You can’t visit a construction fair or open a trade magazine without seeing something about the Smart Home and the new fleet of ‘smart’ devices. Everyone has an opinion on what the Smart Home should look like, but there’s one thing we're all agreed on: The Smart Home is the way forward. It not only results in better control over your house, it also offers you comfort and peace of mind. But to what extent have consumers jumped onto the Smart Home revolution band wagon? We asked our Flemish and Dutch customers and the results were astonishing. It turned out that no less than 75% of those surveyed owned Smart Home products. Smart lamps (45.76%) and smart plugs (44%) were the most popular. One in four customers also owns a smart thermostat and/or smart security system. But which devices are real must-haves? Joost, R&D Director and the tech guy at Smappee, has created a list for you.
“As soon as someone rings the doorbell, I receive a notification. Through the built-in camera, I can see on my smartphone who is at the door. But you can also choose to speak to the person via the camera. So, if you see someone you don’t recognise, you can ask the reason for their visit there and then.”
“The D-Link camera takes photos if movement is detected at particular times. It then sends these photos to my smartphone. When my children were at secondary school, the camera was in the living room and I could request photos between 16:00 and 17:00 to check whether they had got home safely. When I’m on holiday, D-Link gives me confidence there have been no unwanted visitors. Another great feature is the fact that the camera can be used to ‘Skype’: you can choose to speak to the people who appear on the screen via the app. A great way to keep my wife company while she’s cooking if I’m not home yet.”
“I’m a huge fan of home automation, including smart roller blinds. They go up or down automatically depending on the sunlight, but I can also operate them manually via the widget on my smartphone with a simple swipe and tap. Thanks to IFTTT you can be very creative with automation. A good tip is to lower the blinds as soon as the television is turned on.”
“Phillips Hue lamps are ideal for creating a particular atmosphere in your home, as you can set the colour they produce and when they turn on or off. In the morning, I’m woken up naturally as the lamps become gradually brighter from 6:50 onwards. Thanks to the Smappee monitor, which knows when a device is turned on or off, the Phillips Hue lamps in the bedroom immediately glow a warm orange colour as soon as the coffee machine in the kitchen is turned on, thanks to an IFTTT formula. Then I know it really is time to get up. In the evening, the Phillips Hue lamps in the living room are turned on automatically as soon as a member of the family comes within a 100m radius of the house.”
“Little by little, the smart thermostat has learnt my family’s lifestyle. Tado now knows exactly when my wife and I get home from work and when the children come back from school. When no one is at home, Tado automatically adjusts to a stand-by temperature of 18 °C. Because it predicts when someone will get home, the thermostat automatically switches to comfort mode half an hour before the first family member gets in. So the house is always lovely and warm and we waste significantly less energy when everyone is out.”
6. Apple TV
“The Apple TV isn't actually a TV, but a box that can be connected to your television set using an HDMI cable. If you don’t have a smart TV, this is the ideal solution to make your ordinary television ‘intelligent’ at a low cost. The Apple TV includes loads of apps for watching Netflix or renting a film, but also to stream Spotify through the audio output, for example.”
7. Amazon Echo
“This device is so much more than a Bluetooth speaker: Whether you want to know the time, what’s on the calendar or what the weather is like, Alexa, the voice of Amazon Echo, will tell you. During a romantic dinner with my wife, I only have to say, ‘Alexa, play romantic music’, and I know the evening will go smoothly. Alexa also often gets used as a timer when cooking. You just ask: ‘Alexa, please set a timer for 11 minutes’. One very handy thing about Amazon Echo is that it automatically searches for other smart devices in the house. So, Amazon Echo discovered my Philips Hue lamps itself, meaning that when I am in the living room I can ask Alexa to turn the lights off in my office. Alexa can even recognise questions or orders when other people are speaking or music is playing. The only conditions are that you have to start the sentence with ‘Alexa’ and speak English or German - though I expect other languages to follow soon.”
“This fridge is still on my wish list. It has an inbuilt tablet with endless possibilities. In the app, you can see an image of what’s in the fridge, so you can go shopping straight after work without needing to make a list first. When you’re having breakfast in the morning, you can consult the calendar to find out what the day has in store for you. You can also take notes, play music etc. Eating breakfast with your whole family suddenly takes on a new dimension. It comes with a price tag but, if you ask me, this family hub offers value for your money.”
9. Smart plugs
“There’s always someone who forgets to completely turn off an appliance or power strip. One major consumer is our audiovisual corner, which consists of our television, digicorder, Apple TV and amplifier. If you forget to turn the power strip off at night, you’ve wasted a lot of consumption on sleep mode. So the power strip is connected to a Comfort Plug™. Of course, you can also use smart plugs for many other applications. During Christmas, I have the lights on the Christmas tree turn on as soon as the sun goes down, for example.”
“Finally, of course you have the Smappee energy monitor. As head of R&D, I am involved every day in researching and improving the product features. Among other things, we have planned a major expansion of the Smart Home applications, but the biggest advantage of Smappee of course remains the fact that you can monitor your total energy consumption and the consumption of your household appliances remotely and at any time. So, you know exactly what is happening at home and how much it will cost you.”
Note: to protect the privacy of Joost, only official product images have been used in this blogpost.