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  • Matter: Revolutionizing Smart Homes with Interoperability and Simplicity

    Welcome to the era of smart homes, where technology seamlessly integrates with our daily lives, enhancing convenience and empowering individuals with newfound independence. One significant development transforming the landscape of smart homes is the emergence of Matter, a groundbreaking industry standard that is changing the way we create our smart homes. In this blog post, we will explore the world of Matter and delve into how it simplifies the smart home experience, promotes interoperability, and ensures enhanced security. What is Matter? Imagine a world where your smart lighting, locks, thermostats, and other devices from various manufacturers work effortlessly together, regardless of the platform you prefer. That’s precisely what Matter aims to achieve. Matter is an industry standard for smart home devices that enables seamless and secure connectivity among different products. It eliminates the need for consumers to choose between Amazon Alexa, Apple, Google, or other platforms when adding smart devices to their homes. Simplifying the Smart Home Experience One of the key advantages of Matter is its focus on simplicity. Setting up a smart home can be overwhelming, especially when devices from different manufacturers require separate apps and compatibility considerations. With Matter, the process becomes streamlined and user-friendly. Consumers can purchase Matter-compatible devices, confident that they will work harmoniously with each other, regardless of the brand or platform. This simplification makes smart home technology more accessible to a wider range of users, removing barriers to entry and encouraging adoption. Embracing Interoperability Interoperability lies at the heart of Matter’s significance in the smart home ecosystem. By adopting the Matter standard, manufacturers commit to ensuring their devices can communicate seamlessly with other Matter-certified products. This interoperability breaks down the barriers that previously hindered the integration of smart devices across different platforms. Whether you’re an Apple user with an iPhone or an Android enthusiast with a Google Pixel, Matter allows you to control all your smart home devices effortlessly, regardless of your chosen platform. Enhancing Security and Privacy As the number of connected devices increases, concerns about security and privacy become paramount. Matter addresses these concerns by prioritizing robust security protocols. With secure connectivity measures in place, Matter ensures that smart devices communicate with each other safely, protecting sensitive data and maintaining user privacy. This commitment to security provides peace of mind for homeowners, enabling them to embrace smart home technology without compromising their personal information. Conclusion: Matter represents a significant milestone in the evolution of smart homes. Its ability to unify devices from various manufacturers, promote simplicity, and prioritize security is reshaping the way we create our smart home ecosystems. With Matter, the dream of a seamlessly connected, interoperable, and user-friendly smart home becomes a reality. As we embrace this new standard, we open doors to endless possibilities, empowering individuals to enjoy the benefits of smart technology with unprecedented ease and convenience.

  • Smart Home Technology: A Game-Changer for Accessibility and Independence

    Smart home technology has rapidly transformed the way we live and interact with our homes. For people with accessability needs, this technological revolution holds immense potential for improving their independence. By integrating smart home automation and assistive technologies into living spaces, individuals can overcome various challenges, leading to a more comfortable and efficient lifestyle. This article will explore how smart home technology can enhance accessibility and discuss the benefits of using these innovative solutions. Smart Home Automation Smart home automation utilizes interconnected devices and systems to perform tasks automatically or via voice command, providing greater control over their environment. Some of the key smart home automation features that can improve accessibility are: Voice-Activated Assistants: Devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod can help people with mobility impairments or visual impairments to operate appliances, control lighting, and adjust thermostats, all through voice commands. These voice-activated assistants can also read out news, weather updates, and reminders, ensuring that users stay well-informed and organized. Smart Locks and Doorbells: For those with mobility or dexterity impairments, smart locks and doorbells can provide a more accessible solution for securing their homes. These devices can be controlled remotely via smartphone apps, and some models even offer voice activation and facial recognition features. Automated Lighting and Window Treatments: Smart lighting and window treatments can be programmed to adjust automatically based on the time of day, presence of occupants, or specific voice commands. This feature can be particularly helpful for individuals with mobility issues, as they can control lighting and window treatments without having to physically reach switches or pull cords. Assistive Technologies within Smart Homes In addition to smart home automation, assistive technologies can be integrated into smart homes to further enhance accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Some notable examples of these technologies include: Smart Appliances: Many modern appliances, such as ovens, washing machines, and refrigerators, now come with smart features that can be controlled remotely or through voice commands. These features can provide greater independence for individuals with disabilities by reducing the need for physical interactions with appliances. Assistive Robots: Robotics technology has progressed significantly in recent years, and assistive robots are now being designed to help people with disabilities perform daily tasks. From fetching items to providing physical support, these robots can significantly improve the quality of life for those who require assistance with various tasks. Benefits of Smart Home Technology The integration of smart home automation and assistive technologies can offer numerous benefits for people with accessibility or mobility needs, such as: Increased Independence: By automating various tasks and providing accessible control options, smart home technology can help individuals perform daily tasks more independently, reducing the need for assistance. Enhanced Safety: Smart home technology can improve safety by allowing users to monitor and control their home environment remotely. Features such as automated lighting, smart locks, and security cameras can help prevent accidents and provide a greater sense of security. Customizable Solutions: Smart home technology can be tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals, ensuring that their living environment is both accessible and comfortable. Smart home technology has the potential to significantly improve accessibility. By integrating smart home automation and assistive technologies, individuals can experience enhanced independence, safety, and overall quality of life. As technology continues to advance we can expect even more innovative solutions to emerge that will further empower people and create more inclusive living spaces. By embracing and investing in smart home technology, society can move closer to ensuring that all individuals have the same opportunities for independence, comfort, and security. As these technologies continue to advance, the possibilities for improving accessibility and enhancing lives are seemingly endless.

