5 types of smart devices and personal assistants to create an automated home, explained.
Smart devices for your home run the gamut from thermostats and lighting to more complex systems that detect leaking appliances or act as personal assistants — all in the interest of saving you money and making your life easier. Kimball Hicks, general manager of Wally Labs at Sears, demystifies the different types of smart devices for your home.
1. Voice-Controlled Smart Speakers
With artificial intelligence popping up everywhere from the chatbots on websites to your digital banking app, why not bring it home as well? You wouldn’t be alone: One in six Americans have a smart speaker, according to a report released at the end of 2017 by NPR and Edison Research.
“Amazon Echo and Google Home are incredibly useful for infotainment and general home and life management,” says Hicks. You can ask them to play music, tell you the weather forecast or remind you about an appointment. “It’s like having a personal assistant on your countertop,” he adds.
2. Home Monitoring Systems
Take that vacation without worrying, knowing Wally, which senses things like water leaks, temperature and humidity changes, is keeping tabs on your home.
“For some people, their primary concern is home security and peace of mind,” Hicks says. “Wally sensors help monitor those out-of-sight, out-of-mind places like under the kitchen sink and behind the washing machine.”
Wally can also alert you when a window or door is opened.
3. Smart Garage Door Openers
Being able to open and close your garage door from anywhere, as the Craftsman smart garage door opener allows, is a great option for people who worry about their kids leaving the garage door open or if they often forget to close it themselves, Hicks says.
4. Smart Door Locks
Imagine never having to fumble for your keys again — especially if your hands are full.
“For my wife, our connected door lock has been a huge benefit, and she never wants to go back,” Hicks says. “Being able to get in the house with groceries in her hands and two kids in tow without keys has been incredibly useful.”
5. Smart Lighting
Sure, smart lighting can turn on your indoor and outdoor lights as you’re pulling into the driveway after work. But did you know you can also change the colors of your lights and even connect lighting to react with other products? For example, one of your lights could flash blue when you get a text or email.
“These features are more fun and showcase the smart aspect of connected technologies,” Hicks says.
Smart Tech Tips and Tricks
Beyond the products themselves, Hicks gives a few tips to getting the most out of smart devices.
• Be aware of which devices work together and which don’t. A smart home assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home can be a good place to start. Then, look at other products — lighting, thermostats, etc. — that are compatible with that smart home solution so that devices work together seamlessly.
• Check your Wi-Fi. If you don’t have great Wi-Fi but you’d like to set up connected outdoor speakers, for instance, you’ll likely run into trouble. It’s always a good idea to check the strength of your Wi-Fi signal in an area before installing a smart home product.
• When in doubt, ask. Feel free to reach out to smart home manufacturers with questions or concerns. With any new technology or product, feedback is great and helps companies improve and innovate. Who knows — your idea or feedback might be the next great feature for your smart home product!