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Bob DePuppet asked itgroove...

Home Automation:

It's the next big thing in tech.

March 15, 2017

Which gadgets/tools would you like to play with for home automation? Do you have any in place already? If so, tell me about your home automation gadgets, and what you like/dislike about them.

Sean Wallbridge says:

Steph is right, I have a little bit of everything. Still early in my home automation adventure really as I haven’t gone so far as to manage blinds, sprinklers or stuff like that, but give me some time… 🙂

FAIL: Door Locks

This was a disaster for me. Used the August Smart Lock and was pretty disappointed. Both in the device and the customer service, despite what others in reviews online seem to think. But the bigger problem was probably that I started with the door lock and my family rejected it. Looking back, if you are going to go with a smart lock, make sure it has a pin pad *on* the deadbolt/door. Don’t go with an external pin pad like August does. If for any reason the door lock isn’t working and the pin doesn’t work, you have a very grumpy family. It was fun however to slowly drive my wife crazy by having the lock set to “geofencing” so when I drove by the house the door unlocked. She was NOT a fan. 🙂 Alec bought the lock from me for like 20 cents on the dollar, so I got to play with it and he got to keep it – win/win, I suppose.

MEH: Vacuum

We call our Roomba “Steve”. He’s been on a timeout for a few weeks but with a Golden Retriever, he definitely helped and I think he’ll be back. It isn’t a hill I need to die on while I introduce new stuff so I have left Steve in his time out (for now).

MEH: Harmony Remote

This still sits idle. They do a great job of almost automating all the remotes by the TV. However, I’m on my 3rd one and there always seems to be one device that doesn’t quite do the trick… which results in it not being used at all. I should really just sell the thing.

SUCCESS: Hue Lights

We have a few Hue light bulbs and a smart switch hooked up in the master bedroom and living room. Connected to Amazon Echo (and one day I suspect some sort of Siri device), it is pretty awesome.

SUCCESS: Lutron Caseta Dimmer Switches

Just installed these yesterday. I couldn’t find any Hue like bulbs for pot lights. Alec turned me on to Lutron Caseta, which meant replacing the dimmer switches with these smart buttons that control the existing lighting in place. Connected to Amazon Echo (and one day I suspect some sort of Siri device), it is pretty awesome.

SUCCESS: Amazon Echo Dot

I have one and there are 3 more on the way (you can’t get them in Canada so my buddy Mike gets them for me when he visits Buffalo – he says they should be here for this weekend). While I can’t use the app (US app store only), I’m able to configure the device still using the Alexa website. I can use voice commands to turn on all the HUE and Lutron devices, and ask her for my email (using the “Fetch” skill – there are lots of “skills”, by the way). Loving Alexa. If Apple comes out with one, I’ll likely sell Alexa, but they’ll have to do a good job of it. Alexa is just so sweet and responsive, it will be hard to let her go. My wife Wendy is jealous of the relationship Alexa and I have…

I’m not out of the door locks game, but I’m going to wait a year and see what new stuff enters the market. My DHCP server says I have over 40 IP addresses in use in my house. Good thing I went with that Class A subnet. 🙂

Kelly Marshall says:

We have zero home automation gadgets in our household.

Why? Probably because we spend all our extra money on electronic music production equipment (Rick’s passion) and computers and cameras (my hobbies).

Maybe one day we’ll consider purchasing tools that allow wireless, AI, and robot buddies to control our electronic devices, but for now, I really don’t see the point.

(The closest thing we have in our home is a Google Chromecast streaming device that we use to cast apps from our mobile devices onto our TV over WiFi. The dongle saves us the hassle of having to plug our devices into the TV.)

Stephanie Kahlam says:

I think Sean has everything.

Bruce Smith says:

My heat pump’s on a timer 😉 Otherwise, I buy power tools and beer.

Actually, I’m not sure this counts, but I’m actively in the market for a home CNC/3D Printer.

Also, this real life farmville machine is very cool, but still too expensive (i.e. my wife said no).

Karin Skapski says:

I think it’s super cool and very space-age that we’re able to harness the power of AI and other technologies to simplify our daily lives.

My partner loves the idea of home automation, and is always looking at YouTube videos of different tech bloggers’ setups. That being said, neither of us own any home automation gadgets.

My grandparents actually have an Amazon Echo with Alexa and love it. They use it mainly for music while they entertain, or for asking general questions (neither of them have iPhones or Siri). Personally I don’t want or need one right now, but that may change.

The products that I could see myself using, and will probably invest in over the next couple years are:

  • Robot vacuum. One less chore to worry about!
  • Smart lighting. I imagine that having different settings for morning and evening would be pretty cool. The colours are a novelty for sure. Maybe red for when I’m feeling moody? 😉
  • Smart lock system. Living in an apartment/condo, it doesn’t fully eliminate the need for keys, but I think that it would be great for guests (so long as the main door buzzer is linked to your phone, so you can buzz them in anywhere/anytime). I’d want one with some sort of manual backup because I don’t completely trust technology (yet).
Noel Feliciano says:

I have Philips Hue Smart Lights and I love them. I got them as sort of an introduction to home automation, and I definitely want more. I set them to turn off when I leave and turn on when I arrive home, to automatically turn the lights on in the morning, and to dim the lights when I should be getting ready for bed. It’s great not to have to worry about that stuff, and being able to dim and color the lights to my liking is a nice bonus. Plus, guests are always impressed when I mess around with all the lights at once with my phone or Siri. 🙂

I don’t know if I’ll get anything else for a while, but I’ve always been interested in home automation tools. I’m not very intrigued by the likes of Alexa or Google Home just yet, but smart locks, the Nest thermostat, and smart shades/blinds all strike me as something I’m going to want to look at in the future when I’m in a more ‘smart-friendly’ home.

D'Arcy Cunningham says:

I’ve been eyeing up the Farmbot for when I have a garden, or a bigger version if I get some land.

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