Have a Merry Connected Christmas
By David Webster, RGB’s Chief Technology Officer
– Thursday 1st December 2016
IoT (Internet of Things) connected devices can achieve some astonishing things for an entry level system and they will help build the future business pipeline for our pro custom installers…
There are now a significant number of smarthome products that can easily connect together to create a more convenient, safer and secure home. Most are DIY and available at affordable prices making this the perfect entry level for consumers (and generate future business by priming their expectations of what an upgrade to a full custom installation could do for them).
Using IoT technology, these products connect to each other via the cloud. Replacing complex setup and programming with simple configuring to achieve new levels of integration and automation!
Let’s start with Nest: You can install the Nest Learning Thermostat to save energy and increase thermal comfort, Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for improved safety, or Nest Cam indoors or Nest Cam Outdoors for added security. The Nest devices can tell when you’re home or away and since they work with a vast amount of products from the official “Works with Nest” range, you can start to develop your connected home…
Add Philips Hue smart LED lamps: Connect with Nest so that when Nest notices the house is empty, your Hue lights can turn off to save energy. If your Nest Cam sees someone in an Activity Zone (like the back door) your hue lights can switch on to scare off intruders. And when you’re on holiday, your lights can automatically switch on and off randomly so it looks like you’re at home. As well as this, when Nest Protect senses smoke or carbon monoxide, your Hue lights can blink red to warn you and your family that there’s danger! Philips Hue lamps can also be set to gently wake you up by slowly fading on like an alarm making it easy to see and wake up in the morning.
Add Wemo plugin power switches: Off when you’re out, On when you’re home. Save energy when the house is empty. Or your plugin lights (table and floor lamps, xmas tree lights, etc.) can automatically turn on when you walk in the front door. Maybe use the Wemo app to set schedules, monitor energy consumption, and even randomise your lighting schedule to bamboozle weak-minded burglars (just like the kid from “Home Alone”).
Controlling lots of connected devices with one or more apps on your phone or tablet is great fun but not always the most convenient. Sometimes all you really need is a wall switch, or a remote control handset. For example the new Logitech Pop push button (a Bluetooth wireless device) opens your smarthome to everyone. It can be configured with up to three custom commands (push, double-push, push and hold) to control Hue smart lighting, Sonos music, and much more. For example stick one on the wall by the room door to easily turn off everything in the room as you leave.
But my favourite interactions with connected homes is through voice commands. It really feels like you’re living in the future! So now that the Amazon Echo and Dot are available in the UK, Nest owners can say things like “Alexa, set my hallway to 22 degrees” and Hue owners can say “Alexa, turn off all Hue lights” or “dim living room to 50 percent” to set your Hue lights from the sofa to watch a movie – all without lifting a finger!
Alexa can also learn other new Skills. So soon in 2017 you’ll be able to say “Alexa, tell the thermostat that I’m too hot.” Or ask about the temperature and humidity. Or choose music to play on your Sonos system. Or even tell it that you’re leaving.
For the more enthusiastic DIY “Connectsmith” consider adding the Logitech Harmony universal home remote control that will soon have an Alexa skill to voice control AV equipment, or Samsung SmartThings hub, sensors and devices to monitor, schedule and automate even more. (Via a variety of IP, ZigBee and Z-Wave devices).
Perhaps though you are more DIFM (Do It For Me) than DIY? In that case the professionally installed Savant Pro Remote system is for you! Surely this is the ultimate choice in luxury home automation. It gives you control of all your entertainment, lighting, and climate, from a compact, elegant touch screen remote control or a single App. Team a Savant control system with a Lutron Homeworks QS lighting control system to add the very best experience of whole home lighting and motorized window shading. Once installed, you can have fun setting up your personal “favourite scenes” to recall at will or by an automated schedule. (Even existing HomeworksQS systems can be upgraded to control Nest Thermostats and be voice controlled by Alexa with the Lutron Connect Bridge).
TIP: There are a growing number of smart devices available to buy but many are “island solutions” i.e. they do one or two jobs only and don’t connect well with others. For now these are probably best avoided in favour of devices that are certified as “Works with Nest” or “Works with Alexa” etc., but be aware that even these products may not always offer all the functionality you might have expected!
Have fun with all these new toys and I wish you a Merry Connected Christmas!