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We’ve come a long way from the bulky, steam-spewing technologies of yesteryear. Today’s gadgets are sleek, sexy testaments of where we’ve come from and where gadget design for the home is headed. Some operate invisibly, working from behind the scenes to make your life easier, while others catch the eye like a camera flash. What better place to enjoy the ease and aesthetic of the digital age than in the comforts of your own home? With that, here are nine elegant and enjoyable home gadgets to inspire or buy for the tech-eclectic designer.

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1. Nest Learning Thermostat

image: nest

A thermostat that learns your preferences and adjusts itself accordingly, Nest is the unequivocal must-have for anyone who hates having to constantly “tweak” the temperature in their home. It also showcases a lovely minimalist design that keeps your guests intrigued. It has no buttons or dials, just a sleek smooth surface and a simple digital display, from ‘Father of the iPod’ designer Tony Fadell.

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2. Skylink automatic door opener

image: Skylink

It’s not the coolest chunk of plastic you could attach to your door, but if you’ve ever had to juggle your keys, groceries and three-legged dog just to get into your own house, then you’ll see the need for an automatic door opener. The SkyLink device is smaller than your typical door opener, controlled with a small key-chain remote and sits high above eye level. Paint to match the color of your door or put arrows pointing to it with large text that says, “Check out this automatic door opener”.

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3.Vivint’s Touchscreen Panel

image: Vivint

A mobile-ready, touchscreen panel–This is an especially cool feature for those of you who like to stay informed and up to date with weather forecasts or keep an eye on every aspect of your home. The Vivint touchscreen is made to take on all aspects of home automation. Plus, it looks incredible. A full-color LED display, wireless components and remote capabilities via your mobile device put you smack dab in the midst of a 21st century home.

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4. Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light

image: Philips

It’s hard to have a good day when you begin it with being blasted out of bed by an electronic siren. This natural-light alarm clock by Philips simulates the gradual rising of the sun, so you can trick your body into thinking that a new day has already begun, even when you have to get up at 4:30 am and it’s still dark outside. And when it’s not gently interrupting your dreams, it’s looking classy on your nightstand; that clean, white exterior and simple LED clock display won’t offend many eyes.

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5. Electrolux Fireplace

image: Camillo Vanacore

Who doesn’t enjoy a cozy fireplace? There’s just something about the flames flickering about that is absolutely magical. The Electrolux portable fireplace concept designed by Camillo Vanacore takes the magic one step further and oh, how we wish this one were real. When it’s not in use, it looks like a simple, opaque ceramic column. But when you turn it on, the heat turns the cover transparent, allowing you to watch the hypnotic rhythm of the fire inside. How the flame lasts without air and doesn’t blacken the interior… well, we’re sure those details will all be sorted if this product ever hits the stores.

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6. SmartHydro

image: iHouse

For the ultimate in bathing, the Smarthydro from iHouse doesn’t leave you wanting. Made for two people to enjoy, this bath is fully automated, preparing the bath according to your preference. It’s a bot more than a bath though. With seven hydromassage jets located at the spine and feet locations, it’s relaxation in a glass/aluminum design that had won awards, including the esteemed reddot design award.

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7. HiSense Transparent 3D TV

image: Hisense

A transparent TV. Why? Because it looks cool. When it’s off, it’s basically a 40″ transparent OLED window.  When it’s turned on, it becomes a high def, 3D television that can incorporate any object behind it. Hisense sees this as window shopping of the future, but from a design perspective, we love the potentially spectacular future TV-window or item display. A prototype that’s expected to hit the market this year for $3000.

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8. Lowe’s Iris

image: Lowe’s

If you want to smarten up your home, you can do it a couple of different ways. You can pay someone to come in and rewire the whole place and install all your new gadgets for you, or you can do the whole thing yourself. Vivant’s touch panel is one way. The Lowe’s Iris system is a whole system. More specifically, it’s a cloud-based, home management system tied to your mobile/network that still looks good. There are a range of kits and components all built around doing it yourself.

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9. Miranda by Giles Miller

image: Giles Miller

Not every designer home gadget needs to be electronic. Miranda is a wall covering that consists of thousands of tiny plastic “hairs” on your wall. These can be brushed in different directions, resulting in amazing, artistic and thoroughly entertaining designs. Unfortunately, Miranda was only produced as a piece of one-off installation art, and there are no current plans for marketing it to customers. But hey, how hard could it be to make one yourself?

Filed under: DESIGN