The word "smart" has been redefined in the last few years, at least within the home building and appliance world. One does not just buy a coffee machine nowadays, you buy a smart coffee machine, one cannot just buy a light bulb, it could be a smart light bulb etc. and to tell you the truth, I for one love it, and here's why:
Know the Unknown.
"You can just leave it" she says in a friendly robotic voice, leaving an equally friendly and yet bemused delivery person in a professional conundrum, listen to the talking doorbell or keep the parcel safe?
With products such as Nest Hello (Google's most recent take over) and RING (Amazon's competing product), your door bell is no longer just to alert you someone is at the door but is also there to act as a surveillance camera, remote notifier and personal assistant. My Nest camera has the ability to record, rewind and store footage of all on-goings outside my house, it can even learn to identify people so you know if there is 'stranger danger', or if it's just your Nan delivering biscuits.
On top of this, these doorbells can be used to communicate with the visitor, either by your own voice (a bit too human for the likes of me) or through a preset recording (the digital age personal touch...) i.e. "you can just leave it".
I personally think these door bells are a brilliant invention, killing two birds with one stone; acting as a surveillance device and a notification system that comes directly to my phone within seconds of a trigger.
Let there be Light.
One of the first and most useful products to hit the market that go a long way to making your house smart, are smart lights, these can be retrospectively fitted in your existing home i.e. Philips Hue or Ikea's own brand which are just bulbs that operate via voice (subject to the ownership of an AI) or phone. If you are building a new house or perhaps completing an intrusive refurbishment, you could install smart lighting from the switch, which is better for several reasons, but I will not delve. These lights are useful in the way they can be linked, for example I have linked 10 lights within my Kitchen which come on simultaneously via a very neat looking PIR, or the lights in my living room (3 lamps and 1 strip light) come on when I turn my TV on, not only this, they come on in different lighting scenes for different applications i.e. dimmed and red for Netflix. The lights can be programmed to come on and turn off at certain times, which is useful for things like security and sending the kids to bed!
Hotter (or Colder) the Better
Smart thermostats such as Nest (which work on the same App as the doorbell) and Hive are able to control your heating from your phone or voice (subject to ownership of an AI), when you are home, outside the house or even abroad! My Nest Thermostat senses me coming home from work and will automatically turn the heating on so the houses is nice and toasty when I get there.
Can you smell something Burning?
With products like Nest Aware (which is operated in the same app as the door bell and thermostat), you can be notified to your phone if your house is on fire or if there is a high level of carbon monoxide. It can even link to my wife's smart hearing aids to let her know just in case she is in the house and didn't hear the alarm going off.
The use of the smart Thermostats and Lights etc. etc. will inevitably save on running costs, as the heating will turn off when I leave home and as the lights are linked to the thermostat, the lights will also turn off. This is brilliant, as if the house is empty there is no need to warm that house up or light up the room for the cat. If we are not wasting heating and lighting we are ultimately saving everybody money on running costs.
I am big fan of the world Ikea and they have reinforced this by investing and understanding smart houses, even to the extent that they have electric blinds that can be operated either by your phone or voice! A timer can even be set so they come up and down throughout the day and night, which I think is brilliant not only for getting you out of bed, but for security, the hopefully naive burglar will see your blinds going up, and be deterred mistaking it for human intervention.
Did someone say tea o-clock.
Smart plugs either retrospective add on's or the wired in version (superior should you have the opportunity), are brilliant, we programmed our smart plug to turn on the kettle, which I personally think is something straight out of Star Trek!
Watch out for the cat sick.
Vacuum Cleaners, not just Vacuum Cleaners, ROBOT VACUUM CLEANERS. You can now tell your AI to clean the house and a small robot will vacuum clean a predetermined section of your house or all of your house (not quite mastered stairs without humans). A fantastic time saver in most cases and one more chore out of the way, but as per the title, watch our for cat sick, dog poo, or anything that shouldn't be on the floor as you may have just made your job 10 x harder as the vacuum cleaner could potentially spread it through your house!
The mother of genius, with all these smart home products coming to the market, Google, Amazon and to an extent Apple took full advantage. These devices control everything worth the title of smart, and these devices work exceptionally well! I can tell "Alexa" to show who's at my door, or turn on the kitchen lights or tell Neato to start cleaning and the list goes on and on. Not only this they come with brilliant music capabilities which link to Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify etc. These are truly brilliant devices that have taken the smart home market by storm!
If I want to collect data on how many times I leave the house, IFTTT will use devices such as the Nest Thermostat to record this in a useful excel document. Not only that IFTTT can link all of the above, the limit is your imagination (and technical ability) i.e. When my blinds roll up automatically, I want my kettle to turn on. Or I would like my lights to turn blue when it rains or send me an email every time a stranger knocks on the door and the list goes on and on and on.