When I first heard about the smart home, I thought it was a gimmick. So what if my toaster can talk to me? I have a wife and children for that.
The more I learned about it, however, the more I came to realize it could make my life better. It wasn’t just marketing: it was something valuable.
Getting to grips with smart home tech, however, isn't always straightforward. Here, I’m going to lay out some tips that I think will help you use this new technology in a way that suits your lifestyle. Read on for more info:
Wake Up to Your Favorite Music
If you’re anything like me, you can sometimes struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Your alarm is more akin to a torture device than a helpful tool. Most weekdays, all you want to do is slap your alarm clock as hard as you can and roll back over.
Smart home automation, however, offers a solution to this thorny problem. Instead of waking up to some pre-programmed beeping that makes you rage like one of Pavlov’s dogs, you can get it to your favorite music instead. All you need to do is tell your home assistant (either Google Home or Alexa) what music you want to play and at what time, and it will unflinchingly oblige. It's a much gentler way of getting up in the morning.
Save Money with a Smart Thermostat
According to a 2016 survey by the 451 Research Group, smart thermostats are the most popular smart home device. There’s a good reason for this: they can save you a lot of money.
Here’s how it works. First, you install your smart thermostat and connect it to your WiFi. Then you download the manufacturer’s app to your phone. Once you’ve got the app, you can control your thermostat wherever you happen to be, switching it off if you know you’re going to be home late.
Use Your Voice to Make Phone Calls
Home assistants have made the world of Star Trek a reality. Today, you can bark commands into the aether hand they will carry out your bidding. But instead of saying “hail the Klingon vessel” as they do on the TV show, you can say something like “call dad” and the device will get on with it. Then all you do is speak from the comfort of your sofa - no need to get up, pick up your handset, or dial any numbers.
Protect Your Privacy
While having electronic assistants in your home that do your bidding is a bonus for most, they can come with privacy concerns. The makers of popular devices rely on collecting data from users to train their algorithms and provide better services. That means listening to what you say.
Before beginning your home assistant journey, be sure to check privacy policies. Find out what data companies are collecting and whether you’re comfortable with that. Also, make sure that you understand how the devices work. If you don’t want them recording what you’re saying, put them in “mute” mode.
Name Your Smart Devices
Most smart homes have multiple “smart” devices in them, besides home assistants. These devices work in synchrony. For instance, you can tell Alexa to switch on Netflix on your TV or order Google Home to connect to your Nest cam.
Some homeowners can get into trouble, however, when they don’t name their devices.
Naming devices is essential. It allows you to track which devices are talking to one another and where they are in your home. If you stick with generic names, you’ll get confused and end up losing track of what you need to connect to what.
Experiment With Different Devices
Not everyone benefits from the same smartphone products. If you live in the desert, a smart thermostat probably isn’t going to save you a bucket of money.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the smart home isn’t for you: au contraire, my friend.
Think about what you’d like your smart home to achieve. Would you like to be able to switch on your security cameras with voice commands? How about getting updates from your fridge on whether you’re running low on milk? It’s all possible with the smart home.
Also, don’t feel that once you’ve bought something, you’re committed to keeping it. If a product isn’t working for you, just return it - no harm done.
Setup a Wireless Security Camera
Security cameras are one of the best ways to deter burglars and keep your property safe. And with advances in the smart home, keeping a watchful eye on all your entry points is easier than ever. All you need to do is stick a few cameras on your interior and exterior walls, link them to your WiFi, and you’re done. The cameras connect to an app on your phone that lets you see live feeds, automatically alerting you if there is movement.
Save Money with Smart Home Lighting
Smart lighting is a massive money-saver. Not only do smart lights use low-energy LED tech, but you can also switch them on and off from your device remotely. Some models will also automatically turn off when you leave the room.
Be Notified When Your Kids Get Home
If you’re anything like me, you worry about your children all the time, especially if they make their own way back from school. Smart home tech, however, can notify you when your kids get home.
Smart doorbells, for instance, can send video feeds directly to your phone automatically as soon as your kids approach your front door. You can also use live feeds from interior cameras if you use a home security system.
When I first heard about the smart home, I was skeptical. Could it really add value to my life, I wondered?
It was only really when I tried it for myself that I saw that it could. While there are obviously things that are gimmicky, most smart home technology that I use is just plain helpful - the way it should be.
It’s a Jetsons world, after all.