Calvin Wankhede/Android Authority
While I’ve found many of these smart home devices helpful in their place, I still haven’t managed to create a working smart home as advertised by tech companies. You know, where my alarm clock talks to the coffee maker, starts my robot vacuum, opens the blinds, turns on the lights, etc. I’ll admit I’ve been lazy about home automation, but I blame my lack of enthusiasm for building one Smart home about fragmentation in space.
I attribute my lack of enthusiasm to fragmentation in the smart home space.
There are multiple ecosystems to navigate, including Google’s (Nest/Google Assistant), Apple’s (HomeKit), and Amazon’s (Alexa/Echo). There are smart home devices that work directly with Wi-Fi and a simple companion app, as well as those that connect to a proprietary hub and work with various wireless protocols like Zigbee and Z-Wave. Another major barrier between my home and automation is the lack of many major smart home brands in India. Nest, Ring, Arlo, or Ecobee devices are either not available where I live or super expensive to import. But next year I decide to overcome all these hurdles to beautify my home.
My current (sort of) smart home setup
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
Currently my barely smart smart home setup does the bare minimum. Nothing talks to each other except my Alexa speakers, thanks to a single Amazon account we use at home. I don’t have much of what I have other than the fact that the devices serve their primary purpose independently. They can do so much more but currently live in a not-so-smart home.
I have a few Smart speakers Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation). scattered around the house to play my music in different rooms. I even have an Echo Dot in the shower. But aside from playing music remotely and asking Alexa for general info, I pretty much don’t do anything else with them.
On Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) sits in our living room and helps with music playback, package delivery notifications, reminders, timers, and the occasional YouTube video. I find the Echo Show 10’s built-in camera very useful. I use it when I’m not at home to keep an eye on the house and check on my babies – a human and a beagle. The two-way communication allows me to talk to them or just sneak in to spy on mom for a bit.
On Alexa-enabled Yamaha YAS-209 Soundbar completes my setup. This lightweight soundbar sounds absolutely amazing and comes with Alexa built in. It can help control connected Alexa-enabled smart home devices, but I only use it for music playback.
I chose these for my TV LG B9 and LG G2 Smart OLED TVs. Both have a built-in Google Assistant, which is really helpful with things like navigating, playing movies and TV shows on streaming services, and turning on things like the connected soundbar and PlayStation 5.
I use two Realme 360-degree indoor security cameras for monitoring my home while I’m away. They have their own ad-heavy app, but since they’re Alexa-enabled, I can view their feed in the Alexa app too. The problem is that I can only see a static feed there; I cannot use other functions of the camera. There’s literally no other benefit to this Alexa integration.
I added an a to this cheap local CCTV camera for outdoor observation. This thing was super affordable, works with Wi-Fi, and has its own app that can help play clips. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with any smart assistant and isn’t compatible with any smart home protocol.
Related: Alexa vs. Google Assistant – what is different and what is better
What my future smart home should look like
As you can see I have several smart devices that can be controlled or controlled by others or with my phone. Obviously I’m not doing much to create the smart home of my dreams. However, I do have a few home automation tasks and gadgets on my wish list.
Do not get me wrong. I don’t want to rely on home automation like my colleague Calvin Wankhede. I just want a smarter home where I can set up some routines, create subsets of devices based on each room in the house, control the lights, and so on. Here’s what I plan to do over the next few months.
First I want beautify my lights, fans and other devices. I wanted to jump on the Philips Hue bandwagon but unfortunately I have recessed lights in my house. A good friend recommended I get a single switching relay, one like this one from Sonoff, which essentially automates each switch. It also has an app that lets you create groups of devices to control. Best of all, these Wi-Fi switches work with both Google Assistant and Alexa for voice commands, and they’re super cheap, so I can buy a few to scatter around the house to control everything from Lights to fans to my coffee machine.
A smart home must run independently.
Next I should Set up some Alexa Routines. Given the plethora of Alexa speakers in my house, it’s high time to start using Alexa Routines. Especially since I will be automating several switches in the house. A smart home needs to run independently, and that’s where Alexa Routines come in. I plan to use routines to automate how the lights and other appliances in the house turn on or what music plays when my baby sits down at the dinner table.
I would also like to grab some Nest goodies. I know I said Nest devices aren’t easy to come by in India, but there are a few I have my eye on. I would like to diversify my smart home and not be completely dependent on Amazon’s platform. So yes, the Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) is on my list, as is the battery-powered Nest Cam. Fortunately, these two are available in India. The icing on the cake is that Google’s Nest Hubs are or will be updated with Matter and Thread support, meaning they’ll all be able to communicate more efficiently with many more smart devices in the future.
Matter-Enabled purchases ensure I’m ready for the smart home future.
I will do all this meanwhile to keep matter in my head. The new protocol may not be supported by many devices just yet, but it will be for years to come. The biggest advantage of Matter-enabled devices is that they can work on all major platforms. So I can tell Siri on my iPhone to turn on the bedroom lights, and someone else in the house can use the Google Home app on their Android phone to turn on the same lights. Some features shouldn’t even require the internet or a dedicated hub. So I will certainly consider buying more Matter-enabled devices as I expand my smart home. Even if the idea of controlling everything in my house with a single app of my choice is still a long way off, by future-proofing these purchases I am prepared for the years to come and do not have to start from scratch.
For all of the above, I don’t want to spend more than about $1,000 right now – less if possible. I’m not saying that would be enough to get a fully automated home, but it would certainly be a good start. I will be tracking how my efforts go over the next six months! So I hope my smart home journey is not difficult. do you have any advice for me Hit me in the comments section.