The smart home concept is not new. For a long time, we have wanted our houses to be able to interact with us and learn our routines and habits. Countless times we have found ourselves dreaming of living in a house like Ironman and having a robotic butler, like Jarvis. The smart home industry is growing and growing at a really fast rate. With startups launching from time to time, the big guns of technology have finally started to take an interest. We are in a very interesting time where we would soon be living in houses that do most of our work for us.

Although the idea of ​​having an AI butler like Jarvis may be too far-fetched for now, it is not entirely impossible and may even be achieved in the near future. What we can do until then is “upgrade” our homes to get the best of what we have available.

Here are some of the things you can do to make your home smarter:

Get a hub

Being surrounded by technology is incredible. The newest technology enters our homes every day and helps us automate daily tasks. If the goal of automation is to simplify our lives, why does it feel so complicated? This is where smart hubs come into play.

Smart hubs are devices that act as bridges between you and your smart devices. These are basically pieces of hardware that plug into your home network and can then be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world. What smart centers hope to achieve is simplicity by providing you with a platform that controls all your smart devices.

With the currently limited but expanding smart home market, there are a variety of smart hubs you can choose from. Popular ones include Wink’s Wink Home Hub, Icontrol Networks’ Piper NM, Insteon’s Insteon Hub, and Samsung’s SmartThings Hub.

Choosing a personal assistant

Admit it, the idea of ​​having a personal assistant is great, albeit digital. I have had a lot of fun with them. And trust me, they have helped me get out of a lot of difficult situations. Although, when it comes to personal assistants related to the smart home realm, there isn’t much to choose from. Alexa has been the top choice for most users. But what makes Alexa so special?

It seems to me that Amazon’s mission is to be at the heart of every smart home. Unlike other personal digital assistants, Alexa easily integrates with most smart home devices like Nest, Wemo, Philips Hue, etc. and it even works with Ifttt to automate these devices.

Alexa may have won everyone’s hearts, but serious competition is brewing with Google acting as the spearhead. Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo came in the form of the Google Home, a speaker equipped with the recently updated Google Assistant. Apple also did the same by updating Apple HomeKit in its new iOS 10 update. There is also the possibility of a new personal assistant called Cubic ai, which may be around the corner but is not yet available.

Get smart plugs, maybe?

If you’re always short on cash like I am, then the prices (of most, if not some) of these smart devices may have been a bit shocking to you. This is where inexpensive smart plugs come in.

Although the idea of ​​a plug being smart may sound quirky to you, these rugged little gadgets turn your otherwise unintelligent device into (yes, you’re right) a smart one. This arduous feat is accomplished simply by having the smart plugs connect to the internet, from where they can be controlled via an app provided by the provider.

Some of the more popular smart plugs include the D-Link Wireless Smart Plug, the Panasonic Home Monitor Plug, the TP-Link Smart Plug, and the WeMo Switch.

Turning on the best lights

So what is the first thing that comes to mind when you read the words: smart lights? Is it a light that turns on by itself when you walk into a room? Or is it a light that has daylight saving capabilities? Yes, smart lights can do this, as well as dim and light, be controlled wirelessly, and change color based on your mood.

In the world of smart home products, one name has become synonymous with smart lights and that is Philips Hue. Other popular smart lights are the Color Lifx, the Cree Connected LED Bulb, and the Belkin Wemo LED.

Update your thermostat

Smart thermostats are quite popular. They offer so much more than their traditional counterparts that it’s safe to say they should be a part of every home. In addition to saving you a great deal of money, smart thermostats offer greater control over your home’s internal climate. Some smart thermostats are equipped with sensors that let them know when you go in and out so you don’t burn your home by leaving the heater on. They also implement fuzzy logic, so your air conditioner doesn’t fail. They can also learn your routine patterns and adjust your home temperature accordingly, providing you with a warm bed when you return home from work. Popular smart thermostats include the Nest, Ecobee 3, Honeywell WiFi Thermostat, and Sensi Smart Thermostat.

Staying safe, the smart way

One of the main reasons to consider the smart home approach is the depth of security it adds to your home. Features like motion detection, automatic smoke and water sensors can increase the security of your home exponentially. Other features, like humidity sensors and temperature sensors, could be what your conventional security systems simply couldn’t offer. Smart security systems give you control of all your security devices in one place and can also be changed remotely via an app on your smartphone or computer.

What kills your standard security system is automatic notification and live video streaming services, which allow you to access and stay informed about your home at any time and from anywhere in the world. Vivint Smart Home, iSmartAlarm, and LiveWatch Plug and Protect are some of the best when it comes to smart home security systems.

Investing in a smart home security system may not be the best idea if you live in a small apartment. Smart cameras like the Nest Camera, Withings Home, or Netgear Arlo may be a better option. These cameras have motion detection and can also be broadcast live. They also have a variety of different sensors that are ideal for a small space.

Take full control

I remember the days when I used to have five remote controls in my house, one for the TV, one for the VCR, and the other three. I don’t even know why. Over the years, the technology has developed so much that most of our devices can be controlled from our smartphones. No more cables, no more cables and switches to worry about. You feel cold? Raise the temperature a bit by asking Siri or Alexa to do it? You could even automate your devices for some events, for example a knock on the door triggers a sensor which in turn sends you a notification about it. Even if you don’t have Siri or Alexa, you can still use third-party apps to control your smart devices or just use the apps provided by the vendor for that product.

Extra: The DIY approach to a smart home

Most people are afraid to use an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi. The fact that many of the smart devices available today started out as Arduino or Raspberry Pi is amazing. You can do a lot with these small but powerful devices.

For example, you can build your own GardenBot, an open source garden monitoring system. If you’re not afraid of a challenge, then you’ll want to visit the Instructable website. There are many DIYs related to Arduino and Raspberry Pi that will help you create simple but effective smart devices using multiple sensors. They may not have the look of a branded device, but they will still be good enough to work and that’s on a budget too.

You can even use littleBits. littleBits is an award-winning, easy-to-use electronic building block platform. You can choose from a variety of blocks and use them to make your own inventions.

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