If you’ve carved out a space for your Amazon Echo or Google Assistant, you’re not just one in a million. According to research from Voicebot.ai, you’re one in 66.4 million. That’s how many people rely on voice assistants to help them do everything from reorder Trader Joe’s organic purple maize flakes to evaluate the latest model of Hoka sneakers.
In other words, we’re inching closer to 100% comfort with an Internet of Things (IoT) lifestyle, where our devices speak with each other — and us. And innovators are offering us more ways to increase the connectivity of our homes.
In fact, several key smart technologies are available to help you live more efficiently and environmentally responsibly without losing your shirt. Where should you concentrate your finances when adding smarter items? Try these five areas first:
1. AI Security Software
Before diving into all of the IoT choices on the market, you should build a security net first. That’s easily done with software, but there’s a catch: Most software gets outdated pretty quickly. The only way to ensure you have continuous protection to help you stay a step ahead of cybercriminals and other threats is to install a product that incorporates machine learning into the mix. Think of investing in AI security as the precursor to adding any other gadgets to make your life easier.
Installing AI-based security platforms enables you to benefit from smarter home solutions without worrying about cybersecurity. As smart home services provider Plume’s team notes, AI security automatically enables protection in real time, delivering full peace of mind while you use your devices. Your AI-enabled software can be where you can’t and keeps evolving. That’s a huge relief when you’re ramping up your home’s IQ.
2. Home Security
A recent survey from SafeWise indicates that nearly two-thirds of homeowners worry about someone breaking in when they’re not around. Yet only about a quarter of people own any type of security system. These numbers reveal a disconnect that can be solved by purchasing any number of smart home systems from heavy-duty players like Arlo and Wyze.
What should you look for in a home security option that can be adjusted and monitored through your phone or other device? Not only do you want powerful — think not-too-grainy — image resolution, but you also want all those other amenities that keep prowlers from hanging around. These can include sirens and time-lapse replay, as well as night vision and auto-zooming. Be sure to consider the variety of subscription models available when evaluating home security contenders to find the one that’s budget-friendly while giving you everything you need.
3. Entryway Devices
After you’ve installed software and tech pieces to keep bad eggs out, consider other economical smart solutions to let you and your loved ones in, preferably without the need for keys. We’ve all been in the position of locking ourselves out, and it’s frustrating — not to mention embarrassing. For that reason, you may want to retrofit locks on all your exterior doors with a smarter deadbolt.
Manufacturers August and Nest make several types of smart locks, some of which don’t require you to completely remove your current hardware. In fact, a few keyless entryway systems allow you to use an old-fashioned key, if that’s your preference. Going along with the IoT theme, you may want to choose smart locks that “talk” to other systems in your home to instantly turn on the lights or air conditioner when you walk in the door.
4. Lighting Options
Over the past few years, society has discovered the inherent value in energy-efficient light bulbs, which may last up to 25 times as long as standard incandescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, merely replacing your light bulbs with long-lasting LEDs only scratches the surface of the multiple ways you can spend less and get more from your home lighting.
Different light options — such as the relatively inexpensive Wyze Bulb, multi-hued Yeelight, or feature-heavy Philips Hue — allow you to change a bulb’s intensity and sometimes color. Having smarter lighting can change your relationship with your environment for the better. For instance, imagine being able to turn a table lamp off and an overhead one on just by asking. It’s almost like magic. It’s also convenient if you want to improve your lighting at a moment’s notice before joining a Zoom meeting with your boss.
5. Room Climate Devices
Never jiggle around with a dated and annoying thermostat that never seems to get the temperature right. Smart thermostats allow you to change your target climate with a swipe or spoken word. True, these devices have been around for a while; nevertheless, they’re getting more precise and affordable all the time. Check out the lineup of smart thermostats in just about any discount retail store, from Target to Best Buy.
Looking for more ways to limit utility bill sticker shock? Even if you don’t have fully integrated HVAC systems in your home, you can save. Products like the GE Electronic Room Air Conditioning unit work through commands given to your personal assistant, allowing you to make adjustments on the fly. Every little bit helps reduce how much of your hard-earned cash flies out the proverbial window in wasted heating and cooling costs.
Ready to ramp up your home’s intelligence without overspending? Incorporate smart gadgets, software, and systems into your everyday living. You’ll be amazed at how quickly tomorrow’s tech can move you from living like the Waltons to living like the Jetsons.