Sunday, 2 September 2018

What Makes Up My Connected Home So FAr

My Connected Home

My Smart Home is a collection of various hardware and software from different manufacturers including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.  Besides most devices being “smart”, I have also have been gradually replacing non accessible devices with accessible ones or at least apps that I can run to make the actual hardware accessible.


Whilst some devices within themselves are not smart home tech, they give me a complete house experience that is accessible or at least convenient.


The main device that I use to drive most of the tech in my house is my iPhone with the inbuilt screen reader VoiceOver.


Running apps on my iPhone gives me control to access/use my:

 Ring Video Doorbell at the front door,

Coffee machine (which in itself is not accessible due to the touch screen),

Home Kit switch’s (lights, fans and electric blankets), globes, and weather stations (indoor and outdoor),,

Front door and backdoor smart lights,

Playing music to my Google Home/Mini/Chromecast audio speakers in all parts of the house,

Playing movies or TV shows through the Apple TV (either in the rumpus room or a 2nd unit in the lounge room),

Playing music, audio books etc to the HomePod in the dining room or rumpus room,

Controlling my split system air conditioner via the Sensibo device (although via a webpage as the app is not that accessible for directly controlling the AC),

Controlling my Samsung Powerbot vacuum cleaner,

Tile Tag tracking for keys, computer bag and wallet.


Speaking of apps on my iPhone.  The app that I use for the coffee machine (Delongi primadonna Touch) is sort of accessible on my iPhone if I don’t get any pop-up messages from the machine such as water tank empty etc.  If these pop up, the app stops being accessible.  To get around this, one of my Samsung One Tabs is permanently Bluetooth connected to the coffee machine via the Coffee link app which does allow me to read and dismiss messages from the machine.


As I mentioned above, the Sensibo app is not great for directly controlling my AC.  However, I have linked the account up to the Google Mini in the kitchen to allow me to turn the AC on or off, check temperature, and turn the temp up or down.


The Samsung Powerbot vacuum cleaner I mainly use via the Google Mini in the kitchen to start and stop.  However, the physical remote control for the unit is very well laid out and easy to use.


Since the whole family uses iPhones and iPads, we have installed USB power points in the master bedroom, lounge room, kitchen, dining room, and study.  All the USB ports have lightning cables permanently plugged in so anyone can easily charge their device.  In my nook in the lounge room, I also have a few micro USB cables plugged in the USB ports to charge my Samsung tablet etc.


The reason why I went for the Chromcast Audio devices to give me sound around the whole house, is that I already had a number of AirPlay speakers (AQ audio Smart Speakers) which still work fine and happen to have 3.5MM jacks in the back which the Chromecast audio units plug in too.  So rather than buying new general or Airplay 2 compatible speakers, I just re-used my existing ones.


The 2 Google Homes and 3 Google Minis I have around the house to not only play music by themselves or around the house etc in their own wright, but I also use the “broadcast” feature which plays a voice message on all speakers to get my boys attention to get ready for Karate etc.


I also have a Chromecast linked up to my Samsung 32 inch (accessible) Smart TV in the boys rumpus room so that I can Chromecast from my iPhone or Netflix directly from one of the Google Home/Minis.


The advantage of the accessible Samsung Smart TV with its inbuilt screen reader Voice Guide allows me to not only independently change channels, find out what’s on, schedule recordings etc, but it also allows me to change Sources between the Xbox, Apple TV, and Chromecast.  Whilst most of the internet based apps on the Samsung are not accessible via Voice Guide, the apps that I need to use are fully supported with the inbuilt screen reader on the Apple TV VoiceOver including ABC iView, Netflix, channel 9 etc.


In case I feel like it, I have also paired the Google Home in the Rumpus room to be an external speaker to the Samsung TV, and of course, AirPlay from the Apple TV in the same room to the HomePod.


As the Apple TV supports Bluetooth keyboards, I have an Apple keyboard linked up to both AppleTVS should the family or visitors want to use them rather than the Siri Remote.


I have 3 Amazon Echo Dots,  in the boys rumpus room, kitchen, and study.  I mainly use these to listen to my audio books, and my Kindle books.


The HomePod I use via Siri to send/read messages and use it as a speaker from the iPhone, control the Home Kit devices (including checking the weather stations), and listen to ABC Radio Sydney in the mornings.


Unfortunately at this point in time the HomePod can not do multiple timers, so my Google Home Mini in the kitchen gives me access to multiple timers.  Another function which the HomePod doesn’t do and the Google Mini has to do is give me the next bus or train for me to catch.


Having the HomePod and the Apple TV as remote hosts, I can turn lights on or off etc when away from home.


Of course, having Siri not only on my iPhone, but also on my Apple Watch, allows me to access the Home Kit devices.  In addition, the Apple Watch allows me to “ping” my iPhone in the house so that if I have put it down somewhere I can have the watch play a sound on it to find it somewhere in the house.


Mac OS 10.14 Mohave (beta as of writing) running on my various Macs in the house allows me to either use Siri to control Home Kit devices as well as using the Home app itself.


With the Xbox on the Samsung Smart TV in the rumpus room  (I have a second unit in the lounge room on a non smart TV) running the inbuilt screen reader Narrator so I can keep track of what my boys are doing on the consoles.


What is currently not directly accessible in my house is my washing machine, dryer, and dish washer.  For the moment, these have just been marked up with tactile markers as has the Oven and Microwave.  The large TV in the lounge room where the 2nd Xbox and Apple TV are plugged in I’m waiting for it to stop working as it were so I can justify (smile) updating it to an accessible TV.  I would also like an accessible smart lock for the front door.


Most likely, the other purchase is going to be for a mesh network to help all the devices connect better and more reliably.


So getting there on my connected home tech, but still a way to go.


David Woodbridge September 2018

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