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New gadgets take smart homes

A new bathtub gives the feeling of weightlessness while users bathe by mimicking the natural position of astronauts when they float in low-gravity conditions.

If weightlessness isn’t for you, there are plenty of other smart-home gadgets that can bring your living spaces to the cutting edge of home design.

Many of this year’s products demonstrate that smart-home technology is no longer restricted to performing one isolated task.

There’s a door alert system that not only provides LED nightlights but also extends the range of your home’s WiFi.

A voice-activated smart mirror can change the lighting to preset options, tell you today’s weather and traffic, and play music from your favorite internet stations.

Jesse Lemel, senior product manager at Kohler, explained why manufacturers are designing products that fulfill more than one function.

“We know from our market research you don’t have enough counter space today (and) you don’t have enough outlets today,” Lemel said. “Do you really want to take up that countertop space and that outlet so you can add this feature? Or would you rather seamlessly integrate it?”

Fully integrated home security systems are another prominent trend in the smart-home space, with one brand incorporating security features even though it isn’t traditionally considered a home security company.

The automatic lighting system has a button that allows homeowners to quickly turn on preselected lights if they hear an intruder.

In designing the new gadgets, Lemel said, tech firms are trying to devise “how do you take known, little, everyday things to make that experience a little bit better?”

A new conversion kit from Kwikset lets you turn traditional door locks into smart locks you can control from any Internet-connected device. The Z-Wave technology is compatible with several major lock brands, not just Kwikset, and allows users to monitor which doors are locked as well as provide remote entry to their home for visitors.

• Ring, the home security company once known only for its line of video doorbells, has unveiled a full suite of monitoring devices that integrate with their new app. This includes a set of battery-powered and motion-activated outdoor lights that integrate with the alarm and cameras to send alerts to the user’s mobile device. It also includes motion-activated cameras (some of which can be battery powered), flood and freeze detectors, smoke and carbon monoxide sensors and a discreet control hub that integrates all the systems.

• Beam, one of several home-monitoring devices showcased by Zmodo, sends alerts to a mobile device when doors are open (including interior doors), extends a home’s WiFi range and provides LED night lighting in three color options.

• Carrier introduced a ductless air conditioner with the highest efficiency rating on the market. The 9,000 BTU-per-hour single-zone air conditioner can also provide heat during winter and manage humidity levels using an integrated humidity sensor. It comes with a connected WiFi feature so users can control the device via the mobile app and a motion detector to reduce energy use when no one is in the room.

• Verdera, the Alexa-enabled smart mirror by Kohler can adjust to preset lighting customizations, play music and podcasts from sites such as Pandora and Spotify, and provide a motion-activated night light. Verdera was named a CES Innovation Awards honoree at this year’s conference.

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