Who would have thought twenty years ago that our homes would be intelligent and capable of communicating with us? Maybe the Jetsons knew, but I think the rest of us were just happy being warm and cozy in our homes. Today, however, technology is changing things; we can now add devices to make our lives more comfortable, more secure, and maybe, more fun and interesting.
Bring a home assistant device like Google Home or Amazon Echo into your house and things begin to come alive. Have a question? Simply ask and your home assistant will answer you. Want to know the forecast? Just ask! Want to play your favorite music? Again, just ask! You can set alarms to wake you up, learn what upcoming appointments you have, check weather forecasts and get a traffic report for your drive to work.
And although those capabilities by themselves seem to be many, there are many more options available. You can unleash even greater voice activation capabilities by installing other smart devices in your home. Using a home assistant, you can have voice control over other smart devices such as lights, electrical outlets, door locks and your television.
Companies like Netgear, Linksys, Samsung, Nest, Wink (and many others) make a host of products that can “smarten” your home and automate household devices and functions.
Smart Technology without Home Assistants
It should be noted that smart devices do not require a home assistant like Google Home or Amazon Echo to operate; they generally have a smartphone app to control the device. Some smart devices can operate with just the smartphone app, while others need their own controller. One big advantage for using a smartphone app versus a home assistant is that you can operate a smart device in your home remotely. For example, if you have company coming over to your house and you are stuck in traffic while your guests are arriving, you could unlock the front door to let them in when they arrive.
Smart devices can provide a plethora of functions such as on/off, lock/unlock capability, controlling things like thermostats, monitoring for water leakage or notifying you if a door or window has been opened. Many of these smart devices can perform scheduling as well, so you can have your coffee pot turn on automatically at the time you set in advance.
While these capabilities sound intriguing, there are a few things to know before you make a purchase. Not all devices play well together and sometimes not at all. It will be important to do your homework to find out which products have the best apps to use, which ones connect to other smart devices that you may have or are planning to get. You will need to consider if you want to have a home assistant in the mix so you can turn up the thermostat or change the room lighting just by speaking a command. Lastly, you should do your own cost-benefit analysis to decide how much you are willing to spend on these smart devices in order to automate your home. Smart electrical outlets start around $30.00 and prices go up from there. A single smart light bulb and the controller might set you back $100.00, but like all technology, these costs continue to come down as the demand for grows.
In summary, there are many exciting smart devices for your home. Some are fun, but many can make life easier so you can concentrate of the other aspects of your life. The products are not necessarily inexpensive, but once purchased, the hope is that they should last awhile. Since most allow you to plug in conventional non-smart devices, like lamps, coffee pots and more, you can save some money by not having to buy smart appliances too.
Pioneer does not endorse any of the manufacturers mentioned in this article. We encourage you to do your own diligence and determine if this technology is right for you.