Kitting Out Your First Smart Home? Start With The Basics

We’ve all been there. We’re browsing online, popped into a shop or visited an exhibition stand at the mall only to be pulled in by a great looking ad or snappy sales patter, then coming away with a bit of tat masquerading as tech that never gets used.

You get it home, open the packaging, set it up and find that it’s nothing like as good as you thought it would be, it’s cheaply made, poorly performing and probably makes a funny smell if you leave it switched on too long. But you’re ashamed of yourself for being tricked, so, instead of sending it back and asking for your money back it just falls into redundancy or gets put in the cupboard under the sink/stairs/attic or garage in the hopes that you’ll either find a use for it or give it to the jumble next time they come looking for collections.

The problem is that the more technology which is available to go into our homes, the more rubbish there is blocking our view of the good, helpful gadgets and tools which would help make life that much easier. And different people have different needs. We’re sold on ‘lifechanging appliances’ but unless we actively want to change the way we live our lives, a bit of tech we can pick up for a few pounds at the supermarket isn’t going to make a huge difference to our lifestyle. Read more

Your Smart Lights Can Do More Around The Home Than You Know

3 Ornamental lights in a row hanging from a light coloured ceilingAttaching smart lights to your home network is a quick and convenient way to get energy efficient lights which adapt to your needs into your home. They’re great for enhancing a mood, easily dimmable and can be used in conjunction with your home security to come on at times which make it look as if someone’s home even when you’re out. But being Smart, they must be able to do more than that, right?

Right!

If you’re syncing your lighting to your home security it makes sense to add a motion sensor to your lights too. Inside or outside, the motion detector will turn the lights on wherever you want, so if you’re coming home on a wet & drear night you can have the porch light turned on to save fumbling, or sensors which turn on CCTV cameras can turn on bedroom lights, alerting you to potential intruders and sending the message to those lurking on your property that you’re aware they’re there. These little touches make it look like you’re home and awake even when the property is unoccupied. Read more

Not Sure If You Locked The Door Or Turned The Oven Off? Check It Without Rushing Back Home

Woman using a button access control panel on a white wallIf you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself constantly returning home to check you’ve locked the doors or turned off the stove. Barely a week goes by when, if you were my stalker, you’d see me turn around before I’d even got to the end of the street and checking I’d locked the door to the office when it comes time for me to go home.

Some say it’s down to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), others say it’s a short term memory problem, but personally I put it down to an incredibly short attention span. If I deliberately try to notice something or do something out of sequence, such as turning the locks in a different order, then the event is impressed into my memory and I can get on the bus, safe in the knowledge that work will still be there when I come back in the morning.

If the anxiety sets in soon enough I can come back and check, but sometimes that nagging doubt doesn’t manifest itself until I’m on the bus miles toward home. I reassure myself with the fact that never once have I ever forgotten to lock up and, thanks to the aforementioned short attention span, I soon forget to worry about it and carry on without turning back. Read more

Save Time Now And Prepare For The Future With Labour Saving Smart Tech

As well as being an efficient way of protecting your home from intruders, watch the kids and talk to your pets while you’re at work, and ask questions, smart home devices are perfect for saving time and effort around the house.

We’re very much an ‘on demand’ society these day. We want everything instantly and while modern technology does its best to deliver access as soon as a whim crosses our minds, it has its limitations. And that’s where Smart Technology can come in and save the day!

There’s little worse than coming home to a cold dark house in the middle of winter. So why not let your house know when you’re on your way home and putting the heating on ready for your return? And it’s irritating when you leave home for the day and realise that you’ve left the lights or heating on, so turn it off as soon as you remember, whether that’s from the train, your desk or the airport as you fly off on your holidays.

At the shops and can’t find your list? You should have had your Smart recycling bin send you the list, but never mind, just look at the camera in the fridge and look how low the milk is getting. You can programme it to keep track of the Best Before dates too, so you always have fresh fruit & veg. This is handy for people on the go, and it’s equally handy if you’ve trouble remembering things or you care for a relative who finds it hard to get out. The reassurance you feel from knowing that their fridge is stocked takes a load off your mind. Read more

New Tech, New Frustrations! How To Get To Grips With Your Brand New Gadgets

Sonos music speaker and a tablet showing the artwork for an album.So it’s been a month, how are you getting on with the new electronic devices you got for Christmas? If you think you’re struggling and that you’re not getting as much out of your tech as possible, you’re not alone. More than a quarter of people surveyed said that they’re not sure how to use their electronics properly, and feel they are probably missing out.

The problem most of us have with electronics we’re not familiar with is that we use it in exactly the same way we used the piece of tech that it is replacing, and if we don’t get to grips with a new feature straight away, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get to know it. Attempts have been made in the past to teach new users how to improve their interface with the user, you’ll remember of course Microsoft’s paperclip, called, imaginatively enough “Clippy,” a dog called “Rover”, and a wizard called Merlin which would pop up whenever you wanted to do something, getting in the way and giving you flawed advice. Fortunately for all, that particular piece of fury-fuel was discontinued in 2007 after it was noticed that everybody hated it. 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

Something As Simple As Poor WiFi Could Knock A Fortune Off The Price Of Your Property

BT’s Modern Families ReportWiFi enabled tablet, coverage, improved service has found that 52% of families in the UK would be put off of living in a home with poor wifi. Unreliable reception, blackspots, and weak signal could therefore knock thousands of pounds off the value of your home when you come to sell it.

As anthropologist Amber Case said, “we’re all cyborgs now” and you can see the evidence of that in your own home every day. We’re all connected to our electronic devices and they become increasingly integral to our lives the longer we spend with them. Our dependent relationship becomes immediately and painfully evident if you ever have a wifi outage. It’s a viscerally unpleasant feeling to know you can’t just check on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Twitter. And if you’re heavily reliant on IoT connected devices, Smart TV and Netflix, that unpleasant feeling is multiplied. Read more

Integrating Digital Into Every Aspect Of Home And Lifestyle

smart technology, lightingLife and work change along with the accessibility of technology people make use of. When you like using something, you find ways to use it in your everyday life. Ease of use and advances in functionality make things more useful, and the more useful they are, the faster and more deeply they are adopted.

Working From Home Will Make Your Home Work Differently

Technological advances, like evolution itself, are a part of a creeping change, and only occasionally manifests itself as a identifiable leap. If you look at home-working, there has been a natural progression which allowed this to come about. Home working was often considered as skiving for most people until relatively recently. Today, with the reliability of digital communications, the ubiquity of laptops, tablets etc. and the problems people have commuting remote working is now a practical solution, and it’s been found that people are actually more productive working from home than from the office.

Because our lifestyles, workstyles, living and working spaces are evolving and merging with one another the space where that takes place needs to change and evolve too. A lifestyle ecosystem will develop around individuals which will include home, work, leisure, and relaxation, all taking place in one unified space. Smart technology will play an increasingly large part in that. Read more