Well here is the thing: This blog and my YouTube channel started to be mainly about cameras, namely Leicas. But, I’m expanding it. I’m a tech guy, and I like my Apple gear, my TVs, home gadgets but only when they can really add some value to my living. Call this article a mini review if you will, I’m just blogging about a few products I like and implemented.
Smart Home Gadgets need to be Useful
My mother always used to say “never buy for the sake of buying.” Maybe it is because I am a little conservative with what I spend, but I only buy tech when I know it will truly add value to my life. That can be helping me to work, to be creative, to provide enjoyment for more than 5 minutes, or to make live better at home. Then again I like playing with different platforms. I currently have both a “Hey Siri” setup through my iPhone/iPad controlling my lights and trying out the “Ok Google” Google Assistant with my Google Home to control my air conditioning. I’ve tried the app on my iPhone but it is easier on the Google Home device.
Must Have Smart Home Gadget – Lighting
Ok, this was my first smart home purchase actually in 2014. LIFX Smart bulbs. They are an Australian invention. Ever since seeing a demo of the app where you can set timers, use the IFTTT (If This Then That) protocol, change the mood of the lights, colour, brightness and even make them beat to music I had to have them. Late 2017 I bought the newest generation. They work best on a 2.4Ghz WiFi network, which is cool as I have dual band WiFi. I tend to think it is better to have different devices on different bands depending on their purpose but that is another post.
Voice Control of my Lights
Now with my Lights I can say “Hey Siri, turn on the light in the bedroom.” Sounds gimmicky but you get used to it. It is actually great in the morning when I can wake up and say “Hey Siri…” without having to fumble around in the dark for the phone or lightswitch. My vision isn’t great so that it useful.
The airlines caught onto this for long haul flights with lighting: We can be made to feel more awake or more relaxed and ready for sleep depending on the brightness and colour of light. So when I want to wake up and work I start with a greenish bright light that changes to a white functional light…and then to wind down I change to a dull but warm tone. You really do feel it making you more relaxed. That said, the funky colour changes you can make with the LIFX bulbs is awesome. I want to get some of their tile lights soon as a feature.
Must Have Smart home Gadget – Air Conditioning
In this article I am talking about smart control of ducted reverse cycle air conditioning systems. That is important as there are a lot of smart air conditioning controllers out there for the different types of air conditioners, eg, wall mounted split systems, ducted reverse cycle etc.
So I got an AirTouch to control my ducted reverse cycle system. I really like the AirTouch as it is designed for Australian houses. I don’t like clutter so was attracted to the product because it lets you do away with the air conditioning unit’s own wall control panel, and the seperate zone control system and just have one panel to do the entire job. When I say zone control system, it is a system that lets you turn the air con on and off in different rooms in your house. AirTouch is a zone controller, but also an air conditioning unit controller all in one touch screen (and a nice looking one too!).
Initially I was also attracted to it because it replicates its control on a phone App. Neato! So now I can control my lights and air conditioning from my phone. The App is good, functional and means that if I’m in bed or on the couch I don’t have to get up to turn the system on, or change the mode etc. My living room gets a lot of sun so its nice to pump some extra cold air into it in summer.
Voice Control of my Air Conditioning with Google Home
This is good. I got a Google Home out of curiosity as it seems great value, and I prefer to use the Google Assistant on it instead of my phone. Just my personal preference. The speaker is good, lets me have my music on Spotify etc, and it’s cool to get it to set timer reminders and all that. Anyway, AirTouch works with the Google Assistant so through my Google Home I can control my air conditioning by voice. There is an info page on Google Home AC control with AirTouch here. We’ve had a few warm days (in SA in April 2018…normally the weather is colder by now) so I’ve had an excuse to try it a bit and it is fun to say “Ok Google, Turn on/off the air conditioning” or “Hey Google, cool down the…” It makes life better. The other evening when my house was pretty warm (after a day in the sun) but I had my hands full from shopping I was able to call out to the Google Home to turn the system on and it occurred to me how useful it was without having to go to the wall panel or grab my phone. Wow how technology has changed. And this is stuff that makes life easier.
You can also do it away from home through the Google Assistant. I’ve been using the standalone AirTouch app for a while to turn on and off my AC system remotely.
I’ll keep you posted about further developments with my smart home…It is all about integrations and making life easier. No necessarily just gadgets and gizmos, but real useful smart tech.