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Eight Smart Home Must-Haves

These are the smartest bits of tech for your home.

By Terry Christodoulou
Mon, Mar 15, 2021 5:57amGrey Clock 4 min

Smart domestic features increasingly inform luxury living. And where once this didn’t move past a robotic vacuum or some sensor lights, the ultimate modern home should be stacked with technology that ultimately makes for an elevated daily experience.

Here, eight absolute must-haves.

Savant Pro

Allows for the control of all smart home gadgetry under one system – think lighting, sound, TV, climate control, blinds and more. Video tiling and the TrueControl app allow you to add up to 9 things to a single screen – including from various streaming services – giving you complete control over your entertainment, while. the system also allows you to program ‘scenes’ to be set, which can lock doors, turn off light and engage security cameras from the touch of an Apple watch.

POA; savant.com

Offmat Tulèr Responsive Kitchen

The world’s first responsive kitchen bench, Tulèr weighs, cooks and washes through gesture controls and touch surfaces enabled by a system of state-of-the-art sensors. You’ll feel like a domestic sorcerer as you magically wave at the workspace to open drawers, commence induction cooking, make the kitchen sink appear and disappear and activate built-in countertop scales – which displays weight via a built in light or chosen device.

POA; tipic.it

Embrace Smart Mirror

Believe it or not, ‘splash-proof’ isn’t even the main selling point here, this so-called ‘smart mirror’ making for easy living with in-built voice command, gesture and touch screen capabilities. This allows a user to work with Google assistant, send emails, skype or video chat with friends, control the lights or play music while getting ready. Or, watch shaving tutorials and more through the 23-inch touchscreen display.

Approx. $1390; embracesmartmirror.com

Ecobee Smart Thermostat With Voice Control

Once connected to an air-conditioner, this thermostat learns and adapts to an occupant’s schedule to deliver comfortable temperatures at all times. Make adjustments via voice control, set timers and schedules and also regulate humidity (if connected to a humidifier).

Approx. $346; ecobee.com

LG’s CX OLED TV

Arguably the smartest TV in market, LG’s CX OLED leads the pack with its webOS technology. The user interface is built around launch bar for apps, inputs and features – which like a computer is customisable. You can Miracast images from your smartphone, screen share and use voice commands through LG’s own AI platform, or trust favourites like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. To help keep the image crisp, Dolby Vision IQ automatically adjusts the picture depending on the ambient light in the room.

$4295; lg.com

Vivint Home Security & Bit Defender Box

Vivint has built a reputation as the go-to for smart home security. With a range of customisable packages, Vivint offers smart sensors (for doors and windows), smart locks (to control remotely), doorbell cameras, outdoor cameras and more all controllable via a single app. You can set the outdoor cameras to record someone’s approach and view them via your smartphone. Physical threats aside, hackers are increasingly breaching smart home technologies. Enter the BitBox Defender, which monitors every device connected to a residence’s network and alerts to any threats by smartphone.

POA; Vivint.com / $149; bitdefender.com

Wi-Charge R1 Wireless Charger

More gadgetry means a greater need to charge. Here, Wi-Charge and its R1 ultra-compact chargers create wireless charging from any power or light socket. With accuracy of 9 metres, it projects infrared beams across the room charging a given device without a second thought.

Coming soon; wi-charge.com

U by Moen Smart Faucet

This, tap, as we would say, offers temperature-controlled water accessible through Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. It remembers favourite temperatures and reacts to conversational requests like ‘a little warmer’. Beyond temperature control, the U by Moen can also disperse water in specific quantities, handy for when cooking and you need exactly 150ml. Offered in a wide variety of styles to cover most kitchen designs.

Approx. $620; moen.com



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Home prices declined at a faster pace in May in major cities, while other data show a mixed picture for the world’s second-largest economy

By REBECCA FENG
Tue, Jun 18, 2024 3 min

China’s broken housing market isn’t responding to some of the country’s boldest stimulus measures to date—at least not yet.

The Chinese government has been stepping up support for housing and other industries in recent months as it tries to revitalize an economy that has  continued to disappoint  since the early days of the pandemic.

