Take Everything A Smart Home Provides To Work

Modern meeting roof with large television, webcam and meeting table and chairs.Is your company jumping aboard the Smart revolution and giving you Alexa and Google Smart Home Assistant on your desk?

If you’re like me and need a quiet office in order to work you probably won’t appreciate the addition of a Smart Assistant right off, but they do have their advantages. However, they take commitment. Reading the installation ‘managing devices’ instructions for Alexa for Business would make a sensible person run away screaming, but I guess that’s what IT support are for.

However, if you survive that, the advantages of having an assistant there on your desk are many.

One of the most common uses for a Smart Assistant in our office is spelling. Rather than taking a stab in word and right-clicking when it comes up with a red line, we have people yelling things such as “Alexa, spell bureaucracy!” across the room. And as if to point out the fault of relying on Word to pick up your slack, it suggested ‘plutocracy’ when I tried and failed to spell bureaucracy. Read more

We Know Alexa, But What About Google Assistant?

Everyone seems to be talking about Alexa when it comes to Smart Home Assistants as hers is the name that everyone seems to call when asking for help around the house or for answering questions. Perhaps this is because Alexa is more closely associated with home assistance while those of us who remember are more likely to associate saying “OK Google” with voice activated phone searches. If you Google “does anyone still use Siri?” (the iPhone’s progenitor to voice activated assistants) you’ll find that the novelty wore off almost instantly and by 2016 approximately 2% of iPhone users still asked her to do her tricks.

So while Alexa is on everyone’s lips Google is still producing a range of Smart Home Automation devices which are geared toward efficiency and security. You’ll probably have seen in the news recently that Nest devices won’t work with Google’s Home System from this summer onwards. That is an over-reaction, all Nest home security and environmental controls will still work perfectly, however, you will have to connect your Nest goods via the Google Home app rather than the Nest app which it ships with. You certainly won’t be left high and dry if you’re a Nest customer.

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Is A Mesh Network Which Is Always Listening A Good Thing Or Bad?

We wrote previously on how a mesh network uses several routers to improve the overall WiFi coverage you’ll be able to get in your home, eliminating blind spots and making it possible to use a complete range of connected devices anywhere about the house no matter how bad reception had been in the past.

BT, along with their superfast fibre broadband, are offering additional routers they simply refer to as ‘discs’. Other ISPs let you add further routers and repeaters to your system, but don’t currently offer the extra hardware themselves.

But before you go out and buy a raft of routers to add to your home network to improve your WiFi coverage, take a look at what Amazon are doing with Alexa. Read more

New To Alexa? What To Do With Your Smart Speaker Straight Out Of The Box

Over Christmas Briant Communications and Jacobs Steel, a local estate agent based in Worthing, teamed up to give away a Sonos Smart speaker to one of our Facebook followers. Jonathon won it and dropped by to collect it last week. While he was happy to have one, he quipped that he had no idea what to do with it.

And that’s a problem that a lot of emerging tech has to contend with. People fail to appreciate what brilliant things their gadgets can do and so never get the full benefit of owning such handy home devices. I’m sure we’ve all watched over a colleague’s shoulder as they struggle to do something on their computer or phone because they didn’t know there was an easy way. (Years ago I had a colleague who would copy email addresses for contact by hand and then type them into the address field because he didn’t know you could copy & paste.) There must be any number of things we all do every day that those in the know would find baffling or incredibly timewasting, so how do you get the most from your smart speaker straight out of the box? Read more

Making Your Alexa Family Friendly

If you have kids living with you you’ll no doubt want to set up your Alexa or Google Assistant to make it fun, exciting and most of all safe for children to use. From avoiding playing adult song lyrics and inappropriate content to preventing shopping for goods and services, there are a number of different security measures you can take to make your Smart home system child friendly. (We’ll be talking about Alexa, but all other Smart Home Hubs operate in a similar fashion.) 

First of all, make sure you have all your devices operating on the same account. Most of us have any number of different accounts with a variety of different service providers and it might seem like a good idea to segment your suppliers and accounts but with home automation this just makes things incredibly complicated, unnecessarily confusing and difficult to apply consistent security across all accounts. If you’re using Echo, create a dedicated Amazon account which you can use to manage and control all your apps, actions, recipes and skills. Having them all in one place will also mean that if any of your apps stop working you’ll know where to go to look for the updates and fixes. Having them all together on one Amazon account also means that all your connected devices should work together seamlessly without any need for special recipes or instructions. Read more

What’s It Like To Live With Google Home Or Alexa?

Boy sitting in lounge using tv via a tablet computerDuring the run up to Christmas, you can’t have helped seeing all the ads for Alexa, Google Home Assistant, Smart Speakers and all other things ‘smart’. It’s almost as if there’s a technological revolution taking place and nobody’s told us what it’s all about!

When we thought about automated homes a few years ago it was the domain of sci-fi and horror. Movies such as the seminal Demon Seed and 2001 A Space Odyssey depicted the way an all seeing, omnipresent robot in our home would try to take over and make us mere mortals it’s slave. Or we’d perish trying to resist. It turns out Big Brother didn’t have to force us to put Telescreens into our homes, we bought them willingly from Google and Amazon! Read more

Getting Started With A Smart Home System

Child watching television in a lounge filled with furniture.

Once strictly the field of sci-fi movies, a home that can be controlled by talking to it when you’re in, or by remote control (via your phone) when you’re out, is no longer a fantasy. It’s not even the preserve of the super-rich, it’s available to buy on every high street or by clicking here.

Smart devices (Technically SMART, it’s an acronym for ‘self-monitoring analysis and reporting technology) are interconnected, intelligent products such as fridges, TVs, lights, home security, including doorbells and intercoms, heating and air conditioning and even vacuum cleaners. All these devices operate on a range of different platforms, such as BlueTooth, HaLow, (low power, long range wireless) or WIFI. Because the signalling between devices isn’t compatible with one another, it will be necessary to invest in a home hub. These are the voice activated characters we are becoming familiar with. Say “Alexa, do this!” or “OK Google, do that!” and the reassuring, yet robotic voice will reply while it puts your command into action.

If You’ve Heard About Smart Home Devices, But You’re Not Sure What They Are Or How They Can Improve Your Quality Of Life, Read On

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