  • Culinary Genius: Designing the Ultimate Smart Kitchen

    Unleashing the Power of Technology for a Seamless Cooking Experience The kitchen is the heart of the home – a place where we gather, create, and nourish ourselves and our loved ones. But with the rapid advancements in technology, the traditional kitchen is evolving into something even more extraordinary: the smart kitchen. These cutting-edge spaces are designed to make our culinary experiences more efficient and enjoyable. In this blog post, we'll delve into the world of smart kitchens, exploring the essential features and appliances you need to turn your cooking space into a culinary genius. Smart Appliances The Core of the Smart KitchenThe foundation of any smart kitchen is its appliances, which are equipped with the latest technology to streamline the cooking process. Here are some must-have smart appliances for the ultimate smart kitchen: Smart Refrigerator: These refrigerators can track your groceries' expiration dates, suggest recipes based on your current inventory, and even reorder items when you're running low. Some models even come with built-in cameras, allowing you to see what's inside without opening the door. Smart Oven: With features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, remote control, and temperature probes, smart ovens take the guesswork out of cooking. They can automatically adjust cooking times and temperatures based on the type of dish, ensuring that your meals come out perfectly every time. Smart Cooktop: These innovative cooktops offer precise temperature control, allowing you to cook your food to perfection. With features like built-in timers, automatic shut-off, and compatibility with smart pots and pans, smart cooktops bring a new level of convenience to your cooking experience. Smart Dishwasher: Smart dishwashers can be controlled remotely, allowing you to start or stop a cycle from anywhere using your smartphone. They also monitor water usage and can detect when a load is finished, optimizing energy and water consumption. Voice-Activated Assistants: Your Personal Sous Chef Voice-activated assistants, such as Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant can be invaluable in the smart kitchen. These devices can help you with recipe suggestions, measurement conversions, and setting timers, all without you having to lift a finger. They can also control your smart appliances and lighting, making your cooking experience seamless and hands-free. Smart Lighting: Setting the Mood for Cooking Smart lighting can enhance the ambiance in your kitchen, while also improving functionality. With adjustable color temperatures and brightness levels, smart lighting systems can be customized to suit your mood or the task at hand. Whether you need bright lighting for meal prep or a softer glow for dining, smart lighting can be controlled via voice command or a smartphone app, allowing you to create the perfect atmosphere with ease.Intelligent Storage Solutions: Maximizing Space and Organization A well-organized kitchen is essential for efficient cooking. Smart storage solutions can help you make the most of your available space while keeping your kitchen clutter-free. Smart does not always mean electro or Wi-Fi connected. Consider incorporating features like pull-out pantries, and adjustable cabinetry that can be easily reconfigured as your storage needs change. Seamless Integration: Bringing It All Together For a truly smart kitchen, it's essential that all of your devices and appliances communicate with each other. This can be achieved through a centralized home automation system or a compatible smart home ecosystem like Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant. Seamless integration allows you to control and monitor all aspects of your kitchen, from lighting to appliances, using a single app or voice command. Designing the ultimate smart kitchen requires careful consideration of your needs, preferences, and budget. By incorporating cutting-edge appliances, voice-activated assistants, smart lighting, intelligent storage solutions, and seamless integration, you can create a culinary masterpiece that not only makes cooking a breeze but also elevates your entire home experience. With technology at your fingertips, you'll be able to unleash your inner chef, creating delicious meals with ease. The smart kitchen of the future is here, and it's time to embrace the convenience, efficiency, and innovation that it offers. So go ahead, transform your kitchen and discover a whole new world of cooking possibilities!

