GroovyTek | Personal Technology Training

Getting Smart: Making Your Home Work for You

Getting control of your home can feel frustrating. There are so many ways to make your life easier, but where can you even start? If it’s complicated, maybe there isn’t a point. Sure, you can ask Alexa what the weather’s going to be like. But what if she starts listening in on your kids and letting them order hundreds of dollars in toys? 

You’ve probably heard lots of hype about artificial intelligence assistants. And just like every other buzzword, it’s been both exciting and concerning. There’s so much to think about! How can you even start by transforming your home into a ‘smart home’? Ring doorbells, smart thermostats, Alexa, Google Assistant… everyone wants you to buy their product. You might be concerned about their capabilities, price, setup, privacy, and more. 

Ring doorbells, an effective and easy home security measure, are a great place to start. When you leave home for a long vacation, or even if you’re just at work, it’s easy to worry about your home. What if someone tries to break in? Or you might have a delivery coming—what if someone tries to steal your packages? Your options used to be limited. You could stay home or ask a neighbor to keep an eye out. After that, all you could do was hope for the best. With Ring doorbells, you can enjoy peace of mind. 

Ring doorbells are the equivalent of a video camera connected to your smartphone. You can see who’s at your front door from anywhere in the world. Then, you can speak to whoever’s outside. This has been a powerful deterrent for package thieves and would-be burglars. They might think no one is at home and the house is an easy target. But you can speak from ‘inside’ the house, so they think it’s occupied. 

You can set these up in two ways. These video cameras can be wired to your preexisting doorbell. But they can be activated through motion sensors, too. That way, if someone knocks instead of pushing the doorbell, they’ll still get caught. And if something does happen, you can share the videos. Ring allows you to share them with family, friends, and law enforcement officers if you choose. 

The standard doorbell package costs $99.99 and takes under ten minutes to install. You can hold a two-way conversation, and it comes with infrared night vision. Ring doorbells sync up to Alexa, too, so all your devices talk to each other. 

To use Alexa by itself, though, you can set it up easily. To help manage security concerns, Alexa can’t be used on public WiFi networks. Instead, you can only use it on your home WiFi. That lessens the chance of someone hacking into your personal information. And whether you have an Apple or an Android device, you can download Alexa from the app store. 

As a ‘personal assistant’, Alexa is incredibly versatile. You can manage your to-do and shopping lists, manage your timers and alarms, set up news and your music queue, and more. And if you’re trying to make Alexa work with your family, you can set up individual profiles for each user. That way, you can limit the controls and make sure someone else’s music queue isn’t bleeding into yours. 

Being able to speak to Alexa might throw you off, though. It seems like machines only respond to robotic, crisp English, not the way that any of us really speak. But that’s not the case! Over the course of time, with your help, Alexa will course-correct and recognize how you pronounce certain words that it’s misinterpreted before. 

If you already own Android devices, though, you might prefer Google Assistant. Just like Alexa, it’s a seamless way to make your life easier. If your phone is an Android device, Google Assistant is already pre-installed. And if you’re tech-savvy at all, your computer and smartphone are already synced up to some extent. 

Go to Google Play, your app store. Search Google Assistant, and get it installed. After a minute or two, you’ll be ready to start controlling your smart home devices, make appointments, play music, and more. You can use it to find information, from how to get to a place to what the weather’s going to be like tomorrow. Even better, you didn’t have to type anything! All you have to do is speak. Just like Alexa, Google Assistant will course correct the more you use it. 

 If security isn’t your primary motivator, maybe saving money is more interesting. One of the best ways to do that is through smart thermostat control. Heating your home is often expensive! These smart thermostats gradually learn your heating and cooling preferences through the patterns that you establish over time. And once your smart thermostat has learned these patterns, it can adjust the temperature based on it. That way, you aren’t wasting money having the thermostat cranked when you leave home. 

It’s also a great way to save money when you’re gone. Maybe your area is in a brutal cold spell when you leave to go on a sunny vacation. You’ll need to leave the thermostat blasting to keep pipes from freezing and bursting. But eventually, the cold spell passes. Meanwhile, your thermostat is still so high that it’s costing you an unusual amount of money. With a smart thermostat, you don’t have to deal with that anymore! 

Getting your home in order is simple once you’ve installed the right smart home devices to help. If you’re interested in having a secure home, cutting down on your expenses, and making your life easier, smart home assistant devices can help. 

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