I think we are all used to the idea of having “smart” phones – ie the ones where you can access the internet as well as make phone calls. Then there are smart TVs – again, where you can access TV channels via the internet (eg NetFlix, iPlayer etc). And increasingly we are getting used to the idea of having a “smart” home, where your home can be monitored/managed simply by the use of your voice.
At the most basic level, you can introduce a level of “smartness” to your home by having an “assistant” – eg Alexa device, or Google nest for example. These are devices that can respond to your command simply by calling “their” name (eg Alexa, or Google) and then issuing a series of demands/questions thereafter. A simple command might be: “Alexa: what’s the weather forecast for today?” Alexa will then provide you with its forecast. However, the power of these devices can really be harnessed by using them as if they were your own personal assistant. They can be linked to your TV so that you can command your device to play a particular channel. Or they can be linked to your central heating boiler and your voice can command the heating to go on or off. They can also be linked to your lighting, so that one command can switch off all of your lighting. And they can also be controlled using your smartphone when you’re not even in the house – so if you’re coming home earlier than when your heating is due to come on, you can switch your boiler on so that your house is nice and cosy by the time you step over your front door.
One of the great advantages of these devices is that you can be totally hands free. You may be about to put a cake into the oven with messy hands and instead of having to scrabble around to find your kitchen timer, wash and dry your hands, then set the timer, all you have to do is say “Alexa: set a timer for x minutes” and the device will then announce when the time is up. Another useful purpose for them is to set reminders. How many times do you forget to do something – maybe even something simple like put out the bins, or more seriously, forget to take your pills at a particular time? With a smart device, all you have to do is to ask it to remind you to “put the bins out every Tuesday” or “take my pills at 8am every day”. If you link it to your internet calendar, you can add events using your voice, or query what is in your diary for a particular day/week and your personal assistant will tell you what you’re doing that day. Link it to your music streaming account (eg Spotify) and you can listen to any track that’s available via that service simply by asking it to play that track – or you can get it to play a genre of music, or if you’re a bad sleeper, you can get it to play ambient music or white noise to help you get to sleep.
Some of the smart devices have screens on them allowing you to search for recipes, or play youtube videos. You can even video call someone and communicate to them using your device. The other person that you’re video calling only needs to have the appropriate app on their smart phone for them to see you. They don’t need the same device as yours.
This article only skims the surface of what you can do with these devices – there are smart kettles, smart refrigerators – even smart toilets!
As always, if you’d like a friendly chat about these devices and how they can help you around the house, please give me a call on 0785 509 2227.