New home appliances controlled by apps, sensors and the sun

New home appliances controlled by apps, sensors and the sun
Petcube was funded on Kickstarter and became one of the most successful crowd-funding pet products in history. The mobile app works for iOS and Android devices, the camera is $199. (Petcube)

From compact appliances to touchless toilets, today's home devices are designed for streamlined operations. And with homeowners spending more time than ever on their smartphones, designers are responding with apps that allow you to control such devices as lighting and your washing machine with a swipe of a finger. Here, we offer a selection of new designs for 2015 that promise to make home life a little easier.

Wi-Fi connected appliances


Want to preheat your oven before you arrive home? Now you can turn it on remotely using a smartphone app designed by GE for its Profile collection. The Wi-Fi-enabled appliances, which will arrive throughout 2015, include ranges, wall ovens, a French door refrigerator, laundry duo, a Geo Spring water heater and dishwasher. The apps are included in the price of GE Profile appliances, one of GE's higher-end brands.

Wireless charging surface

No more searching for cable or wall outlets to charge your fading cellphone. The TechTop wireless charging surface by LG Hausys — which won best of show at the 2015 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas earlier this month — allows you to charge your mobile device by simply placing it on top of a surface, such as a countertop, embedded with wireless charging technology. Currently, it is available only for phones, with laptops and tablets to come. Pricing depends on local fabricators listed on the TechTop website.

Touchless flush toilet

Toilets aren't just toilets anymore. They now come with accessories such as LED illuminated night lights, bidet functionality, self-deodorizing capabilities and heated seating. In some cases you don't even have to flush the toilet using a handle. Kohler's new San Souci touchless flush toilet is the perfect appliance for the germ-phobic. Simply wave your hand over a sensor mounted inside the tank and it will trigger a flush powered by four AA batteries. Available in 10 colors. The toilet starts at $820 in white.

Garden sensor and water valve

The solar-powered Edyn smart gardening system allows gardeners to assess soil nutrition, moisture, light and temperature via smartphone alerts. Expect a ping from Edyn if your tomatoes need water or fertilizer. The concept: Using Wi-Fi, Edyn's garden sensor measures environmental factors courtesy of a long metal probe that is planted in the ground. The system sends the data to your phone, where you can monitor your plants and activate water valves. The system is composed of the Edyn Garden Sensor, Edyn Water Valve and Edyn App. One sensor is good for 250 square feet. More may be necessary for bigger plots. Available for pre-order on Edyn's website and available at Home Depot stores in spring 2015. Garden sensor, $99.95. Edyn Water Valve, $59.99.

Desks with integrated power outlets

Two new desks from Room & Board feature four three-prong power outlets and four USB ports that are hidden on the underside of the desk. The design provides 10 amps of power for office electronics and keeps cords within easy reach. An 8-foot detachable cord connects to the back right leg of the table. The desk features a modern stainless-steel base and a variety of tabletop options. Starting at $839 for one with a glass tabletop. A Parsons desk, also available with power outlet and USB ports, starts at $659.

Interactive pet camera

Guilt-ridden pet owners can check on their furry friends with the new Petcube Camera that allows you to watch, talk and play with your pets from a smartphone. The Petcube Camera features a wide-angle camera along with real-time HD video, which allows you to view your pet clearly. You can also talk to your pet via a built-in microphone and speaker. Additionally, you can play with your pet from your smartphone using a laser pointer. The camera offers a free mobile app for iOS and Android devices as well as a Petcube Camera — an interactive pet monitor. You can also share access to your pet video-cam with your friends and family or anyone on the Petcube network. $199. The app requires iOS 7.0 or greater and Android 4.0 or greater.

Small space tub

The new Halo soaking tub from MTI Baths incorporates last year's popular free-standing tub trend with another hot topic: small-space living. The simple circular design measures 52 by 52 by 26 inches and consumes little floor space in a tight bathroom. The Halo also features a built-in seat and can be enjoyed as a soaker tub or as an air bath with 20 air jets, a heated blower and a waterproof remote control. Made of Engineered Solid Stone, it comes in classic white or biscuit with an optional gloss finish. $6,655.

Ozone faucets


Lenova's new Ozone collection faucets feature a water-air-patented technology that infuses the powerful oxidant ozone directly into the water through a chamber inside the spout. Due to its disinfectant and oxidation capabilities, the process creates ozonized water that is safe to drink. Available in April, starting at $995.