  • The Smart Home Revolution: Transforming the Real Estate Market

    The integration of smart home technology into the fabric of our daily lives has brought about significant changes to the real estate market. As more people adopt these technological innovations, smart homes have become an essential factor in determining home values and influencing buyer preferences. This article delves into the impact of smart home technology on the real estate market and how it is shaping the future of property investments. Smart Home Technology: An Overview Smart home technology refers to a range of interconnected devices and systems that automate and optimize various aspects of a household, including lighting, heating, security, and entertainment. The widespread adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as smart thermostats, security cameras, and voice assistants, has made it possible for homeowners to monitor, control, and automate their living spaces remotely. Impact on Home Values Smart home technology has a noticeable influence on home values, as buyers increasingly seek properties equipped with the latest technology. Homes with smart features tend to sell at a premium compared to those without such amenities. Smart home devices, such as smart thermostats and lighting systems, can help homeowners reduce energy consumption and save on utility bills. As a result, energy-efficient homes are in high demand and command higher prices. The ability to control various home systems remotely or through automation can significantly improve a homeowner's quality of life. Buyers are often willing to pay a little more for homes that offer these conveniences. Smart home security systems, including cameras and alarms, can provide an added layer of protection for homeowners. As safety becomes a priority, buyers are more inclined to invest in homes with advanced security features. Changing Buyer Preferences Americans indicated that they were more interested in adding smart home features or devices to their residences As smart home technology becomes more accessible and affordable, buyer preferences in the real estate market are evolving. According to a study by "Americans indicated that they were more interested in adding smart home features or devices to their residences". As smart home technology becomes mainstream, homebuyers are increasingly prioritizing properties that come equipped with the latest smart devices and systems. For some buyers, a well-integrated smart home system can even outweigh other traditional factors, such as location and square footage, in the decision-making process. Smart home technology allows for a high degree of customization and personalization, enabling homeowners to tailor their living spaces to their unique needs and preferences. As a result, buyers are seeking properties that offer flexibility and adaptability, making it easier for them to incorporate smart home technology into their daily routines. With the growing awareness of environmental issues, many buyers are also attracted to properties that incorporate smart home technology to promote energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. Sustainable features, such as solar panels, energy storage systems, and smart irrigation systems, are becoming increasingly important to environmentally conscious buyers. The Role of Real Estate Professionals As smart home technology continues to reshape the real estate market, the role of real estate professionals is also evolving. Agents and brokers need to stay abreast of the latest smart home trends and become knowledgeable about various devices and systems to better serve their clients. Additionally, they may need to collaborate with smart home technology experts and vendors to ensure that properties are marketed effectively and that they can accurately showcase their smart features during an open house for example. The Future of Smart Homes and Real Estate The influence of smart home technology on the real estate market is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years. As more buyers prioritize smart features, developers and builders are beginning to incorporate smart home technology as a standard offering in new construction projects. Furthermore, existing homeowners may consider upgrading their properties with smart devices to enhance their marketability and improve their chances of securing a higher selling price. In conclusion, the rise of smart home technology has had a profound impact on the real estate market. With the potential to increase home values and reshape buyer preferences, smart homes are becoming an essential consideration for both buyers and sellers. As technology continues to advance, real estate professionals must adapt to this new landscape and stay informed about the latest innovations to better serve their clients. As we look to the future, it's clear that smart homes will play an increasingly important role in shaping the real estate market and transforming the way we live.

