The take up of smart thermostats has been low here as they require an electrician to install and you need to ensure it works with your chosen smart home ecosystem. If you are going down this route take to a smart home expert and it looks like the winner may be Nest.
Smoke detectors can be smart too. Our review of the Nest taught us so much, and we are gradually replacing all dumb detectors. This could be very interesting with IFTTT so that when it detects smoke, it can turn off AC, open/close windows, send an email and even call the fire brigade.
In the interim you can add smarts to any air conditioner that has an Infrared control via Ambi – it works very well.
Smart speakers are the manifestation of a vast AI cloud. The speaker is dumb – all it does is listen for a watchword and present the query to an AI cloud. Oh and some have good quality sound – many do not.
We have written so much about speakers from Google, LG, Panasonic, Lenovo, JBL, Amazon Echo, Apple Siri that we are frankly smart ‘speakered’ out. Here is a brief overview of Google Assistant and Alexa.
Summary: Best Google speakers
- mono sound: LG WK7
- stereo sound: Google Max (runner up Panasonic SC-GA10 – the review is before the stereo firmware update )
- waterproof: JBL Link series are impressive and waterproof
- combo screen/speaker: Lenovo 10” followed by Lenovo 8” and the Google HomeHub
In the Alexa world (Gadget Guy info here)
If you live in the Apple ecosystem, HomeKit was a little slow off the mark and has some catching up to do.
Siri is the Apple HomePod and HomeKit voice.
We could write several thousand words on what they can and can’t do but essentially its general questions, music, voice control, YouTube and shopping.
Smart Home Hubs
A smart hub offers a uniform platform to control all smart home gadgets that do not communicate with each other or use the same apps, e.g. they replace all those apps! Smart home hubs allow you to automate many processes and take advantage of IFTTT.
GadgetGuy does not have much experience here, but Samsung’s SmartThings is a multi-protocol hub that has Zig-bee, Z-Wave (Australian frequency), Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. As long as the Hub has a certified Works With SmartThings device (read this to see the growing range), it will control it and open it up to Google Assistant and often Alexa control.
We see SmartThings as the best alternative and will be testing it soon. That is not to take away from other brand hubs but look for the devices they support before buying.
Read our article on IoT safety. Pretty well any IoT device can be hacked, and you can take five easy steps to reduce the risk.
The smart home end
Have you been planning to retrofit and make a home a smart home? The good news is that with the advice here you can DIY and get up to speed without major hair loss or blood pressure rising. But remember that getting all these things to work together is not simple. We have not even mentioned smart TV or home AV system control yet.
If you are building a smart home then talk to your sparky about wiring for a smart home and Clipsal Schneider has a lot of the issues sorted and you can fit electric blinds, smart plugs, sensors, thermostats. Lighting and more that works seamlessly together.
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