Hey Siri! How can I make my home smarter?
Today, our houses are filled with smart devices and digital assistants. You can ask Alexa, Siri, or Google to do almost anything, from finding your favorite playlist and adjusting the volume of your speakers to giving you news updates and weather reports, setting timers and reminders, and controlling your security systems and smart appliances. You can even ask for Dad jokes!
If you are planning to expand the tech ecosystem in your home, start by asking yourself some key questions.
- How do you currently use smart systems and appliances? For example, security and monitoring, lighting, heating and cooling, kitchen appliances.
- What types of automated systems and appliances do you want to add in the next year or two?
- How interconnected do you want your devices to be?
- How long do you plan to stay in your home?
- Would family members with health challenges benefit from smart devices?
For example, in the short term, you might want to install a more robust security system, expand into automated lighting and sound systems, or add monitors for energy and water usage. In the future, you might want to add medical technology for a family member (or yourself) that tracks medication use, monitors vital signs, and senses activity and movement.
A common roadblock to adding multiple smart devices is the time and effort it takes to set them up and persuade them to communicate with each other. This is where hubs come in. If you’re an Apple user, you likely will gravitate toward HomeKit, which will configure your smart-home devices to work together and allow you to control them through apple devices and Siri.
If you’re more technically savvy and want to connect a wider range of third-party devices, you may want to use a system like Samsung SmartThings, which is compatible with Amazon’s Echo system and its assistant, Alexa, and popular devices like Nest thermostat and Nest protect.
For more ideas, check out PC Magazine’s recommendations for “The Best Smart Home Security Systems for 2020” and “The Best Smart Home Devices for 2020.” Also take a look at The Ambient on “Best smart home hubs 2020: Do more by picking the perfect hub” and “The best smart home systems 2020: Top ecosystems explained.”
A word of caution as you expand your home’s tech capabilities:
Remember that all devices are connected and therefore vulnerable to hackers. Follow expert advice and best practices as you build your smart home system to keep your home and your information safe.