Home Is Where the Smart Is: Smart Home Advances from 2016
Smart homes are here to make our lives easier. From controlling room temperature to re-ordering kitchen supplies, a home with intelligent devices can make us more comfortable, take over mundane tasks, and remind us of the things we often forget.
Devices in Disarray
However, while it’s true that some devices like smart thermostats, smart light bulbs, and home security systems have already been connected to the internet and accessible via smartphones for a few years, they have traditionally been accessed through a myriad of individual apps, causing confusion in the users.
The big advances in smart homes in 2016 were how these devices are being integrated together in our personal Internet of Things and how we control them in our home environment.
Personal Home Assistants to the Rescue
Home assistants made a big leap forward this year with several tech companies rolling out versions of their voice-controlled assistants. While still basic in what they can do for us, these devices are the foundation for centralizing the control of our smart homes.
The big difference between these new personal assistants and the ones we’ve been using on our phones for a few years now is that these assistants are dedicated fixtures of the home, built to be always listening, and capable of hearing us from across rooms and understanding our voices over ambient noises and music.
Is There an Echo in Here?
In 2016, Amazon released the Echo Dot, a smaller version of their original Echo smart speaker. Both versions allow voice control of streaming music services such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, and many others.
Echo’s voice assistant, Alexa, can read audio books aloud, announce traffic and weather reports, and order things for you off Amazon. Internet-enabled devices such as smart lightbulbs, thermostats, and switches can be controlled by simply talking to Alexa and making requests for things like shutting off lights or turning up the heat.
Google’s answer to Amazon’s Echo in 2016 was its own home assistant smart speaker called Google Home, which has many of the same functional features as the Echo and Dot, along with the added edge that the Google voice assistant is able to hold contextual conversations for more natural interactions when you search for information or give it tasks.
Drawing upon Google’s search algorithms, Google Home takes the lead in providing accurate and in-depth information for the subject matters about which you inquire.
Apple also entered into the Internet of Things market last year with the launch of their iOS 10 app called Home. Designed to be a centralized home monitoring system, it can control lights, locks, windows shades, and thermostats, as well as security systems that incorporate alarms and home surveillance cameras.
All of those smart devices can be controlled via the app to create different day and night configurations or through home and away security strategies that can be activated with the touch of a single button.
Some Programming Required
Other smart device manufacturers like Hive and Netatmo enabled IFTTT integration this past year, which allows you to program their devices using applets to create automated tasks such as geo-fencing your thermostat so that your heater comes on when you leave from work, ensuring your house is warm when you arrive home.
Amazon recently updated its automatic order device Dash to be programmable, too. Now, instead of only being used for re-ordering commonly used consumables, it can be programmed to do a host of things, from making a phone call to opening your car door.
These kinds of device applications are just some of the ways that smart devices can bring customizable automation into our lives, cutting down the amount of time and amount of interaction it takes to complete common daily tasks.
However, they do require a substantial amount of time to set up and program, and not all devices work together seamlessly, yet. If you want to skip the hassle and confusion of setup, reach out to the team at TVTI today for a fully customized intelligent home solution.