I’m totally obsessed with IoT, connectivity and automation. I’ve always envisioned a dream home that is awakened or shut down by my physical or digital presence. I want music to play as I enter a room, lights to change hues based on time of day and to be able to control every aspect with the push of an app.
This vision used to be a farfetched science fiction fantasy -- but, not anymore. Today’s applications paired with smart devices has made this an actual reality.
Here’s what I mean:
Yonomi connects with your home's smart devices and allows you to control them from one central hub on your smartphone or tablet. With support for dozens of devices, ranging from wireless speakers and security systems to smart light bulbs and even crockpots, Yonomi prides itself on being one of the few home automation services that doesn't require the purchase of a central "hub" or physical syncing device. Some of the more popular brands with which Yonomi is compatible include:
Yonomi also adds new brands and products to the mix as they become available. Some features you can enjoy using Yonomi include automatically pausing your music when you receive a phone call and dimming the lights in your den when you start a movie. This intuitive platform allows your connected devices to interact in ways that make your time at home more enjoyable.
IFTTT (short for "If This Then That") is a unique, customizable service that lets users automate tasks within their homes. All of IFTTT's features can be accessed and used directly from their website, although they also have a free app that's worth downloading if you're planning on using IFTTT's notification features.
For example, if you have a FitBit and want to be reminded to hit your step goal each day, the IFTTT app can send you a notification if you haven't reached your goal by a certain time.
One aspect of IFTTT that sets it apart from others is the ability for users to create "if, then" recipes based on their compatible devices. For instance, using your phone's built-in GPS, you can set an "if, then" recipe that tells your Phillips Hue lights to shut off when you leave the house and turn them back on when you arrive home for the day.
You can designate similar commands, such as having your thermostat automatically go into "away" mode to save you money when you leave the house. IFTTT provides ample customization options not just for smart home products, but for other wireless-capable devices as well (such as fitness trackers).
3. Smart Things
If you're looking for a system that's specifically focused on home automation, Smart Things by Samsung is probably your best option. Available as an app download in the Google Play Store, Apple Store, and WIndows Store, Smart Things allows you to control your home's smart devices and keep track of what's going on at home -- even when you're away.
Specifically, the app lets you set "rules" for when you wake up, go to bed, leave home and arrive back at home. For example, when you tap the "awake" button upon getting out of bed in the morning, your smart speakers may begin playing your favorite music and your connected coffee maker may start brewing a fresh pot.
With Smart Things, you must purchase a central "hub" that connects to your home's Wi-Fi in addition to your smart devices. This hub will then sync with the Smart Things app and alow you to stay connected and in control from anywhere. The app download is free, but the Smart Things hub starts at $99. The main selling point for Smart Things (as opposed to the free options) is that it has an extensive list of compatible devices, with brands including:
- First Alert
Using Smart Things, you can also beef up security at your home, receiving an alert any time a door or window is opened when you're not home.
Overall, having smart devices in your home can certainly make your life easier in a number of ways. But if you want to make the most of your devices and have them work in unison to save you money, provide added convenience, and maximize your experience as a homeowner, these platforms are all viable options to consider.
Ultimately, which choice is best for you will depend on your specific needs, budget, and compatible devices. The cool thing is that the science fiction fantasy we've all dreamed of is just an app push away these days...