  • Why should you upgrade your home?

    Smart home technology has come a long way in recent years, offering more advanced and user-friendly solutions than ever before. In this blog post, we'll explore the top 5 benefits of smart home technology, showcasing how these innovative systems can enhance your daily life while saving you time, money, and energy. Convenience Simplify Your Life with Automation. One of the most significant benefits of smart home technology is the convenience it brings to your everyday life. By automating various tasks around your home, you can save time and effort while enjoying a seamless living experience. Some examples of convenience offered by smart home systems include: Voice-controlled lighting, appliances, and entertainment systems Automated temperature control, adjusting to your preferences throughout the day Remote access to your home, allowing you to monitor and control systems while away Security Protect Your Home and Loved Ones. Smart home technology can provide unparalleled security for your home and loved ones. By incorporating smart security systems into your living space, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are taking the necessary steps to protect your property and family. Some key security features of smart homes include: Smart door locks that can be remotely controlled, ensuring your home is secure at all times Surveillance cameras that can be accessed and monitored via your smartphone or other devices Motion sensors and smart alarms that notify you of any unusual activity Energy Efficiency Save the Environment and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. Adopting smart home technology can significantly contribute to energy efficiency and help reduce your carbon footprint. By optimizing the energy consumption of your appliances and systems, you can not only save money on utility bills but also play a part in conserving the environment. Here are some ways smart home technology can enhance energy efficiency: Smart thermostats that learn your preferences and adjust the temperature accordingly, minimizing energy wastage Energy monitoring systems that provide real-time data on your energy consumption, helping you identify areas where you can reduce usage Automated lighting systems that turn off lights when rooms are unoccupied or adjust brightness based on natural light levels Cost Savings Lower Your Monthly Expenses. Incorporating smart home technology can lead to significant cost savings in the long run. By automating and optimizing various aspects of your home, you can reduce your monthly expenses and enjoy a more budget-friendly lifestyle. Some examples of cost savings associated with smart home technology include: Reduced energy bills due to optimized heating, cooling, and lighting systems Potential insurance discounts for homes equipped with advanced security systems Lower maintenance costs as smart devices can often self-diagnose issues and alert you to potential problems Enhanced Accessibility and Comfort Catering to Diverse Needs. Smart home technology can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities or elderly residents by providing tailored solutions that cater to their specific needs. These innovative systems can greatly enhance accessibility, independence, and overall comfort within the home. Some examples of how smart home technology can benefit individuals with diverse needs include: Voice-activated controls for lighting, appliances, and entertainment systems, allowing for hands-free operation Automated door and window openers, making it easier to navigate through the home without physical effort Remote monitoring and alert systems that can notify caregivers or family members of any emergencies or specific needs By incorporating smart home technology that focuses on accessibility and comfort, homeowners can create a more inclusive living environment that supports the needs of all residents, promoting a higher quality of life and increased independence. Investing in smart home technology offers a multitude of benefits, including convenience, security, energy efficiency, accessibility, and cost savings. By automating and optimizing various aspects of your living space, you can enjoy a more comfortable and eco-friendly lifestyle while saving time and money. If you're considering upgrading your home, now is the perfect time to explore the advantages of smart home technology and experience the transformation it can bring to your everyday life.

