These days, having a voice-activated digital assistant in your pocket is pretty much taken for granted. Instead of typing on tiny touchscreens, we've all become accustomed to simply whipping out our phones and saying, "Hey Cortana, call Dad," or "OK Google, dial 911," or "Hey Siri, what is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?" So it's no surprise, really, that a similar digital assistant, Alexa, has rocketed Amazon's Echo to the top of the electronics sales charts month after month for more than a year now.
So, why has Amazon Echo been such a huge hit? Mostly because Alexa it does it all. She plays music for you. She gives you the news and weather. She manages your shopping lists and calendar appointments. She even tells you jokes, for goodness' sake. And best of all, she can turn your home into a voice-controlled sci-fi dream, giving you the ability to dim your lights, adjust your thermostat, lock your doors, fire up your Keurig, turn up your ceiling fan and more, using nothing more than the sound of your voice.
Actually, strike that. The best thing about Alexa is that she actually works. And she works with more and more smart home devices all the time, some directly, and others via smart home hubs like SmartThings, Wink, and most recently Nexia as well as smart security panels from places like Vivint.
The advantages of adding a compatible hub to your Amazon Echo control system are numerous; it not only vastly expands the number of devices that Alexa can control, but also the types of devices under her command. And having a hub in place also gives your voice commands more power by allowing you to link interoperable Z-Wave devices. Say you have a SmartThings hub, for example, programmed to turn on the porch light if you lock your front door after dark. In that case, you wouldn't need to tell Alexa to do both; simply saying, "Alexa, lock the front door" at night could automatically trigger the programming that also illuminates the exterior of your home.
And that's just one example of way the smart home is evolving to include innovative control methods that make your home more intuitive to control than even the most imaginative science-fiction writers could have ever dreamt of. Scene controllers like the Nexia One Touch, for example, allow you to literally change the look of your entire home at the touch of a single button. And FIBARO’s new gesture controller SWIPE allows you to manipulate the devices in your home by simply waving your hand in the air like some sort of sorcerer.
The only thing that could be easier would be controlling your home with the power of thought alone, and we're not quite there yet. But with Alexa voice control combined with the power of Z-Wave, we're close enough that it still seems like magic.
Z-Wave, Home Control, Smart Home, Amazon Echo, Alexa, voice integration, FIBARO, Nexia, Wink, SmartThings, gesture control, one touch living
Anyone who's ever lived with a pet knows that they're creatures of habit. And really, smart home technology is really just way of teaching your own house a few good habits of its own.
Whether your winters are frozen over or soggy and gloomy, the end of winter means one thing for most of us: a greater risk of water damage. Whether it's frozen pipes that have burst, or spring rains that bring flooding, or drainage systems that are clogged, water in the home is a real issue in the spring. Either way, early detection can make all the difference.
Linear - Z-Wave Wall Mount Dimmer Switch
A smart home can help ease your worries and provide you the peace of mind you need to keep yourself on track with the rest of your day. Here are a few problems that keeping your home connected can solve.
Smart home tech doesn't have to be limited to the four walls of your house - there are quite a bit of ways to enhance your outdoor experience with some connected tech.
Notifications & Alerts - AT&T Digital Life
Dawn Of The Smart Home - Vivint
By now, you're probably familiar with the basics of what a smart home can do: unlock and lock your doors remotely, control devices like lights and thermostats from your smart app and allow these gadgets to talk to one another and create automated scenes to make life easier and comfortable.
Working from home can be both challenging and rewarding, depending on your working style. Distractions around the home or loud outside noises can all stand as hurdles when you're trying to buckle down and churn out work.
Home automation is what it sounds like: automating the ability to control items around the house—from window shades to pet feeders—with a simple push of a button (or a voice command). Some activities, like setting up a lamp to turn on and off at your whim, are simple and relatively inexpensive.
A home automation system that runs across a whole house will benefit from a central processing unit that can act as a gateway for – and converse with – each of the sensors, devices and interfaces in the property.
So if you have a Z-Wave bridging smart hub, and want to monitor water levels in your sump pump, then the Aeotec Sensor is a great option.
Smart homes may seem intimidating but here are a few quick summer projects you can do to reinvent your dumb home and bring it to life as a smart one.
Smart home devices can be connected using the Wi-Fi network, but Almond 3 also works with ZigBee and with Z-Wave and Bluetooth through the use of Bluetooth dongles. As a result, Almond 3 works directly with most major smart home products on the market — including Amazon Echo.
The most popular area for new smart systems or devices to appear is home security or safety upgrades, the study found. One-fourth of renovating homeowners install smart products for this area.
Smart homes come with options for a home automation controller that allows the user to control things like door locks, light switches, thermostats, cameras, security systems and energy monitoring solutions from their smartphone or tablet.
If you're still manually turning your lights on and off, 2016 should be the year you finally dare to embrace home automation. Smart home solutions can help you streamline your life to be more efficient and productive. Plus, with fewer home tasks to worry about, you'll end up with more time, energy, and money for the things that really matter.