Now that we have so much time to take a hard look at our home having been quarantined in it for over 2 weeks, have you ever wondered why everything is still dumb even in the year 2020? Where is the robot maid like the Rosie in Jetsons cartoon that does all the cleaning? Floating wireless TVs? And hoverboards or conveyor belts that go around the house because god-forbid if we just had to walk that 20 steps to the kitchen.
Although we are probably 50 years away from Wall-E like living flying cars, sky cities and sterile pets; there are some things we can do to make our dumb home a little smarter using technology that is available today. There are so many ways you can “smartify” your home without hiring any professionals or ripping everything out. All you need is some smart gadgets (money and an internet connection for online shopping should be a given), a little bit of ingenuity, and some help from this blog article!
Home Hub Devices
Depending on the size of your house, you may want to get a couple of hub devices. I have an Amazon Echo as a gift which is possible to adapt but do take note that you can’t buy it and ship here from Amazon.com and the app isn’t compatible with the Singapore store yet so I use the website to connect my Echo to all the other smart devices. Other home hub devices that will work is the Google home and the Apple HomeKit. There are also other brands out there but as reliable and technical support are essential for these devices so I would recommend the more popular models.
A home hub is needed to control all the smart devices in your home directly and have one central command. You can configure it to operate all other devices with a simple voice command. E.g my IR blaster is added on to the Alexa app and so I can just say: “Alexa, turn on the Living Room Aircon” to turn it on.
Infrared (IR) or RF Blaster
Any home with these items will require an IR Blaster: TV, Cable Box, Aircon, remote controlled fan etc. I chose the Broadlink RM Pro for my living room (around $60) and the Broadlink RM mini (around $30) for the bedrooms. The difference is that the Pro version has a RF blaster included that can control your newer TVs and cable boxes that uses Radio Frequency instead of infra-red.
I set up the Broadlink devices via their IHC app to control my aircon (which isn’t smart by itself), TV, cable and fan. It also controls my robot vacuum if it is in range and not lost under the sofa or something.
Examples of how you can use the IR blaster when connected to your home hub are:
- Say “Alexa, change the channel on cable to 300.” to switch channels.
- “Turn on the robot vacuum.”
- “Turn off the Study aircon.”
Examples of use with IFTTT.com:
- Set using “Date & time” with the IHC contribution to turn on aircon at 1 pm, and then set another to turn off at 2pm every weekday.
- If you have a smart thermometer (see below) connected to the wifi, you can set a particular aircon to turn on when the temperature reaches 28 degrees celcius and off when it cools down to 25 degrees celcius.
These are relatively cheap (around $10 each) and will turn any dumb switch to a smart switch that is controllable via Wifi. I get all of mine (I have at least 7 in use) from Smart Life, they are not too bad. I keep them all the same brand so I don’t have too many different apps to set up.
Smart Devices Which Will Make Your Life Easier
Digital Door Locks
I’m using Yale but my friends and family are using Samsung. There are many kinds of ways a keyless digital lock can work e.g. RFID Cards, Number pad but I recommend the fingerprint ID access for true keyless entry.
Many exciting innovations are in the world of smart locks. Here’s one that is easy to install for your main door. https://gimdow.sg/
When you are done with smart locks for your door and gate, how about the rest of your house?
Smart Robot Vacuum
There are plenty of models of smart robots and I’m sure many are better than my 3-year-old Philips vacuum. However, it was a gift, it still works and cleans my small house relatively well so I will save my money for other smart gadgets. (I am aware there are smart sweepers and mops as well. If anyone wants to donate one to me, I’ll write a review on it LOL)
Smart Curtains or Blinds
Hold on! No need to bust out your manly tools just yet. These work with existing non-smart blinds and curtains. Blinds are so much easier to convert, just get one of these!
Getting up to pull your curtains can be such a hassle right?
Smart Light Switches
Not to forget, the lights in your house is probably the easiest and fastest to change to a smart switch.
Whaaaat? Ok, I didn’t really intend on getting a kettle that is smart. I mean, other than telling me the temperature of the water and keeping it at that temperature, it isn’t all that smart. Honestly, I got this Xiaomi kettle for the sexy look and the all-stainless-steel interior.
Sometimes I imagine the meetings in Xiaomi headquarters are like: “Sir, we have this awesome product but how do we improve it?” And the Head of Product design is like: “Stick a wifi chip in it.”
I honestly have not used the “smart” features in my threadmill. I have an Apple Watch that keeps track of my running and that’s all I need.
That’s all I have for now. Meanwhile, I think there are probably many other singular purposed smart devices that is not part of my life yet. Like a smart devices that does the laundry and hangs them up. Or something that cooks your meals automatically. We can all dream.
Enjoy your new sedentary lifestyle!