Thanks to the latest in “smart device” technology, and three technology giants, it’s possible to turn your house into a home of the future.
Amazon, Apple and Google offer competing technology — known in the marketplace as “voice-activated assistants” — that will control your home thermostat, send smoke or carbon monoxide alerts, check the weather and set your alarm clock, among other daily tasks.
Amazon Echo’s cheaper versions start at $49.99 with higher-end models selling for $229.99. The Echo will play music on demand, control your lights and television and act as your alarm clock. “Alexa,” the voice of Amazon Echo, is also capable of locking doors, checking the weather and answer random questions. Some capabilities require compatible accessories, which are sold separately.
Apple’s Home app is capable of controlling all of your home’s smart accessories in conjunction with Siri, Apple’s well-known mobile assistant. The goal is one app to regulate not just your lights and thermostat but also your garage door, doorbell, security camera and even ceiling fans. Smart accessories range widely in price, from about $14.95 for a smart lightbulb to $249 for a retrofit deadbolt smart lock.
Google Home may not have a catchy name like Alexa or Siri but the idea behind it remains the same as competitors. Selling for $129, it is compatible with smart devices purchased separately and is voice activated. It will retrieve answers from Google, play music from services like Pandora and Spotify, and manage everyday tasks.
The Nest Thermostat is a programmable thermostat you can control using its phone app. Set the temperature, program the heat or air conditioning to turn on or off at a certain time, even get alerts for smoke or carbon monoxide in your home. The Nest Learning Thermostat costs $249 and adapts to your schedule and learns your habits to save energy and fuel costs after 1 week of use.