From lightbulbs to doorbells and even toilets, it seems technology is coming into every part of our home these days. But do we really need all the technology? Does it really help? Well, the answer is yes and no.
The one smarthome technology we recommend you avoid in Canada though? The smart lock for your door. Unless you’re okay calling a locksmith in the dead of February to get it opened. This is the one piece of smart home tech I’ve had fail on my own house and heard some tales of woe from friends and the locksmith who fixed mine one -10C day in January. Which as Canadians, we know isn’t that cold.
There is some useful smart home technology though. And some of it is just fun, such as luminous panels you can arrange in a pattern on a wall and have it change colours from your smartphone. The Nanoleaf panels are cool and can be used with Siri or Google voice control.
More useful is smarthome thermostats and smoke detectors like Nest makes, which is owned by Google. Some of them can also detect carbon monoxide and instead of using a shrill alarm, also uses a voice to alert you, which is surprisingly proven to be more effective at getting our attention!
On the lighter side you can also get a slow cooker that you can control from your phone as well and keep an eye on when you’re at work. Crock-Pot makes one. While colour changing lightbulbs may seem a luxury, many can be controlled through a smarthome hub. Which brings us to how to get all this stuff working.
You’ll eventually need some sort of hub if you have or buy multiple devices. That means an Alexa from Amazon, Apple Home Speaker, Google Home or a Tradfri Gateway from Ikea. Which also begs the question of which system is better? Some argue Ikea is better because it connects a lot of things or you can buy a number of other ones. If you’re a home with a lot of Apple products already, then go for the Home Speaker, it has great sound quality and connects everything nicely. If you’re big into Windows and Android, maybe Google or Alexa is the one. All pretty much work the same with Apple and Ikea being slightly more reliable.
But do you need all this new technology? It comes down to a lifestyle choice. A lot of these devices are fairly glitchy today and it can be complicated to set things up. Most items are in the trendy range. Think of things that will make your life easier.
Recently, Google, Apple and Amazon all agreed to work on a standard for devices talking to each other. Remember VHS versus betamax in the 80’s? Exactly! This should help more innovation in the future. So do some research, maybe start with a smart thermostat and go from there!
More Insights: Check out our list of the top travel tech for travellers in 2020!
Author: Giles Crouch is the group publisher for HUM@Nmedia, the parent brand for Silver Magazine. He is also a design anthropologist and works at the intersection of humans and technology.