I occupy my free time thinking about how to have more free time. We all have 24 hours in a day. I plan to free up as many minutes as possible to do what I like, instead of what I need to do.
So my current obsession is converting my home into a smart home.
WHAT YOU NEED
- A “mothership” or “command center”. I use Amazon Echo and Echo Dot (Alexa is the digital assistant), because it is cheap and it does the job. There are also Google Home (Google Assistant is the digital assistant) and Apple’s HomePod (Siri is the digital assistant). They are all basically smart speakers.
- Strong WiFi connection.
- Your fleet of smart devices (devices that can be controlled by your “command center”):
- Smart light bulbs (I like TP link because it does not require a hub). A hub is a separate device that acts like a middleman between your Amazon echo and the smart devices because they cannot communicate directly. In my humble opinion, it is a hassle.
- Smart switches ( Belkin or TP link do not require a hub)
- Vacuum (I love my iRobot)
- Thermostat (I love Nest)
- Security camera ( Nest)
- Smart locks (August)
- TV (just use Amazon fire stick)
- Doorbell (have not tried that yet)
HOW DO I USE MY AMAZON ECHO
- Play music. It is a smart speaker after all. I am an Amazon Prime member so I have access to amazing playlists. My toddler loves it when I tell it to play baby music.
- Convert units when I cook. “How many ounces in 4 tablespoon?”
- Ask for the weather before I get dressed.
- Quick newsflash before I head out the door.
- My commute time before I head out the door.
- Set timer for…. (before I burn my banana bread, again!)
- Remind me to (eg. take off my face mask) in 10 min (before I walk out the door with it absentmindedly!). How many times have you told your partner to remind you of something later and he/she forgets?!
- Start the vacuum, pause (so I can answer my phone without having to go hunt down the vacuum to hit the pause button), send it home.
- Switch off the lights. Oh my god I sound lazy! But as I am dashing out the door with my screaming toddler in my arms while balancing his lunch bag, it is invaluable to not have to put down said toddler and go switch off the lights.
- “Spy” on my kid by turning on the camera.
- Amazon Echo has a “drop in” function. I have an Echo Dot in each room. They function as intercom. If you have kids in different room, you can get them to the dinner table without doing repeated trips to their rooms. Or, is this your 4th trip to your kid’s room to wake him/her for school? This is for you.
- Alexa, lock my door. Because, I am always in the middle of something when I panic about potentially having an unlocked door.
- Thermostat. My husband and I wrangle the thermostat a lot. I’m hot (temperature wise) and he is cold. Not having to make multiple trips to the thermostat to fine tune our room temperature is nice!
- Amazon shopping. Truthfully I have not done that yet. I am paranoid that I would accidentally order 500 boxes of diaper, instead of 1 box with 500 diapers.
- I ask it random questions: spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, calculate a complicated math equation, what is the meaning of life, and if I am really bored, i ask Alexa to tell me a joke. It tells pretty decent joke, although I try to look dignified when I catch myself laughing at a machine.
I started my smart home conversion 6 months ago and I am still learning. It was super easy to set up and I am loving the convenience. This is the poor man’s way to get a personal assistant. By the way, I receive absolutely zero, zilch, nada money for this. (Although Amazon is welcomed to reward me handsomely anytime.)