  • Taking your smart home to the next level

    An entry level look at using scenes and automations to elevate your smart home experience. What Can Scenes and Automations Do For Me? First let's talk about scenes, they allow you to control lots of accessories at one time. Think of something you do often that has the same sequence of events each time. For example, let's start with when you wake up. Do you repeat the same steps every day? Stop the alarm clock, turn on the bedroom light, open the blinds, turn on the bathroom light, start your favorite morning playlist. Well these are all things that can be done with a scene. You can create a scene called "Good Morning" and have all of those actions happen at once. How about when you go to bed? Do you turn off the lights, and I mean walk around the whole house and turn off all the lights. Then you lock the door, close the blinds, turn off the TV and so on and so on. You get the idea. Now what if you want these things to happen without any input from you? That's where we get into automations. Today we will talk about creating useful scenes around the house and how to create convenient automations to make them happen. Adding a Scene Depending on your smart home setup, how you create a scene will vary. Some apps will start with a basic collection of devices & actions and simply call this a scene while others may add more options a refer to it as a routine. Creating a scene only requires a few steps. First you group together the devices you want to control, then you set the actions you want them to take. You’ll name the scene and then be able to activate it in a number of ways. Take a look at these step by step guides on creating scenes for Apple and Samsung devices. How to create a Scene in the Apple Home App How to create a Scene with Samsung SmartThings Automating Scenes & Creating Routines Automations are a great way to really elevate the smart home experience. They can activate an entire scene or just a single accessory. An automation involves a trigger, sometimes a condition or multiple conditions that need to be met, and then an action or set of actions to take. Triggering an automation can be done in a number of ways. These are a few popular ways to do so: sensor based, like a door sensor or motion sensor; time based, including events like sunrise or sunset; and location based, when arriving to or leaving a location you specify. An easy automation to setup is having your lights turn on at sunset. Something more complex may involve turning on the lights when your front door opens, but only if nobody is in the living room, and only if it is after 4 pm but before 9 pm. These are just a couple of examples on how to use an automation. As you start to build automations yourself you will see more advanced options. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to what your smart home can do. Here are a few links to get you started creating automations and routines on your devices. How to create an Automation in the Apple Home App How to create a Routine with Samsung SmartThings How to create a Routine with Alexa How to create a Routine with Google Now that we've covered how to create scenes & routines you may be wondering what can this really do other than turn on some light bulbs. This is where the smart home really gets fun and more practical. A great automation I use daily is locking the door and turning off all the lights when I leave for work in the mornings. I don't always leave at the same time so having this automation run based on my location is a very handy feature. In addition, this only happens if nobody else is home. If anyone else is still home then the automation won't run. When I arrive home the door automatically unlocks as I approach. When I open the door, if nobody is in the living room and the lights are off, they will turn on. Another easy automation to setup is having your lights turn on at sunset. Something more complex would be like my example of turning on the lights when your front door opens, but only if nobody is in the living room, and you can add conditions like only if it is after 4 pm but before 9 pm. Smart lights are usually LED and they seemed expensive when I first started. Looking back and thinking about it now though, it's a bargain considering I've only had to replace one light bulb in the past 8 years. To be honest it didn't even burn out, it would still turn on or off with the light switch, but it no longer connected to wifi so I replaced it with a newer one. There is still something futuristic about waking up in the morning and tapping one button or speaking a simple voice command to start my day. A Good Morning routine can turn on the lights, start the shower at your preferred temperature, open the blinds, have the weather displayed on your tv, your calendar events and appointments announced, and so much more. Adding scenes or automations to your smart home setup is one of the first steps in getting the most out of your home. Hopefully this has helped you to understand the usefulness and practicality of adding these tools into your setup. Thanks for reading and comment your questions or thoughts down below. Feel free to suggest future topics, we'd love to hear what you want to know more about.

