The Internet of things (IoT) and smart homes are almost a reality. Every week it seems like a new smart device is being made and the prices of existing devices are falling. But in terms of making everything work together, it can feel like the wild west out there. Some companies have open APIs (application programming interface) and let third parties have access to their programs while other companies try to have fully integrated products, which can make the technology world feel overwhelming and confusing at times. To make sure your tech is working for you and not the other way around, consider the following three steps to make your home smarter not harder:
1. Do Your Research
To make your initial setup for your IoT be as painless as possible, be sure to do your research ahead of time. The main thing you need to know is what devices play nicely with each other or not. While most devices are becoming more interconnected, there are certain devices that work as a centralized hub that you should build around. For example, if you want to connect all of your media devices, Amazon Echo works well as the center of your environment because it can issue commands to other devices, such as your lights and music and audio systems. For this device, you would want to buy products that work well with it, such as Philips Hue, Insteon, Prime Music and Pandora.
Another good example of a centralized hub is the Nest thermostat. It gathers information, such as energy prices and whether you are home or not, and then issues commands to other devices based on that data. For example, Nest can work with smart lights, appliances, door locks and garages to complete tasks based on whether it senses you’re home or not.
The main point is to do your research to make sure everything can work together. You don’t want to get several steps through the process and then realize that your favorite service isn’t available through your new speaker system. However, since the IoT is becoming more widespread, nearly all of the most popular systems are available across platforms.
2. Make Your Setup Easy
Nearly every smart device has its own application on Google Play or the Apple App Store because it enables the developers to quickly and easily tweak the systems. During the setup process make sure you have your mobile device and any information you need on hand so you don’t have to stop to find it after every step. For example, if you’re setting up a smart TV and speaker system, make sure you have all of your log in information for services like Pandora and Spotify. Or if you’re setting up a wireless network and connected devices, such as a Chromecast, be sure to have any codes and passwords needed to ensure you are the only one who has a secure connection. Once you get past the initial steps of logging in and securing your connection, you should have a seamless experience using the services together.
3. Go Beyond Smart Devices
Just because a device can be smart doesn’t meant it needs to be. While a smart washing machine or dryer makes sense in the IoT because they are only run occasionally and are large resource drains to a household, this is not true for all appliances. Sometimes being just a little bit smarter is enough to make your life easier without needing to be connected to your smartphone and other appliances. Something as simple as a refrigerator that dispenses pre-measured amounts of water lets you keep one more dish clean or lets you avoid having to convert recipes between units of measurement. Not everything has to be a genius, but a little intelligence goes a long way.