Your Handy-Dandy Guide to Smart Home Devices
Ever dreamed of having your own personal assistant? Now, you can get one
Every so often, tech giants make headlines with innovations they swear will bring the future into the present. These don’t necessarily have to be out-of-this-world inventions or extreme advances in technology; they just have to fulfill one thing: to upgrade—and keep upgrading—our day-to-day lives.
These are things like the Roomba® robot vacuum, a device created to literally clean up after people and the Samsung Family Hub Fridge, which basically functions as an enormous iPad that stores food. As it turns out, redefining the future begins with the regular household and transforming everyday items into something smarter. While we have a long way to go before we get to see the dawn of the flying car, we’re certainly well on our way to living like The Jetsons.
So, you’re already using a smartphone. How else can you live a little smarter? Scroll through for some of the best smart home devices you can shop online right now and have delivered to your doorstep. They’re all designed to make the tasking parts of life a little easier and the ordinary parts of it a little more extraordinary.
The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated smart speaker that comes with many other impressive functions. We’re sure you’ve heard of Alexa before; well, this is her platform. The Amazon Echo is basically a full-fledged assistant that plays or streams music or movies and sets an alarm for you. It also can read the news to you, order products online or search for information on the internet. When integrated into a larger smart security system at home, it can even control these home security devices.
What’s interesting about the Amazon Echo is that Alexa is a learning personal assistant. As you connect more compatible third-party apps that enable the smart assistant, the more things Alexa can do for you.
Google Home is the other high-rated product in the smart speaker department. This time, the keywords to use to wake up the voice assistant are: “OK, Google.”
Although Google’s assistant carries fewer third-party skills compared to Amazon Alexa, the bot behind the powerful speaker is still a handy home companion. It features built-in integration with Google Calendar, Maps and Chromecast, which means the smart speaker syncs seamlessly with your Google account.
Google says its virtual assistant can do over one million things, but the more popular ones are those tied to home control, digital entertainment, games and productivity.
The price of a Google Home smart speaker and virtual assistant home device ranges from $99 to $129.
The Apple HomePod works the same way as Amazon Alexa and Google’s AI assistants. If you’ve grown accustomed to using Siri on your iPhone, this one, then, is a cinch in terms of integrating it into your lifestyle. The magic words? “Hey, Siri.”
Tapping on the app on your phone lets you control your home lock and entertainment systems, regulate the room temperature, dim the lights or turn them on and off. You can do these and more when you have Apple HomeKit-compatible smart home devices like the HomePod (Apple’s version of smart speakers). What’s also great is that the HomeKit system can be shared by multiple members of the family from anywhere at any time so long as they have the up-to-date Apple TV or iPad.
Shopping for the Apple HomeKit and the line-up of compatible devices will cost around by $1,000, but it’s a home investment worth making.
August Smart Lock
A lot of forgetful individuals can benefit from upgrading their home locks to this one. The August Smart Lock not only automatically locks the door for you as you leave but also features sensors that activate the door unlock as you approach your home. It essentially turns your smartphone into a smart key.
The August Smart Lock lets you grant key access to friends and family for a few weeks, a few hours, a few minutes or even specific dates and times. You also never have to copy a key again with the August Smart Lock’s send-a-virtual key feature.
With this level of home security, $128 doesn’t seem all that steep.
Netgear Arlo Q Security Camera
The Arlo Q by Netgear is a web-based security camera that boasts high definition video quality, night vision capabilities and very powerful sensors for motion and sound detection. It’s perfect for monitoring every nook and cranny of your home since this security camera is designed with a 130-degree field of view. You can also view up to five live video streams all at the same time.
What sets this security camera system apart? The Netgear Arlo Q Security Camera sends instant alerts to your smartphone when it detects sound or motion in the areas this feature is activated. It also has a built-in mic and speaker, which allows you to talk and listen when needed.
The Arlo app is free to download for Android, iOS, or Fire OS devices. It’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and costs $145.
Running a household, whether large or small, can be a daunting task. Why not take advantage of these advances in tech to make the job easier? If not, you can always start small with smart personal gadgets. Check out the Globe Shop for smartphones, smart fitness bands, accessories and more. Consider these your smart lifestyle starter pack.