If you got an Alexa for Christmas you’ve been living with her for a month now. How’s that going for you? Many people will be getting used to having her around and thinking about what else she can do. As a stand-alone device she can be a lot of fun, but her real benefits only come when she is synchronised to the rest of your Smart devices.
It’s easy to choose the smart tech which will work with Alexa, because the answer is basically anything! If it’s an Amazon or Echo product it will work with Alexa with the minimum of fuss. Then there are all the third party products which Amazon has given licenses to. Manufacturers have recognised that if their product is going to sell then it’s necessary to make it compatible with the leading Smart home interface, which is essentially Alexa. Google Home is right along side Amazon with market penetration, so it’s handy that these two major players are working together to create a ubiquitous format which will support all devices.
But now that you don’t have to worry about whether your new investment will work with others, which are the top choices of nick-nacks which will bring joy and ease of function to your life?
Why not check out these top ten purchases to begin with, and see where the Smart home revolution takes you?
1 Smart Plugs
Smart plugs are the easiest and quickest way to make any ‘dumb’ device Smart. Simply plug in a Smart plug, like an adapter, and whatever you then attach to it becomes a little bit smart, insomuch as you can turn it on and off from wherever you are using a voice command if you’re at home, or via an app on your phone if you’re out of the house.
2 Smart Lights
Like Smart plugs, all you need to do is attach them to the power supply, attach them to attach them to our home network and you’re away! Dimmable and on-and-offable through voice or app, and you can choose from any number of colours too. That’s not where the Smart stops though, advanced Smart lights have alternatives including speakers and mics so you can play music, make and receive announcements throughout the house, use voice commands even where you don’t have a Smart speaker or control panel, and even make call to those on your contacts. There are others available with motion detection so the lights come on when you move about, but they can also be linked to your security system to protect your home in the hours of darkness.
3 Smart Clocks
No the most immediate household device that you might think of to make ‘Smart’ but a voice controlled clock is easily reset for GMT and BST, you can set the alarm just by asking it to remind you, and it connects with all your other devices, so if, like me, you like a visual aid when estimating how long something should take you can look at the clock as you figure it out.
4 Smart Thermostats
A traditional thermostat is fine if you live in perfect order with a set routine you never stray from. However, if your life is a bit more chaotic you might find that you’re not able to stick to your thermostat’s routine. You might be getting home early soaked to the skin in a downpour, or late thank s to traffic or rail delays. Being able to turn the heat on so the house is toasty when you get home, but not wasting heat by warming an empty house makes Smart thermostats energy efficient, and moneysaving.
5 Smart Access Control
Smart access control is like having an intercom, but you can take it with you wherever you go. Used simply via your Alexa speaker you can talk to whoever’s at the door, and ask it to unlock if you want them to come in. So if you’re in bed, the bath, or watching TV there’s no need to get up and go down to answer the door. Add the app to your phone though and you can see who’s at the door before they ring, talk to them, see what they’re doing, and if you want them to come in or put a delivery inside the door, you can open it from anywhere. Once the door swings shut it locks again, just like a normal Yale lock would, making your home secure once more.
6 Security Alarms And CCTV
An extension of Smart access control is to use Smart Tech for all of your home security. It’s quick and easy to install and lets you keep an eye on the house from wherever you are. Smart CCTV lets you see and talk to people who are on your property in real time while your security alarms will let you know if someone enters your property, if someone goes anywhere out of bounds (important if you’re in hospitality or have an open house), or even just when you’ve left the windows open when you’re on your way out of the house. Most security systems will work via the mains with a battery back-up with the footage the CCTV cameras record being stored on the cloud to prevent it being stolen or destroyed by the intruder.
7 Emergency Alarms
It’s a depressing thing to have to think about but every household really should have a robust collection of alarms to detect fire, smoke, carbon monoxide and flood water. Smart alarms improve on standard alarms in several ways. If more than one detect a fire or smoke they can put a call straight through to emergency services (as two or more devices being tripped at any one time is less likely to be a burned toast or someone smoking indoors). Not only that, they can turn on lights and unlock doors which have Smart locks, making evacuation and rescue much easier for anyone inside. As well as an audible alarm they will send a push notification to your app so that you’re made aware of the alarm wherever you are. And should the Wi-Fi fail they will continues to make a sonic alarm.
8 Smart TV
Once you’re safe and secure in your Smart home you’ll want to kick back and relax a bit. Why not do that in front of a Smart TV or projector? Home entertainment which can be controlled via the voice is so much handier than having to hunt for the remote, and then find new batteries, oh, but that’s the wrong remote… Instead why not just tell your TV what you want to watch? Smart TVs are easy to hang on the wall, or if you’ve space, incorporate into a home cinema, and they can be connected to the internet to, giving you the opportunity to watch Netflix on the big screen as well as your laptop or phone.
9 Subwoofers and Surround Sound
Having a great picture is fabulous, but you need the best sound quality to go with it. Some people find the speakers in their TV rather small, and if you opt for a projector you might only get a built in driver, or no speakers at all. Bluetooth Smart sound systems provide a rich, booming base, audible high notes and everything in between which is often lost by inferior built in solutions. And because they’re smart you can control them with your voice too, have them mute automatically or pause all together when you take a call or receive an announcement from someone else in the house.
10 Fridge Cams and Recycling Barcode Readers
Anywhere between a third and half the food we buy ends up going into landfill. Not only is that bad for the environment, it’s bad for our bank balances too. Avoid waste by keeping an accurate track of the food you have in the larder by installing a camera in the fridge! The app lets you see what’s in there while you’re shopping if you’ve forgotten you list, it will also tell you what’s nearing its expiry and what’s got a few more days left. The barcode reader attached to your recycling bin and helps you keep track of what you’re using and throwing away, helping you re-order or reorganise your shopping list based on what you’re getting through the quickest.