Top five ways to control your smart home

harmony elite

If you’re reading this then there’s a fair chance you have invested in, or are thinking about investing in, smart home devices.

You will already be aware that there are a multitude of different smart products on the market, and in the past the majority of them have not been compatible with one another.

Manufacturers have responded to this by adopting common automation protocols, such as Zigbee and Z-Wave, allowing certain smart devices to connect and respond to each other. The use of common protocols also allows for the creation of more universal control hubs, which can be used to operate several different types of device via a single hub.

In addition, services such as If This Then That (IFTTT) have been launched. The “recipes” hosted on the platform act as a go-between, connecting different smart devices, applications and platforms; and allowing them to respond to each other when certain conditions are met, i.e. if this happens, then do that.

This means that it is becoming easier to integrate several different smart devices into a single system, making all of them more convenient and enjoyable to control.

What follows are our top five ways to control your smart home.

#1: Use a control hub

There are two key things to look for when selecting a control hub: Functionality and compatibility.

Functionality is concerned with how much you can do and how easily you can do it. Compare the features of a few different hubs, and try to find some authoritative reviews by respected technology publications, such as Wired and PC Mag.

Compatibility is simply how many different smart devices the hub can control. As a minimum, look for hubs that use Zigbee and Z-Wave (two of the most common automation protocols).

#2: Use your voice

Some voice-activated products, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, can be used to control many popular smart devices, such as Philips Hue lighting and the Nest smart thermostat; and as an added bonus, devices such as these are useful and entertaining in their own right.

#3: Build your own robot

Robots make smart devices work together under conditions that you determine, such as turning on your heating when you are nearly home from work (based on your phone’s location).

Some control hubs allow you to programme robots using the hub itself, which is great for using a single hub to programme all of your devices.

As an alternative option, the IFTTT platform allows you to create your own recipes, specifying what you want your individual devices to do under certain conditions.

#4: Use someone else’s robot

An increasing number of smart devices and hubs now have their own channel on IFTTT. This allows you to switch on pre-programmed recipes, such as changing the colour of your Philips Hue lights to blue when it rains, asking Alexa to find your phone, and even alerting you when the International Space Station is overhead.

#5: Go retro

If you’d rather control your smart home with a more traditional remote control, Logitech have created the Harmony Elite. You use the all-in-one remote, in conjunction with the included Harmony Hub, to control your smart devices by pressing buttons rather than tapping a screen or talking to a machine!

Take control of your smart home

Hopefully this article has given you some ideas for taking control of your smart devices.

While the smart home industry is still young and somewhat fragmented, manufacturers are working hard to make their products easier to integrate with other systems and controllers, resulting in more control for you – the customer.