• Gregan McMahon

Smart Home Tech - Getting Started

Like everything else in the tech world, smart home systems are getting faster, cheaper and more powerful. But pulling it all together sometimes can be complicated.


How do different pieces of hardware (lights, locks, voice controllers, security cameras etc) work together?


Which apps do you need and how do you set them up?


What if something goes wrong when I'm setting it up and it doesn't work properly - will I just have wasted a heap of money?


Today I want to go through some of the basics of Low-Cost Smart Home Tech - I hope you find it useful.


The power of voice

The first step to a smart home is usually a device that lets you use your voice and a smartphone app control other appliances in the home.


The biggest names in this space are the tech titans Google, Apple, Amazon and (to a lesser extent) Facebook. All of these have "smart speaker" products which can recognise you voice (in fact multiple voices in a household or support group) and provide personalised answers and actions - as well as playing your favourite music!

Google Home

Can control house worth of smart appliances, including multiple Google Nest Minis - uses Google Assistant works with both iOS and Android.

RRP around $145.


Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)

Good for controlling single rooms. iOS and Android. RRP around $49.


Apple HomePod

Apple HomeKit main smart speaker. Powered by Siri software. Optimised for iOS - does not support Android. RRP around $300.



Amazon Echo with Alexa

Powered by Alexa software which supports lots of third party devices - but mostly optimised for US market. RRP around $149.



Amazon Dot (3rd Gen) with Alexa

Comparable to the Google Nest Mini. RRP around $49.


Portal from Facebook (powered by Alexa)

Focuses mainly on video calling but has Alexa software capability.

RRP $279 for Portal, $1999 for Portal Mini.

Most self and plan managed NDIS Participants should be able to claim the cost of both the hardware and assistance to get it set up and working (including training and a customised "how-to" manual) from Core NDIS funding (providing it can be shown to be reasonable and necessary).


Ultimately the capabilities of each of the three hardware/software platforms - Google Home with Google Assistant, AppleHomePod and Siri, Amazon Echo with Alexa - is similar.


I have found Google and Amazon to be the most flexible as they work with both iPhone and Android devices - and Google's voice recognition especially for Australian accents is by far the best of the bunch.


All of the speakers come with Apps that let you link and control lighting and switches and other appliances remotely from anywhere with an internet connection as well as with you voice at home.


We will look at the benefits of setting up home appliances with your smart speaker in our next blog post.


Thanks for listening!


Gregan


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