Bees, baby cows & Bosch: trying out smart home tech at the Bath & West Show

And freshly-baked biscuits, mmm

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Royal Bath and West Show in the beautiful British countryside. It’s a family show with cow beauty pageants, bird of prey displays, all kinds of adorable baby animals and oodles of stalls selling everything from tweed jackets for your dog to personal umbrella cubicles for the English summer (that match your outfit!):

But aside from stroking baby goats and talking to beekeepers, the reason I was at the show was to see and try the extensive smart home range on the Bosch stand.

If you’re thinking “wait, Bosch makes smart home stuff?” you’re not alone. They’re best known for quality power tools, but it turns out Bosch actually makes everything from smart plugs and switches to WiFi thermostats. They’re just quite modest as a company (that’ll be the family-owned German thing), so you might not have heard about some of the cooler things they’ve been creating. And that’s what I’m here for!

Cookies, cameras and coffee

The product I was most excited to see was the 360° Indoor Camera (£219, Amazon). As someone with both a pet obsession and quite a bit of anxiety, I love being able to check in on my animals when I’m out of the house.

The camera integrates with all the other Bosch smart home stuff, but it doesn’t require any kind of hub: you can use it on its own.

When you turn it on, the camera pops out of the top, where it’s able to do a full rotation owl-style to see your entire room. You can turn it around from the app if you want to see what’s going on on the other side of the room, and it also has motion detection so it can rotate automatically if it’s missing the action.

I’ve got one of these at home to try out, so look out for my review coming soon.

You can actually see me on the camera feed on the tablet, taking the photo!

One of the upsides of hanging out with Bosch at a show is that they have working ovens and drinks gadgets on-site, so I got a hot cup of joe from one of their fancy touchscreen coffee machines, and freshly-baked bread and biscuits from their steam-infusing ovens. I know next to nothing about cooking, but the springy, moist bread that came out of this oven smelt iiiiincredible.

Seriously, if you see them at a show, go and say hi and they’ll probably feed you.

Mmmmmm fresh bread

Robot lawnmowers and drill-powered vacuums

One of the things I like about Bosch is that unlike a lot of large companies, they manage to make co-operation between the departments work. That means something invented in the car arm might also find a use in the kitchen section, for instance.

One example of this at work is the very cool Unlimited stick vacuum cleaner, which has a little portable battery pack — the same ones Bosch use on their drills. So you can swap the battery packs in and out, and if you’re caught short, nick a bit of power from your hoover to finish the drilling.

Similarly, their expertise with garden tools and tech has led to the adorable Indego robot lawnmower, which will cheerfully mow your lawn, then put itself away in a little shed.

You can also customise it, which is a nice touch — you’d better believe I’d put a little waistcoat on mine and call it Jeeves.

Bish, bash, Bosch

There are learnings from other parts of the business in the smart home products, too. You might not know (I didn’t) that the massive boiler brand Worcester is part of Bosch, and they’ve used that experience to make a smart WiFi thermostat called EasyControl. The thing I really liked about this is that it can show your usage not just in energy, but in pounds — you can even put in the price you pay for energy, so it’s not just an estimate. That’s how to get people to actually reduce their wastage, I reckon.

The thermostat (on the left) is nicer-looking than most, and comes in a choice of black or white

And then there are all the gadgets you can connect to the Bosch smart home controller (hub). There’s a smoke alarm that also acts as a burglar alarm and lights up to help you get out through the smoke. There are door and window sensors, motion sensors, smart plugs, and both indoor and outdoor cameras. There’s even a four-way smart switch you can program to do different things depending on how you press it — eg. my suggestion was to press right for ‘Romance Mode’, where the lights go down and the music comes on. Smooth.

The range is pretty impressive in its own right, but what I really liked about the Bosch approach to smart home products is that they don’t send your data out into the cloud. It’s all stored locally for security reasons, and they won’t work with companies that don’t have data security as stringent as theirs. That does mean their products aren’t compatible with as many smart home systems as some (though they do work with Philips Hue, Alexa and others) but you have to make some sacrifices for good security.

And that brings us back to the 360-degree indoor security camera. I’ve got it set up in my lounge, and I’ll be reporting back soon to let you know how I (and the cats) got on.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some freshly-baked biscuits to eat.

This post was sponsored by Bosch, but written entirely by me with no oversight, and represents my real opinions. I can’t be bought, yo.

About Holly Brockwell 291 Articles
Tech addict Holly founded Gadgette in 2015, and won Woman of the Year for it. She's firmly #TeamAndroid, has ambitions to become a robot, and beat all other Hollies to her awesome Twitter handle.