So you’ve decided to go all-in with a new custom smart home, and you want to automate it like the alternate reality of your favorite science-fiction novel. Just think — inanimate objects will spring into action at the sound of your voice while a robot pours your morning coffee.
We wish, but it’s not quite yet so. Until science fiction truly becomes reality, you’ll have to continue to clean out your closets yourself. But here’s the takeaway: today’s home automation is muchfurther along than you might realize.
Depending how smart you’d like your new custom home to be, you can cue household appliances with a smart-phone app, or ask a virtual assistant to check your calendar for the next five days.
So much IS possible, that sometimes science fiction can feel like fact, even now. How about a “smart” thermostat that senses how many people are in the house and automatically adjusts the temperature? It’s not only possible — you can buy one today if you’d like.
Come with us as we explain some gee-whiz things you can do in today’s smart homes, plus some simple things that won’t strain your non-techie brain.
Just turn off the lights
If you’re new to the smart-home scene, be prepared for overwhelm. Companies constantly churn out new generations of “smart” consumer products, and electronics and software companies are doing the same for the apps you download to run your smart-home systems, and for the built-in networks that support them.
“Ugh,” you say. “That’s too much techno.”
It does help to do some smart home 101 research online, or by talking with folks who are smart-home fluent. The term “home automation” is only another phrase for “smart home.” And by having one, all you’re doing is streamlining human actions and product functions in everyday life.
But don’t let information overload discourage you from trying useful products that might be a good fit in your new custom smart home.
Try using smart light bulbs whose intensity and color you can control with an app on your smart phone or computer tablet. If you know you want a security system, make it a smart one. Choose a system with cameras, motion sensors and exterior lighting that you can monitor and control remotely.
Or, go all out
If too much techno is never enough, we’ve got video doorbells! How about an outdoor grill whose temperature and settings you program? There are so many possibilities.
Are you past the point of accumulating stuff and need to organize it? Devices known as hubs, that centralize most smart-home functions, might be your best next step. Two that you operate by voice control, Amazon Echo and Google Home, are the best known.
Do a deep dive online and you’ll find even more products. But don’t forget to look for those that can queue up your favorite party playlist or summon a must-watch TV show. There’s even a “smart” kitchen measuring device that will help you nail the exact amount of flour every time you bake cookies.
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