Get smart with home technology

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

Every family has someone that is at least mildly obsessed with gadgets and all things tech. For us, that person is my brother Raymond. He’s our go-to-guy when we have any questions about which new phone we should buy or how we can troubleshoot a computer that’s on the fritz. He seems to have a knack for how things work, constantly stays on top of what’s new and most importantly, what has been shown to work best.

With Raymond’s birthday coming up this week, it’s no wonder that his wish list is filled with tiny gadgets to make his home as tech-savvy as he is. The best part is that smart home technology is actually quite affordable and can be implemented piece by piece. Outfitting a whole home all-at-once, or gradually, are both viable options. If you want to make your home a bit smarter, consider these things:

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SmartThings Hub. Referred to as the “brain” of the SmartThings platform, it connects your smart devices, allowing you to use your smartphone to control your home’s energy usage, lighting or home security from virtually anywhere. The Hub connects to your Internet router, takes less than 15 minutes to install and is compatible with hundreds of smart devices. The Hub retails for about $99. Look for it online or at electronics stores.

The WeMo Light Switch. Made by Belkin, this switch is easy to install and replaces your standard light switch. It allows you to control your lights with your smartphone, through its free app (for android and iOS). You can customize a set schedule or use the switch’s special functionality to set it to your city’s specific sunrise and sunset times (it updates every day, depending on the city you specify). The switch retails for about $49. Find it at home improvement and electronics stores or online retailers.

Remember that even if you decide to purchase products piecemeal, you will still want to make sure they work together. Plan for future items from the start. Certain platforms, such as SmartThings, are known to work well with a variety of devices, and there is even a website detailing the numerous products that are compatible.

Another important thing to consider is looking at products slated for future release. Apple’s HomeKit, expected to be available for purchase later this year, will allow you to control your smart devices from an iOS device using just your voice (through Apple’s voice assistance, Siri). If you’re an Apple fanatic, you can start planning ahead by implementing products already said to be HomeKit-enabled.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.