27 July 2022

In 1962 The Jetsons immortalised a vision of the future with flying cars and robot maids, neither of which we have as of now. I imagine however that the science fiction writers of that era would struggle to fathom how today’s smart home technologies actually work, because in some cases this tech feels like magic!

Let’s take a look at where smart home technology is at, and some of the reasons why you might want to look at these continually evolving technologies.



Smart Speakers, Smart Displays and Voice Assistants

The uses for smart speakers and smart displays are virtually limitless. In my home, we use them to control smart home technology such as our lighting, for playing a podcast or radio show or setting a timer in the kitchen and a bedtime reminder for my child. They are also handy for putting items on your shopping list without lifting a finger!

I think virtually every home would benefit from a smart speaker. And with entry level smart speakers often starting around $50 they’re the most affordable they have ever been. New Zealand has gone from being late to get smarter speakers to now having a broad range of options – especially from Amazon with their Echo devices, Google’s selection of smart speakers and displays and Apple with the HomePod Mini.

Of course, there are privacy considerations and you need to decide where to use them. However, if you use a smartphone then those considerations are very similar.


Smart Lighting

Would it be handy to have certain lights inside or outside your home just turn on automatically at dusk, would you like the lighting on you to adjust when you are on a video call, or for your lights to slowly break the darkness to help you wake in the morning? These are all simple possibilities in your home now thanks to very simple smart lighting options from the likes of Philips Hue, Nanoleaf and others.


Security Cameras and Doorbell Cameras

The benefits of doorbell cameras will vary from home to home. I’ve appreciated knowing when I’m away from home there is a record of anyone who comes to the door, and see a courier has dropped something on my doorstep – and once when travelling overseas I was able to answer my doorbell (with a video call) from my smartphone and ask the courier to come back in a few days when I would be back at my home.

Various camera options are available for the smart home, to alert you of motion detected on your property – or if an unknown person is inside your home whilst you are away. Helpful so you can do your part of neighbourhood watch or to know when guests are arriving at a bach or Airbnb property.


Routines, Automations and Carbon Reduction

A lot of the magic of the smart home comes in the way that a mix of technologies can work together and be configured to carry out various routines and automations. For instance, most of us could both save money and reduce the environmental impact caused by power wastage. This might include automated turning on and off lights, heaters or air conditioning based on which room you are in or the time of day. Or adjusting your heat pump to turn off or use less power in situations that suit you – such as when you are away or asleep.


So much more!

For homes with children, using smart home technology can be a fun way of helping educate them about technology amongst other things.

Whilst currently there is not a big range of larger smart appliances such as smart fridges, smart washing machines and smart ovens, the choices and capabilities will continue to expand over time. Smaller appliances such as a smart kettle that boils the jug at the same time each morning – or heats water to a specific temperature rather than boiling, may be useful in some homes.

Smart Plugs enable turning power on or off (via our voice, an automation or through a smartphone app) for electrical items around the home that might lack smart features of their own.

Smart TVs can now be controlled by our smartphones and by voice. They can give access to view and control other smart devices – such as viewing who is ringing your video doorbell.

In summary, there are lots of smart home options in the market now – with almost everyone able to gain some benefit. So, just one question remains – is it time to smarten up your home?