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DoorBot

Know who's knocking on your door — no matter what time of day — from any place on the planet with the DoorBot ($200). Whether you're just venturing into the world of complete home automation, or you already have your place efficiently networked to a range of devices, this is a great piece to add to your setup. It easily connects to your smartphone or tablet over WiFi, letting you communicate with anyone at your door (from inside your home, at the office, or away on vacation). It features night vision, an adjustable camera angle, a rechargeable battery, and the ability to connect to your existing doorbell wiring.

  • iRobot Ava 500

    The way we do business is evolving, letting you work effectively from your bedroom or home office. As a result, notions of business casual have changed, morphing from polos and khakis to tighty whiteys and slippers. The iRobot Ava 500 ($2,500 a month) is part of that change, making it possible to work from anywhere and still be seen in the office — just make sure you're decent from the waist up. A collaboration between iRobot and Cisco, it features a rolling base with a 21-inch HD screen, video camera, and WiFi connectivity (so your colleagues can see you and you can see them). You control it from anywhere using an iPad, enabling you to catch up with coworkers at the water cooler or attend a board meeting, all without leaving your apartment, or putting on pants.

  • Nest Protect

    We've all been there — stabbing violently with a broom stick at the annoying, chirping puck on our ceiling, trying to silence it — but a smoke alarm shouldn't be a nuisance, it should passively keep you safe without worrying about it. The Nest Protect ($130) won't drive you crazy, but it will still keep you safe. It features a glowing status ring (green means everything is okay, yellow gives you a warning about a potential problem, and red means there's an emergency), real voice alerts, and an interactive sensor that responds to the wave of a hand, letting you dismiss alerts if you burn your dinner. Set them up throughout your house and instantly access the status of various rooms from your smartphone or tablet, or use them to automatically light your way at night with the pathlight feature. Best of all, it interacts with other Nest devices, keeping you safer without you thinking about it.