Thursday, 10 May 2018

Update to my Smart Home Setup

My Smart Home Setup


Since I did my original podcast on my smart connected home a few years ago, I have added a number of new devices.


It is still a bit of a mishmash, but still works for me.


To access all of these different devices, I use two different smart speakers - Google Home, and HomePod.  In certain situations depending on the device and whether or not it has smart speaker support, I will use my iPhone with an app or the actual device itself.  All of the apps that I use on my iPhone work just as well on Android (such as my Samsung tablet).


To start off with the HomePod.  I have switch’s (turn things on or off) connected to lamps and night lights in my boys bedrooms, lamp in the master bedroom and electric blanket, radio in the dining room, lamp in the lounge room, and a heater in the boys play room.


The switch (in this case the Eve Energy Switch) plugs in to the wall, and then you plug the “thing” you want to turn on or off in to the switch itself.


When you set these items up, you can give them a name, and organise them in to groups or rooms.


With the previous items, I named all of the devices and organised them in to groups. Thus with Hey Siri, I can say Hey Siri “turn on lounge room lamp”, “turn on Owen’s lamp” turn on boys lights”, “turn off house lights..


I use two weather stations for indoor (Eve Room) and outdoor (Eve Weather) temperature and humidity  checking, again I access them by using the name that I assigned to them when I was setting them up - Hey Siri “what is the temperature in the lounge room”, “what is the temperature in the pergola”, “what is the humidity in the lounge room (or pergola)”.


As Siri operates not only on the homePod but my iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and Apple TV, I can control or check all of the connected items from here as well.


The Google Home is connected to smart bulbs (Belkin link) outside the front door (named front door), and the back door (yes, named back door).  I can then say Hey Google “turn on the front door light”, “turn on the back door light”, “, turn off the front door light”, and finally “turn off the back door light”.


I have an infrared device (Sensibo) to control my split system air conditioner, again assigned a name when I was setting it up.  So with hey Google “turn on the air con”, “put air con on cool”, “put air con on heat”, “change air con temp to 22C”, “what is the temperature of the house (my name for the device), and “turn off the air con”.


My Samsung PowerBot vacuum cleaner is also setup to be used by the Google home: sadly I couldn’t give it a name, but I call it “Sam” anyway.  Hence hey google “start Powerbot”, “stop PowerBot”, “charge PowerBot”.

The Samsung PowerBot also as an excellent laid out physical remote control.


One thing extra that I do use with the PowerBot is an electronic tag (called Tile) for those situations where the PowerBot gets stuck, can’t return to its charging station: I can press the tag name on the Tile app on my iPhone to play a tune on the tab and thus find where Sam got stuck.


As I can rung the Google Assistant app on my iPhone, anything I can do with my smart home technology I can do with the app as well.


One part of my smart home setup which I can’t currently access via Google Home is the Samsung Smart TV (which has accessibility options inbuilt).  However, by the very accessible physical remote which includes voice recognition or the Samsung app running on my iPhone, I can access the TV.  AS the TV speaks out to me I can change channel, access program information including the electronic program guide, adjust the volume, and most important to me change the source between HDMI1, 2, and 3.  Connected to the TV I have the Xbox One for my boys (that I can access via Narrator), the Apple TV (which is accessed by VoiceOver), and Chromecast (which lets me stream content in this specific case from the Google Home).  When I go to change source, I get spoken out to me the name of the devices - Xbox One, Apple TV, and Chromecast.


As I wanted to be able to play music around my house to various speakers, I added a plug in device to the 3.5mm jack on each of the speakers (Chromecast audio).  Again during the setup I gave each device a name and also grouped them in to categories.  Hey google “play music on boys bedroom speakers”, “play music on Owen’s speaker”, “play music on front of house” etc.


A few years ago I put in a brand new kitchen and what is a brand new kitchen without a shiny new expensive device to have in it.  As I love coffee, I purchased the Delongi PrimmaDonna Elite Touch coffee machine.  Sadly this can not be controlled at least at the moment by the Google Home, is via the Coffee Link app on my iPhone I can make 12 different types of coffee, hot chocolate, steamed milk, and good old straight hot water.


When visitors come to my front door, I have a audio/video front doorbell which also does motion sensing (the Ring Doorbell).  This is another one of the devices that I have to use via the app (Ring” from my iPhone.  As the Ring Doorbell is connected to my network at home, I can answer the door as it were when at home or not, speak to the person if I am home without even opening the door for security, and if someone comes to the fort door and doesn’t press the doorbell, the motion sensor will still go off to let me there is something happening at the front door.   I can even do a “live view” to see/hear if there is anyone at my front door anytime I wish.


I’ve in some ways left the best to last.  I’ve been talking about all the devices connected to my smart speakers, but haven’t really talked about the smart speakers themselves.


The HomePod has still a way to go to some extent, but it does well in controlling my Apple related devices, Apple Music, and of course Siri.


Google Home of which I have 5 around the house, allows anyone in my family to use the speakers as a smart speaker plus being able to control devices as well.  I one thing that stands out for me about having a number of Google Speakers around the house is that you can say hey google “broadcast message get ready for school” and every speaker in the house gets the message”.


This is just to give you some idea of what can be done, and how I have gone about my own smart home setup.


I hope it will give you a few ideas to move in to the smart home market.



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