  • Matter will change the way we think about smart homes

    This new industry standard will change the world of IoT for the better. So, What is Matter? If you have any smart home devices now, or have shopped for any new tech recently, you may already be familiar with the hassle of getting everything to work together seamlessly. Especially if you want to do so all in one app. Maybe you want a Google Nest thermostat but want to use an iPhone. Or perhaps you want Philips lighting and want a Eufy security camera. Trying to figure out if all the different devices will work together in one app will soon be a thing of the past. Matter is a new internet of things, smart home industry standard. This will shift the way we think of the current smart home. No longer will we need to buy products based on what platform they support or what other devices they are compatible with. You will soon be able to shop with confidence for your new smart home tech. Buying a product with Matter certification will ensure that it will just work with nearly any platform you want to use. All the major players are in on this standard too. Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, and hundreds of others have joined forces under the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) to set the bar for smart home compatibility. When will this be available? Most of the work has already been completed. In fact many devices that are out now already have the hardware or software needed. There are some final steps in the works to get this standard implemented and bring even more certified products to the everyday consumer. Like with any project of this scale there have been delays and obstacles to overcome. The latest news puts the expected release in the fall of this year. The first version of this standardization includes the following types of products: Lighting Lightbulbs Lighting controllers Light switches Outlets Smart Plugs Smart Outlets Heating and Cooling Thermostats HVAC Controllers Security & Safety Door locks Motion Sensors Contact Sensors Smoke Detectors / CO Detectors Convenience Garage Door Controllers Window Blinds & Shades Networking Wireless Access Points Bridges Media Streaming Video Players Smart Televisions With so many types of devices already planned, this is stacking up to be a very exciting change. Future updates to the standard will likely include even more categories such as robot vacuum cleaners, surveillance cameras, and lots more. For now this is a great start to unifying the smart home. Will I have to buy all new devices? Fortunately many manufacturers have committed to firmware or software updates to bring Matter to existing devices. Unfortunately we won't know the definitive answer to this until it happens. The CSA has done a lot of work to ensure backward compatibility. Most devices that support Thread, or Zigbee will work with Matter without any issues. As for other devices, there will likely be hubs or inexpensive bridges that can bring them into the Matter ecosystem. This new push for standardization is a huge deal for the smart home industry. No single company or group in the past has been able to gather this many platforms, manufacturers, and technologies into one consolidated alliance. There are over 200 members involved and you can check out the full list here. What about Security & Privacy? These are two features at the foundation of how Matter works. It uses the following 7 powerful techniques to ensure a secure ecosystem: Validation of Device Authenticity and Certification User Consent Local Device Identity Control Rules Encrypted Communications Privacy Controls Secure Software Updates These steps are used on all matter devices. From light bulbs to thermostats, they take the industry best practices to the next level. This provides peace of mind and ease of use. You can rest assured that your home is not only smart, but secure. Check out this video to dig deeper into the security & privacy behind Matter. Will it be expensive? Surprisingly, no. This should actually make upgrading your home more affordable than ever. Due to the vast amount of products that will be available (Over 5 billion by 2030), the abundance of options should drive down the cost of newer smart home tech. In addition there are so many inexpensive devices out there now that are already compatible. Smart home tech will soon be more available and easier to use than ever before. Should I wait to buy new tech? This is a tricky question. Many major companies have devoted a lot of time and resources to this standard and will very likely stay true to their promises. That being said, buying hardware now based on future software promises is always a risk. Some things may seem like a safe bet, the whole standard is based on protocols like Zigbee and Thread, so if you purchase devices with those technologies you'd expect them to work with no problem. Even that is not 100% true for all manufacturers. Some companies may not see the value in updating their existing lineup. So be cautious when on the hunt for some new home tech. Ultimately, if you are set on a current platform and are happy, stick with it. No need to wait on matter if you have no use for the interoperability of the standard. On the other hand if you have roommates on different platforms or you are upgrading your rental property and want the widest possible array of compatibility. Maybe you are ready to build out a complete smart home and you don't want to be stuck in a single platform or ecosystem. Then this standard will definitely 'Matter" to you and it is probably worth the wait. As always thanks for reading! We look forward to your questions or comments. Keep an eye out for updates on this as we expect some news on the release within the next few months.

