Last Updated Feb 15, 2019 · Written by Penelope Barker · 7 min read
Google Home and Amazon Alexa are super popular gifts, and tens of thousands of people have become proud voice assistant owners…without really knowing what they can do.
If that sounds like you, we can help. Voice assistants can do much more than tell jokes – they can unlock the power of a truly connected smart home, with a few quick renovations.
Here are five smart home renovations you can do that will really unlock the power of Google Home and Amazon Alexa and bring your home into the 21st century!
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A smart home is one that’s connected to the cloud via your home wifi. Devices like locks, blinds, and speakers can be controlled from your phone, and from voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa (via the Amazon Echo product line).
A voice assistant isn’t compulsory though, as most of these devices can also be controlled through a smart phone app. However, a voice assistant makes things much simpler by providing a single place to control all your smart home functions.
In our dreams about the future, blinds rolling themselves up to reveal the morning sun is at the top of the list! Now add an automatic fade up of your morning playlist or favourite radio station, and you’ve got a great way to wake up.
In any room of the house, smart blinds have some pretty incredible benefits:
· Your blinds can open and close according to the temperature, keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer.
· They can slowly close through the evening to simulate an early sunset, making it easier to get kids to bed.
· You can close them with your voice, or with your phone from work. Isn’t that cool enough?
Lots of modern smart blinds come with Google Home or Amazon Alexa integration, but some will require a little more work. A good blind installer will help you pick the right blinds for your home and your technical setup.
Google Home and Amazon Alexa are great voice assistants, but they’re also great speakers! They can fill your home with music without having to switch on a hi-fi or put on a CD.
But getting that music outside is a problem. Voice Assistants aren’t waterproof, and outside isn’t a secure place for expensive technology. That’s where traditional outdoor speakers can help.
Once you have outdoor speakers installed, they can be connected to your smart home network with a Chromecast Audio or Amazon Echo Input. Then it’s a matter of asking your voice assistant to play music on the patio!
3. Smart Light Switches
You might have seen people get excited about wifi connected light bulbs, like the Philips Hue. These make the lights in your home automated and remote controllable, which has lots of benefits:
· Never forget if you turned a light off again – turn it off from work, or bed!
· Automated light schedules can easily simulate a house being lived in while on holidays.
· Dimming features make it quick and easy to lower the lights for films and birthday cake.
Here’s the problem: Smart bulbs don’t come in every shape and size, and not all fittings have smart bulbs on the market, especially down lights.
Instead of smart bulbs, you can install smart switches. These replace your current light switches, adding remote control and automation to the lights you already have. It results in less smart devices to manage and saves you money on replacement bulbs.
Smart switches need to be made for Australian voltages and safety standards, so you’ll need to call in a qualified electricianto do the work.
Ask anyone with a video doorbell and they won’t be able to remember how they lived without it. A video doorbell sends you a notification when someone’s at the door, gives you a live video feed, and lets you speak to them through your phone.
· They’re great when you’re expecting deliveries.
· If you can’t hear someone knocking, a video doorbell can alert you through Google Home or Amazon Alexa.
· A video doorbell also helps track down anything stolen from your front porch. Delivery snatchers beware!
Video doorbells do require some installation, including running power to the unit. Your choice of video doorbell may change if you want to expand into a full smart security system (see point 5). A home automation expert can help you choose and install the best doorbell for you.
Fast computers and speedy wifi has had a huge impact on the home security industry. Smart security cameras can notify you when someone’s home, let you live stream 24/7, and can even recognise familiar faces. They come in indoor and outdoor versions, and most work with your voice assistant.
You might also consider getting a smart door lock. Smart locks are truly amazing gadgets:
· A smart door lock lets you can control who gets in and out without keeping track of spare keys.
· You can remotely lock the door if you forget, or open it for house guests.
· You’ll never need to call a locksmith again! (Except to install a few more smart locks)
It’s not an understatement to say we’re living in a world of science fiction. That Google Home or Amazon Alexa you got for Christmas is only one part of the much bigger world of smart homes and home automation.
Once you get started upgrading your home it can be hard to stop! The power of smart home technology gets more impressive every day.