Amazon held a hardware event last night, releasing a pile of new products to drive home automation. The Echo range received a massive boost but a number of other accessories including cameras, smartplugs and even a microwave oven. And while not every product will make it to Australia - we won't be getting the microwave oven for now - there's enough in this announcement for Amazon to be declared the current leader in smart home gear.
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Ring is well known for their connected doorbells. I looked at the Ring Video Doorbell 2 earlier this year and really liked it. So, when the opportunity came to try out the Spotlight Cam so I could add a connected security camera outside my home I jumped at the chance. And while I did hit a couple of bumps in getting started, I think this makes a great addition to my home security.
Going to the effort of setting up a smart home just so you can turn your lights on and off from your phone may not seem like the best use of your time and resources, but with the right gear and apps you can put together some routines that really will impress family, friends and occasional Airbnb guests. Here are five of our favourites.
It goes without saying that Philips Hue is more than just a set of light bulbs you can remotely turn on and off.
When it comes to creating a smart home, they are an essential part of the puzzle and often a great first step to making your house totally connected.
Once you’re set up with a Starter Kit, the possibilities are endless as to how you use the system to transform not only your home but your wellbeing too, given that lighting can often affect our mood, productivity and sleep.
Philips Hue has been around for a few years now and it truly is a must-have for any smart home. It’s a wireless system that allows you to control the lights in your house with a smartphone, instantly changing the look and feel of each room.
The energy efficient LED bulbs connect to Wi-Fi and have the ability to emit any colour on the spectrum - 16 million to be precise.
Even the humble doorbell has been given the smart home treatment. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 upgrades the humble doorbell to include a video intercom system and remote monitoring as well as providing your home with a simple security camera you can monitor. Here's the Lifehacker Australia review of the Ring Video Doorbell 2.
One of the fastest growing smart home product groups is security cameras. it makes sense now that high quality sensors are falling in cost and the technology that's needed to bring a connected camera to market is commoditised. That also means it's hard to make a product that stands out. The Netgear Arlo Go, offers a high quality camera but throws in a solar power option, weather-proofing and cellular comms so it can be remotely deployed where your Wi-Fi doesn't reach. Here's Lifehacker's review.
As I continue on my quest to put together a smart home, filled with useful, connected gadgets, I've been focussing a lot of my time on home security. This is because it has any easy business case. You want something that can monitor what's going on when you're not home, alert you if there's something unexpected happening and record the action so you can investigate later. One of the first cameras I looked at was the Reolink Argus. Now, I've had a chance to play with its successor -the Reolink Argus 2.
Over recent weeks, I've been testing out a bunch of smart home gear, ranging from security cameras to environmental monitoring through to door locks, switches and lights. And while most of those rely on a robust home network, some will also depend on a fast uplink connection to the Internet. Most existing ADSL and cable internet services aren't going to cut it.
In the fight between Google, Amazon and Apple to take control of your home, there are some clear battle-lines being drawn. Over the last week, I've been using The Amazon Echo - a cylindrical speaker and microphone array that responds to my voice to do all sorts of interesting things. Here's my journey so far and how it fits into my quest to assemble an array for smart home devices that will make my home operate more smoothly.
Home automation is where the Internet of Things runs headlong through your front door. And, there are a bunch of devices around for securing that front door. One is the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt. Schlage isn't a particularly well-known brand in Australia but they're a big deal when it comes to door furniture in the US. And the Sense is a nifty door lock that lets you remotely control the deadbolt from a smartphone as well as linking it to other devices so you can automate what happens when you enter or leave your home.
Smart devices are becoming more and more ubiquitous. Whether you're the owner of a smart lightbulb, smart outlet, security camera, or all of the above, managing your devices can get tricky, especially if you're amassing a collection.
If you're using a Google voice assistant, though, they're making it easy to add new smart toys to your existing home setup: one simple command that can get your voice assistant up to speed and keep your connected devices aware of one another. All you have to do is say: "Hey Google, sync my devices."
US morning television host Matt Lauer, recently fired from NBC's Today for sexually harassing women in terrible ways for years, had a door lock button under his desk. Who the hell installed that? we all wondered. But the answer may be: nobody. You can just buy one off Amazon.
The Roomba 900 Series offers a Clean Map Report, which maps your home as it vacuums, improving its movement and telling you how well it cleaned. But to get that map, according to customer service reps, you have to share it with Roomba's creator iRobot. And that gives iRobot permission to give -- or sell -- your map. Which is exactly what iRobot CEO Colin Angle plans to do, as he told Reuters this week.
I recently purchased a few smart bulbs and have plans to expand my collection of smart lights. I did notice a small inconvenience during setup, however: It was hard to tell which bulb was which without staring into an app. So I added a visual aid to my bulbs using emoji stickers. It's a lot easier to see the "banana" light is out instead of trying to figure out which bulb is "Hue living room bulb 7" while your ceiling fan is off.
Smart home technology has found its way in many of today's households, meaning it's time to learn to code for this booming platform. With the Amazon Alexa Coding Bundle, you can capitalize on the success of Amazon's smart home tech by building your own voice-activated applications.