Home Automation Is Fun and Simple
If you haven’t started with home automation yet, now is the time. Even if you have, now is the time to add one more thing: Amazon Echo Dot, better known as Alexa.
On its own, Amazon Echo Dot ($50) is a great deal. It plays music (although only loud enough for one room), creates shopping lists and a whole bunch more. Yet, it does so much more, and it’s my pick for a great gift for anyone in your life. Alexa has “skills” that you can add to your device to extend its basic features, and Amazon has opened it up for businesses to develop more skills. It’s a very powerful device.
Home automation is far and away the most useful thing about Echo after simple music. Echo Dot makes home automation better. Here is how I use mine:
Alexa, turn on Netflix
I already own a Logitech Harmony Remote Hub, which allows me to control my TV/stereo/DVD player with a single click. Alexa integrates with Harmony, and I can say any activity and Alexa passes it to Harmony. That is very helpful, since I can rarely find the remote, and when I can, it is still easier to say a command than find the button to click.
Alexa, set downstairs to 72 degrees.
I own the Google Nest thermostat and I love it. It just got way better because it was too hard to walk to the thermostat before so I used my phone to set it. Now, I just ask Alexa to change the temperature.
Alexa, turn off the kitchen light.
I own Belkin WEMO devices (although I now recommend Philips Hue over WEMO because they are easier and have surpassed WEMO since I bought WEMO), which can be controlled from an app on my phone. Just like the Nest, I no longer need to use the app, I can just ask Alexa to turn off the lights.
Google Home is another great option for home automation. I only recommend Echo Dot because it is less expensive and currently offers more functionality. Within a year, it might be the better choice, but at $129 the Echo is a much better value (and I like the small footprint of Echo Dot).
Home automation is going to continue to grow as well as enrich our lives. There are still some items that are too expensive to be worth buying (none of my appliances are Wi-Fi or automation compatible). However, items like lights, thermostats, remotes, etc., will deliver immediate value to nearly everyone. With Google Home and Echo Dot, the time for everyone to start upgrading your homes is now.
Once you have Alexa, ask her to sing you a song, tell you a joke or one of these 100-plus other fun things to do with Alexa.