Whether you’re a tech-enthusiast who has to have all of the latest and greatest gadgets out there, or someone who couldn’t give a damn about these “gizmos”, we’ve all certainly heard of the concept of a smart home. The concept boils down to automating as many aspects of one’s home as possible. Home automation is certainly not a novel idea. Heck, even the Disney Channel made a movie about it in 1999. But with increases in cloud-computing power, the ubiquity of home networks, and the rise of the IoT of the past half a decade, home automation has become a reality.
From thermostats to pressure cookers, internet connection “smart” devices are popping up left and right to automate every facet of the home. Let’s be honest, while almost all of these devices can do something entertaining or useful, they are not all created equal. Some you use every day, while others may leave you perplexed as to what their utility is. Most of you reading this probably already have several smart devices throughout your home. If you're looking for new ways to upgrade your home, but are confused or intimidated by the wide array of devices out there, here's a list of what we think are the most valuable smart devices, and why they are the best choices for upgrading your home!
Maybe you got one during the big Echo sale this past Christmas, or saw your friend using a Google Home and you just needed to buy one for yourself (not to mention Apple's HomePod). Regardless, almost every smart home has one of these devices, ready at a moment’s notice to answer any of your questions or help control your other smart devices (albeit with limited functionality).
This one is a no brainer. Smart lights are some of the most affordable options out there for upgrading your home. Their price, combined with the necessity of lights makes these devices pretty much a requirement for any smart home. With many options from a multitude of vendors, including low cost options, these will undoubtedly become more common. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy playing around with all the colors and effects offered by LIFX or Philips Hue bulbs?
Similar to lights, these can act as a “gateway” into the smart home world. However, these act more as way to upgrade your current "dumb" lights and other appliances into smart appliances at a fraction of the cost of buying the smart appliance itself (looking at you, WeMo)!
The rise of Spotify and other subscription cloud-based music streaming services have almost begged for the development of smart speakers. After all, how useful are speakers in your smart home if you can’t connect them to your preferred streaming methods? Go turn it up to 11 with a Sonos speaker or HomePod.
Making a recent surge in popularity (thanks to the new products by Nest, and Amazon’s acquisition of Ring) cameras, doorbells and security systems are some of the most useful smart home devices. They can alert you to any sounds/motion that happen when you're away, allow for live video streaming if you want to check up on your home, and cam even temporarily unlock your door for the delivery (wo)man if you don't want your package left outside.
If your home has a significant number of smart devices, as I imagine is the case for most people reading this blog, it is undoubtedly a hassle to control all these different devices with all of their different apps. That’s where smart hubs come in. These devices allow you to sync multiple devices to a single location for centralized control. Wink and SmartThings are the current leaders in this category.
Smart sensors are the natural next step in the smart home ecosystem after accumulating other IoT devices. These function similar to IFTTT, where a user can program a sensor to automatically react in a specific way to a specific stimuli, such as turning on the lights in a room when you enter, detecting a leak in your pipes before it becomes a problem, or opening the garage door when you pull into your driveway.
This one may not be as pervasive as some of the other devices mentioned here, but much like sensors SimpleCommands is the natural next step in the development of a smart home. It's not just a smart hub without the cost, it's a centralized control center. We allow users to control their smart homes (and more) from their watch and phone with seamless functionality between the two. Plus, our ever expanding list of connections makes SimpleCommands that much more useful every day!
This list is certainly not a one-size-fits-all for smart homes, and I’m not saying by any means that other smart devices are useless or that they cannot provide value for anyone. The IoT world is still a very segmented place, and a lot of industries are still figuring out exactly how to apply this game-changing technology to their products, especially when it comes to personal products. And just like any other industry, there will be winners and losers along the way. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the ride and see what crazy ideas companies and people come up with make our homes even smarter!