The technology powering smart homes is no longer a fantasy only portrayed in the movies. It is quickly becoming the norm.
By 2020, North Americans are likely to use over 165 million “smart” products in their homes. This includes lights, locks, blinds, appliances, security cameras, and many more internet-connect devices.
Adding the Internet of Things (IoT) to your house might seem complicated but the steps are simple. If you approach each piece of technology one by one, and at a pace, you can afford, your home will be a smart home before you know it.
Here are some of the first IoT home devices to consider integrating into your new or existing home.
Smart Homes: Voice Control
Creating a voice-controlled “command center” for your smart home can be done with software (UIB’s UnificationEngine®-powered SmartContact®), hardware (smart speakers), or both. To learn about the differences, read UIB CMO Ken Herron’s 2018 Voice Buyer’s Guide. SmartContacts and smart speakers both connect to the IoT devices and connected apps in your home, including locks, TVs, music apps, thermostats, and more.
If you decide to use a smart speaker, research it carefully to determine whether it will integrate with your preferred products and ecosystem.
Amazon’s Echo (with Alexa) was the first of the home virtual assistants and still has a large majority of the market. Alexa can connect with different music systems, like Spotify, Amazon music, and Sirius XM. And there are a variety of different Echo products to choose from for each room of your house.
For die-hard Apple fans, the HomePod is a high-quality speaker and currently only integrates with Apple systems, such as Siri and Apple Music.
Google also features a variety of voice-controlled command centers, such as the Home Hub. This device can connect with thousands of home IoT devices from a single dashboard.
Other smart speaker manufacturers include Alibaba, Bosch, JD, LG, and Samsung, with new models being introduced every week.
These virtual assistants will connect with the other IoT devices in your home to make everything run at the sound of your voice — when you’re within voice range of one of the devices.
Smart Homes: Thermostats
The temperature of your home is one of the most important factors for your comfort. Smart thermostats can be connected to the SmartContact in your smartphone and your smart speaker. At the sound of your voice or a quick instant message on your favorite chat or messaging channel when you are on your way home, you can set your home to your ideal temperature. Some even use sensors and/or connect to your smartphone to know when you are home or away to determine the ideal settings to put in place, without you having to do anything.
For sensitive sleepers, there are now smart bedding options with smart thermostats heating or cooling your blankets.
Smart Homes: Lights
Lighting sets the mood in a home. Smart lights allow you to choose different dimming, color, and energy efficiency settings. Again with a voice command or text message, you can control the lights without dealing with switches. If you want to change lights around while you are on vacation to make it appear that someone is home, this is also a possibility. With some smart lights connected to your smartphone, your lights will turn on as soon as you (your phone!) enters your driveway. After a long day at work, smart lighting options make your home feel more welcoming.
Smart Homes: Security
Sensors, cameras, and locks make your home safer than ever. They can detect smoke and gases and alert you on your phone if there’s trouble. Smart cameras and doorbells can allow you to see anybody approaching your house whether you are at home or at work. Connected locks can lock any time you leave the home and be opened anywhere from your smartphone. These devices can be particularly important for those with elderly parents who want to remain independent.
Automating your home can make your life more comfortable, efficient, and safe. Your first steps are choosing how you want to voice-control your devices and what types of technology will best meet you and your family’s needs.
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About the Author
Brianna Barcena is a Content Specialist at TrustRadius. When she’s not in the office, she enjoys reading, watching a good historical drama, doing yoga, and going on adventures with her dog, Deeks.