  • A Smart Start

    The beginner's guide to starting a smart home. What makes a home "smart"? Step into the kitchen, the lights turn on. Leave your house and the door locks automatically. Say out loud that you are cold and the heat kicks on. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what a modern smart home can do. Believe it or not, setting all this up can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Smart home is generic term that includes all types of living situations. Do you rent an apartment, live in a condo, or a townhome? No worries, they are just as easy to upgrade so this guide is for you too. The modern smart home usually consists of everyday devices like light bulbs or door locks, but with the addition of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for control. The most basic smart home allows you to control these devices with your smart phone or even your voice. As you get more involved, your devices begin to control each other based on certain things. A motion sensor can trigger a light bulb. Your smart phone can tell your door lock that you have left for the day. A contact sensor can tell if a window opens and then turn off the AC. We will give you a few examples and explanations of how all this can happen. Let's dive in! Where do I start? Most would say that the foundation to a great smart home is solid wireless network. And I would definitely agree. Most of your new devices will likely talk to each other through your home Wi-Fi. You don't have to be a networking genius to setup a Wi-Fi network. Most of you reading this already have home Wi-Fi, and for your first smart home devices, you may not need to change anything. If you have a larger home or plan on building out a more complete smart home, then upgrading to a mesh network is likely your best choice. This will be able to handle the higher number of devices, and provide more coverage for a larger home or one with multiple stories. I recently upgraded to the Eero Pro 6 (2 Pack) personally and I have really enjoyed the extended coverage and fast speeds. So, you already have Wi-Fi, what's next? Another deciding factor in the beginning stages of setting up a smart home is choosing your favorite platform or voice assistant. Having all your new devices play nicely together makes setting up much easier. Do you use Android devices or Apple? Do you prefer Google over Alexa? These are things you may want to think of when you start adding devices to your home. In the near future this won't matter nearly as much but more on that later. Once you’ve decided on a system to go with, then it’s time for the fun part. Lighting Smart lights are one of the most common starting points. It can be as simple as changing a light bulb. Yes, really! If you know how to scan a QR code, or type in a Wi-Fi password, then you are pretty well equipped to outfit your home with smart lights. Most of the time that's the extent of what you need to know. Beyond the initial setup, there are a lot of extras like motion sensors, scenes, and automations that can take the lights to another level. That can all be added when you're ready. Some lights will connect directly to your network, and some lights will connect to a hub that plugs in to your router. These each have their pros and cons but overall accomplish the same task, light control that extends beyond a simple on or off wall switch. Are you looking for convenience or entertainment with your lighting? Maybe both; some lights can simply turn on or off and others can illuminate a room with any color of the rainbow and sync to your music. Here are a couple suggestions to get you started. The Nanoleaf Essentials A19 bulb will pair directly to your wifi, they offer full color, and are a very inexpensive way to start your smart home. Philips Hue sells several starter packs that contain four bulbs and the necessary hub to get them connected. One is multi-color and the other is white lighting only. Security Adding a few cameras or smart door locks to your home setup is a great next step. This will add some convenience and peace of mind to your setup. Many smart locks simply replace the inside portion of a common dead bolt. This can be done in most cases with a screwdriver, usually 2 screws, and about 15 minutes. One of my favorites is the August Lock. I've been using this lock for over 5 years now and it's still working great. Check out this link to shop some of the latest security devices by August and Yale. Some of my favorite cameras are made by Eufy. They offer support for multiple platforms, and their cameras have great resolution. Not to mention they are very easy to setup. Here are a couple I would recommend. The Indoor Pan & Tilt, I personally own several of these and highly recommended them because they are so affordable! Next is the Outdoor 360º Floodlight Pro for a complete picture of what's happening around your home, day or night. Taking Control There are so many other categories of devices you could add. We could go on for days with each type of device but we will stop at lighting and security for now. Hopefully that will give you an idea of what direction you’re headed in. Now it’s time to think about how you want to control everything. There are a lot of ways to control your smart home, we're going to talk about three popular options. Smart phone or tablet, voice control, and a smart display. First, you could take out your smart phone. Most phones have a native app for home control built in like Google Home or the Apple Home app. They offer a simple way to manage your devices all in one place. There are also the third party apps for each of the devices you have installed. Opening different apps for each device can be a bit cumbersome so many people opt for voice control. Install a smart speaker or a device with your favorite voice assistant built in and announce your commands out loud. Alexa, dim the lights. Hey Google, lock the door. Or hey Siri, set the bedroom lights to blue. Voice control is one of my favorite methods of home control. Now lets talk about smart displays like the Nest Home Hub, or the Echo Show. These are great options of you want to use voice control but also want a visual reference to actually see what's going on. These also have the added benefit of saying things like,"Alexa show me my front door" to see a view of your video doorbell or any other camera in your home setup for that matter. Or Hey Google, show me how to make cookies on YouTube. All that being said, how you control your home will ultimately be a personal preference. And you aren't limited to just one method. As you get further into the smart home world you will see the possibilities are endless and the options can be overwhelming. It's important to remember if you are just getting started to relax, think about what you want to control, and how you want to control it. Start small and get a feel for how the tech can make your life easier. Once you are comfortable with that, start adding scenes to control multiple devices at one time, or automations to make things happen without any input. These are all topics we will discuss in much more detail in future guides, so stay tuned. For now, I hope this has helped to further your understanding of how to start making your home smarter. Let me know what you think, or if you have questions, drop them down in the comments section. Until next time, thanks for reading!

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