When you see advertisements for home smart devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, you might wonder if they aren’t just a fad for techno-geeks. They look sleek, but do they have any practical home use beyond than playing your music or answering silly queries? Others may well worry that they will need a technician or one of the kids learn how to use it – or even that the device will misinterpret or capture sensitive personal information.
While certain concerns regarding “smart” home tech are prudent to consider (in the way one shouldn’t over-share online) much of today’s latest home technology is merely a foretaste of the tech that’s to come. Linking together your thermostat, your refrigerator, and your home security system may still sound like a science fiction movie that doesn’t end well, but it really can save you money while also making many aspects of family life more convenient. The best part is, most if it is controlled from your phone or tablet device, so you already carry this remote control wherever you go.
By having complete control of your thermostat from your phone, you can make sure the air conditioning is not at full blast while no one is home. You can also have these systems linked to your home lighting. This will make certain that unnecessary lights are not left on. You can also use this as a safety precaution and turn them on to avoid a break-in, amplifying the security of your home when on business trips or family vacations.
Of course, managing home security is a key part of what these systems can handle. This includes “smart” door locks, doorbell cameras, video in almost an endless number of rooms and angles, and motion detection (which can be programmed to ignore pets, or night-time family sleepwalkers).
There is also a lot of fun to be had with these systems. Home speakers like Amazon’s Echo and the Google Home can genuinely make controlling everything simple. The vocal control really does respond well in most devices. You can adjust the lighting in a room and have music kick on at the same time. You’d be surprised how much that can ease your tension after a long day at work, not to mention when your hands are busy with the kids.
With children in the home, there can really be no better application for this technology. The home security and camera monitoring have obvious benefits, but so do the entertainment and quality of life part of smart home-living. There are also the advantages of your kids having access to technology – Millennials and younger children are today’s digital natives, generations of people who find tech systems to be as natural as the organic garden outside. Besides, we all know the kids will probably understand how to operate the system before anyone else in the house.
But another new adaptation of this technology is for the old-fashioned home gardener. Remote control watering systems can make sure your flowers last through that summer trip until you get home. You can also save money and conserve water by making sure your home sprinkler system does not activate when there is rainfall while you are out of town.
If you are starting fresh with a new home, adding smart technology in the building phase is a more simple decision – collaborate with your builder to discuss your needs and goals and where connected technology might fit. If you are thinking about remodeling or upgrading, the same really holds true as well. Talking directly to local businesses that provide these services, or even just doing a little exploring on the internet can answer a lot of important questions right off the bat.
Maricel Tabalba is a writer currently living in Chicago. Maricel specializes in covering technology, personal finance, and ecology topics. In her free time, you can find her exploring small neighborhood shops, watching horror movies and going for bike rides.