The touchless tech that will transform your daily routines - how to control your home, hands-free

From voice assistants to motion sensors, hands-free control is fast becoming the norm in a smart home

dog asleep in a living room in front of a coffee table and colourful sofa with a TV on a unit behind
(Image credit: Future/Dominic Blackmore)

Fundamentally, when we mention 'hands-free' or 'touchless tech', this refers to the ability to control an appliance or device without actually swiping a surface or touching buttons. 

While it’s fair to assume that the rise in this hands-free way of living might be a hangover from the pandemic and one of the latest smart home trends, this functionality has been growing and developing for many years. 

From voice assistants to sensors, and even devices that can be programmed to work autonomously, there are so many areas in the home now where you don’t have to lift a finger.

Simple orders

Amazon Alexa Eco Show smart speaker hub with screen on a kitchen countertop

(Image credit: Amazon)

If you're keen to make your home a 'smarter' one, you'll know it's possible to make your life easier with voice assistants. But if you’re just using your smart speaker to set timers, check the weather, or ask trivia questions, then there’s a whole raft of functionality that you have yet to tap into. 

Doing so will involve investing in different smart home products, but the possibilities of what you can do via voice command can really expand, from controlling your lighting, smart home security system, central heating, music, vacuum cleaner, coffee machine, TV, and much more.

Smart sensors

While sensor-activated appliances are clearly beneficial for those with mobility problems, there are many reasons why this clever functionality would benefit all homes.

Public bathrooms are already full of motion sensors on flushes, taps, and hand dryers which help with hygiene and save water and energy. But for convenience, this simple tech is also available in plenty of areas in the home.

a large bathroom with a wide basin unit, wide mirror and two wall hung lights

(Image credit: Philips Hue)

For starters, you can open the fridge door of LG’s Signature Door-in-Door fridge freezer by waving your foot in front of a sensor at the base, perfect if your hands are full.

The same goes for any number of rubbish bins, from brands like Eko and Simplehuman, with lids that open when you swipe your hand above the sensor (the latter also opening via voice control). 

Philips Hue’s Motion Sensor will trigger smart lighting to turn on automatically, ideal for nighttime trips to the loo or outdoors for added security. And just like public loos, you too can have bathroom or kitchen taps and soap dispensers with sensor activation.

Automated controls

Shark Matrix Robot vacuum

(Image credit: Shark)

The concept of an automated home feels strangely futuristic, but the reality is that much of this functionality is now commonplace in many homes across the UK. 

Smart lighting and smart heating thermostats can be programmed to turn on and off automatically, at different brightness and temperatures at various times of the day. Robot vacuums can be programmed to give your flooring a once over at a time of day when the house is empty so it can zoom around without distraction. 

You can program your smart home ecosystem to use the GPS on your phone so various devices, like lighting and heating, switch on when it detects that you’re close to home, and off again when you leave.

Outdoors, smart watering sprinklers and robot lawnmowers can work to set routines for watering at dusk or cutting the grass in the afternoon.

Ginevra Benedetti
Deputy Editor (Print)

Ginevra Benedetti has been the Deputy Editor of Ideal Home magazine since 2021. With a career in magazines spanning nearly twenty years, she has worked for the majority of the UK’s interiors magazines, both as staff and as a freelancer. She first joined the Ideal Home team in 2011, initially as the Deputy Decorating Editor and has never left! She currently oversees the publication of the brand’s magazine each month, from planning through to publication, editing, writing or commissioning the majority of the content.