Get Smart, Get Ahead! Smart Homes!

Smartphone controlled house

The advent of smartphones is way past us and the smartness is slowly seeping into all aspects of our life. The device became indispensable in today’s world and is becoming more and more dominant in how we do everything from staying touch to reading news and shopping. It was only a matter of time until we got so far you can control your home with a swipe of the finger. Smart homes are here, and while robot butlers are still far off, this will do.


The Advantages of a Smart Home

  • Energy Efficiency – With a cleverly networked home you’ll use the exact amount of electricity you need. The smart thermostat will monitor the temperature in your home, lights will be on just when you need them, with the right intensity. No more forgetting to turn off the bathroom light.
  • Security – Smart security kits allow you to monitor your property no matter where you are, right from your phone. Some can even alert the police in case there’s a break in. There are also options that make conventional lock obsolete. These instead can unlock your home with a fingerprint or a code entered from your phone.
  • Savings – While turning your home smart can seem quite the investment initially, with time a smart home can save you money. Especially from utility bills. 
  • Convenience – What if you had a remote for everything around your house? What if you could never lose track of that remote? From comfort to entertainment, everything is at the tip of your fingers. What’s not to like?

First Things First

You will need a digital assistant that will tie all smart ends of your house. Digital assistants are quickly gaining popularity, and while not as cool as a robot butler, they are the closest you can get for now. Sure, they don’t walk around or speak in a posh British accent(yet), but they will hear you shouting at them from the next room over and in 95% of the cases won’t light the cat on fire instead of turning up the thermostat.

The three biggest names currently are:


Alexa

If you want a quick and easy start Amazon’s Echo products are the best choice for you. They have quite the head start regarding third party support, since they were the first on the market. The Echo products are easy to setup and the smaller brother of Alexa, the Echo Dot is one of the less costly home controllers out there.

On the other side of things, the Alexa app for both iOS and Android can be a bit  unwieldy. Alexa is also not the brightest, as sometimes she can have trouble understanding what you need from her. Use shorter sentences. Additionally this assistant is only accessible through the speaker itself and can’t be triggered through your smartphone.


Siri

Apple had privacy in mind when designing their HomeKit, and because of that the data transferred between your devices and smart home accessories will be secure. It’s also easier to integrate Siri with HomeKit products, thanks to Apple’s 3rd party policies.

This of course means there are much fewer options on the market for products with Siri support, due to the exclusivity. Also, just like Alexa, Siri is often stumped by your requests. But that’s nothing new.


Google’s Assistant

The first advantage with this assistant is that you don’t have to buy one if you already have a smartphone running the latest Android. If you however choose to buy the Google Home anyway, it’s actually cheaper than the standard Echo speaker. The real standout of the Google option however is the advanced AI. You’ll have the least amount of communication troubles with it.

However to wake it up you must say “Hey, Google” which honestly makes us feel kinda stupid. Also Google’s Assistant isn’t as widely supported as Alexa aand there’s always the slight paranoia that comes with their vague privacy policy that simply states that they are collecting data to improve their services. What data though, Google?


Smart Stuff

There are all kinds of smart gadgets emerging on the market. For now your oven won’t go down to the shops for ingredients and make you a pizza if you simply tell it to. But there are some nifty ways to smarten up your household. Here’s what the technology can be most efficiently used for now.


Lights

The lighting in your house is the easiest way to start transforming your home. You can either have them controlled directly from your phone or set a timer. No matter what you choose smart lights will save from your energy bill and can be used to enhance the security of your home. For example if you set them to come on and off as they usually would when you are on vacation to deter any would be burglars.

One such option is the Philips Hue. It uses light bulbs that go in your regular sockets and a connector that you simply plug into the wall socket and connect to the WiFi. After that you control the lighting in every room in your house with options to even change the colour of the light to suit any particular mood. Awesome!


Heating

Smart thermostats are probably going to be in every home in a few years. And convenience is just one part of the reason. They make heating and cooling your house much more efficient and less energy consuming. They can turn the climate in your house to your exact preferences and regulate themselves based on your habits. They can be taught or even sense (depending on the model) when you are not home, and adjust temperature accordingly, so you don’t waste money on electricity bills.


Security

Fancy security like you see on mansions in 90s movies is now affordable to the average household. There are lots of options for home security depending on your needs. The system could alert you when someone is looking for you at your home and send a live video feed directly to your phone. Automated locking and proximity alarms are also viable options.


Sockets

Smart sockets allow you turn almost any non-smart gadget into your home to a more intellectually sophisticated one. For example if you have a water heating kettle you can plug it into the smart socket and set the latter to turn it on just before you get out of bed so you have hot water ready for your tea. Additionally these can keep track of your energy consumption and send  reports directly to your device.


The future may not be now yet, but you can say it’s just around the corner. You can always get ahead of the curve and start to slowly transfer your house to a home of the future. And save money from it in the long term!

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