy

Access from anywhere
Protect your home

No matter how many of you are at home – the whole family or none of the family – knowing who's at the front door before you open it can go a long way to securing your property and keeping your family safe.

With HD video streaming, night vision, and a rechargeable battery, you can get a clear look at the doorstep from anywhere using the accompanying phone app. Two-way audio lets you speak to delivery drivers or tradesmen alike.

The family angle is that anyone – kids and grandparents alike – can tune into the Ring feed to see whether it's safe to open up the door.

7. Amazon Echo Spot

Alexa goes compact

Reasons to buy

A breeze to operate
All the Alexa smarts

Awww... look how cute it is! One of the newest and smallest members of the Echo family takes what makes the Echo Dot so great and adds a little screen, making it the perfect bedside alarm clock – and it'll also show videos and weather icons at a push.

Of course you're probably not going to settle down and watch a movie on this but the display is big enough for a video call to the grandparents, and like the other gadgets in the Echo range, the Spot is simple to set up and operate.

Add in all the smarts of Alexa, and even though it's not all that cheap, the Echo Spot is a fantastic smart home gadget for you or the kids. 

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.