How to make your home smarter
We’ve come a long way since the first handheld mobile phone. Smartphones now let us send messages and connect with other devices around the world. So it’s no surprise that we’re seeing an increase in smart homes. A smart home is equipped with a range of devices - from lighting and heating to entertainment - that can be controlled remotely by a smartphone or computer.
What is the Internet of Things?
All of this can happen because of the Internet of Things. IoT allows devices to connect over the Internet, so they can ‘talk’ to us, applications and each other.
IoT devices can operate on their own or be controlled. Many household devices can be Wi-Fi enabled, including fridges and washing machines. A common example, is wireless controlled lighting which can adapt to early mornings and late evenings, with the use of a remote control or app on your smartphone.
What Smart Home products can I get?
To help you take your first steps towards a smarter home, we’ve selected five of our favourite clever tech products.
Google Home: £129, Currys
If you’ve seen this smart speaker advertised or have a Google smartphone, you may already be familiar with the command “Okay, Google”. Using this voice recognition will allow you to ask the speaker to perform a range of actions – like playing music, setting alarms or telling you how long your commute will take. Similar to the Amazon Echo, the gadget works with Apple and Android smartphones.
Nest Learning Thermostat: £219.00, John Lewis
If you’re always fighting over who controls the thermostat in your home, leave it to Nest. By talking wirelessly to your boiler, the smart thermostat can control your radiators and water heating. What’s more, it can adjust to your routine, so if you leave the house it will switch to Amber mode to save you energy. You can also use an app on your phone to turn your heating or water off. The thermostat isn’t compatible with every heating system just yet, but you can find more information at Nest.com.
Philips hue, white and colour ambiance starter kit: £169.99, John Lewis
One of the smartest lighting systems around, the Philip’s starter kit will illuminate your home like never before. With the pack, you get three bulbs, all controlled by the bridge unit. Using HomeKit, Google Home or Amazon Echo, you can control the bulbs to set to different colours, dim, brighten at different times or react to certain events. You can even choose from screw fit or bayonet fitting bulbs – what’s not to love?
Amazon Echo Dot: £49.99, Amazon
The cheapest product on our list is the small, but smart Echo Dot. Like the larger Echo, it uses voice recognition to listen to your commands. Though it is not a speaker, it can be connected to other hi-fi speakers to play music. Plus, it can read the news, set timers or act as an alarm in the bedroom.
Logitech Harmony Hub: £99, Logitech
The Harmony Hub puts you in control of a range of smart home devices – whether you’re at home or away! Using an app on your iOS or Android Smartphone, you can turn the volume up when watching your favourite movie, record a TV show when it’s finale week, dim the lights when entertaining and much, much more.