2024-07-21 7:04 PM

Todays Smart Home Technology Makes Living More Convenient

“Alexa, turn on the lights.”

“Ok Google, brew my coffee.”

“Hey Siri, wake me up at 7.” 

Gone are the days of VCRs, DVD players, landlines, dialup internet and the 60 MHz Pentium processor. Today Advanced “Smart Home” technology is embedded in devices from coffee makers to thermostats and has made commanding virtual assistants to perform tasks an inherent part of everyday modern life.

Implementing smart technology starts with a fast internet connection and reliable signal throughout your home.  Smart devices must connect to others, either through bluetooth to a nearby device (like a portable speaker), or, for the most advanced smart technology, via Wifi, communicating with other network devices with ease and often allowing user control from anywhere in the world.  Homes with thick walls or low signal in areas may benefit from mesh technology, which expands the signal through small, strategically placed plug-in repeaters.  Next, decide on your speaker “assistant” — will you be an “Alexa” home?  The assistant devices tend to be the central hub for smart home components and automations in most cases.

Smart home technology makes living more convenient, efficient, and secure.  Increasingly, smart devices learn from and adapt to user behavior, adjusting settings according to perceived needs and preferences.  A smart thermostat may realize you always turn down the temperature before bed and start scheduling the change automatically — or switch to efficient climate settings when you are away to save energy and money.

Smart home devices include thermostats, speakers, locks, light bulbs, plugs and outlets, security cameras, vacuums, and even lawnmowers. Devices are controlled through mobile apps and/or via home assistants embedded into phones or voice-activated devices, like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby, or Google Assistant.

The News-Press went to social media to find some popular answers and see what exactly people had on their minds when we asked our readers “what’s your ‘go- to’ on home technology?”

Responses fell largely into three categories, with security being by far the most essential to participants.   Many mentioned using Ring doorbells, which allow homeowners the ability to monitor, record, and track activity on their porch — and famously warn potential burglars of their misfortune.  Wyze Cam was also mentioned, and many other brands and devices are available, though these two were popular among our readers.

 The next most common category of smart technology implementation is convenience — devices that take care of chores or tasks we don’t want to do. 

This includes devices like Roomba, one of many robotic vacuum cleaners on the market, and among the most popular commercially-available consumer robots in existence.  Roomba and other robot vacuums use a combination of sensors a​​nd algorithms to navigate and clean floors, with some even emptying into a larger receptacle when full, then returning to where they left off to finish the job.  The ability to automatically vacuum floors has been made more popular as increased competition drives prices down.

Other convenience-focused smart devices include thermostats (a survey favorite was the Nest brand), many of which learn your heating and cooling preferences, automatically adjust to your schedule, and save energy by optimizing your home’s temperature. 

Increasingly affordable and, as a result, increasingly common are smart light bulbs, with Philips Hue well-established as the most connected, highest quality, and by far most expensive — though expanding options have finally started moving even Hue bulb prices down, and integrated controlling “hubs” in assistant devices like the Amazon Echo allowing users to mix-and-match without losing features.

The third category for smart technology centered around entertainment.  Many smart speaker assistants have made their way into third-party devices, such as TVs with built-in Alexa that allow users to control music, set alarms, and even shop online.  They can be connected to other smart devices such as lights, thermostats, and security systems allowing for hands-free control of various functions. Popular smart speakers include Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The world of smart home technology is just beginning.  As the adoption of this technology in your home continues to grow, one thing homeowners must consider from the beginning are security risks and privacy concerns associated with internet-connected devices in their home.  Homeowners should take steps to secure their smart devices, access to home internet, and personal information.

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