But fresh data for May showed that businesses and consumers remain cautious. Home prices continue to fall at an accelerating rate, and fixed-asset investment and industrial production, while growing, lost some momentum.

“China’s May economic data suggest that policymakers have a lot to do to sustain the fragile recovery,” Yao Wei, chief China economist at Société Générale, wrote in a client note on Monday.

The worst pain is in the property sector, which has been struggling to deal with oversupply and weak buyer sentiment since 2021, when a multiyear  housing boom ended . The market still doesn’t appear to have found a floor, even after Beijing rolled out its most aggressive stimulus measures so far  in mid-May  in hopes of restoring confidence.

In major cities, new-home prices fell 4.3% in May compared with a year earlier, worse than a   3.5% decline in April, according to data released Monday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics. Prices in China’s secondhand home market tumbled 7.5%, compared with a 6.8% drop in April.

Home sales by value tumbled 30.5% in the first five months of this year compared with the same months last year.

“This data was certainly on the disappointing side and may ring some alarm bells, as May’s policy support package has not yet translated to a slower decline of housing prices, let alone a stabilisation,” said Lynn Song, chief China economist at ING.

Economists had also been hoping to see a wider recovery this month after Beijing started  rolling out  a planned issuance of 1 trillion yuan, the equivalent of $138 billion, in ultra-long sovereign bonds in May. The funds are designed to help pay for infrastructure and property projects backed by the authorities. Investors  gobbled up  the first batch of these bonds.

Monday’s bundle of economic data, however, underlined how the country still isn’t firing on all cylinders.

Retail sales, a key metric of consumer spending, rose 3.7% in May from a year earlier, compared with 2.3% in April, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. While the trend is heading in the right direction, it is still a relatively subdued level of growth, and below what most economists believe is needed to kick-start a major revival in consumer spending.

The expansion in industrial production—5.6% in May compared with a year earlier—was down from April’s 6.7% increase. Fixed-asset investment growth, of which 40% came from property and infrastructure sectors, also decelerated, to 3.5% year-over-year growth in May from 3.6% in April.

Key to the sluggish economic activity data in May—and China’s outlook going forward—is the crisis in the property market, which has proven hard for policymakers to address.

The property rescue package in May included letting local governments buy up unsold homes, removing minimum interest rates on mortgages, and reducing payments for potential home buyers. It also included as its centerpiece a $41 billion so-called re-lending program launched by the People’s Bank of China, which would provide funding to Chinese banks to support home purchases by state-owned firms.

The hope was that by stepping in as a buyer of last resort for millions of properties, the government would manage to mop up unsold housing inventory and persuade wary home buyers to re-enter the market. In turn, Chinese consumers, who have  most of their wealth  tied up in real estate, would feel more confident about spending again, thereby lifting the overall economy.

But the size of the re-lending program wasn’t big enough to convince home buyers, said Larry Hu , chief China economist at Macquarie Group. “Meanwhile, their income outlook also stays weak given the current economic condition,” he said.

For the property market to bottom out and reach a new equilibrium, mortgage rates, which stand at around 3-4% in China, need to be as low as rental yields, which are currently below 2% in major cities, said Zhaopeng Xing, a senior China strategist at ANZ. He said that a large mortgage rate cut will need to happen eventually.

The other key part of China’s push to revive growth revolves around the manufacturing sector, with leaders  funnelling more investment  into factories to boost output and reduce the country’s reliance on foreign suppliers of key technologies.

The result has been a surge in production. But with domestic consumption not strong enough to absorb all those goods, many factories have been forced to cut prices and seek out more overseas buyers.

Data released earlier this month showed that  Chinese exports rose  faster in May than the month before.

However, the export push is  butting into resistance  as governments around the world worry about the impact of cheap Chinese competition on domestic jobs and industries. The European Union last week said it would  impose new import tariffs  on Chinese electric vehicles, describing China’s auto industry as heavily subsidised by the government, to the point where other countries’ automakers can’t fairly compete.

The U.S.  has also hit  Chinese cars and some other products with hefty duties, while countries including Brazil, India and Turkey have opened antidumping investigations into Chinese steel, chemicals and other goods.

Beijing says such moves are protectionist and that its industries compete fairly with global rivals.