Over the last few years, there has been a revolution in smart home technology. Initially aimed at the regular tech-loving market, it’s proved to be truly transformative for anyone with physical challenges. Here, we round up our five favourite smart home products.
Smart technology spans a wide range of gadgets, from washing machines that can be controlled from your smartphone to doorbells with cameras that enable you to see who’s at your door from anywhere in the house or out and about. Depending on what you choose to help you with your daily life, these devices can truly give back a small amount of independence.
There is a lot to choose from though. First off, you’ll need a central hub through which everything can connect. Items can then be added to this, but you’ll need to check compatibility – not all hubs link up with every smart product on the market.
To get you started, we’ve rounded up five useful smart products that will all connect, enabling you to make everyday tasks easier.
Do you own any of these products? Let us know how you’ve found it by leaving a review below in the comments section.
1. Amazon Echo – second-generation smart speaker with Alexa
This is the flagship of Amazon’s Echo range of smart hubs. It rivals Google’s Home and Apple’s HomeKit smart hubs, but is around £30 cheaper or nearly £120 in the case of Apple’s.
The Amazon Echo connects to a cloud-based voice service called Alexa. This allows you to perform a myriad of tasks including playing music, making calls, setting alarms and timers, managing to-do lists and much more – all using just your voice.
Controlling it and all compatible smart home devices mean it’s completely hands-free. We also think it has the best quality sound of the entire range and competes very well with other smart speakers out there.
Our Co-founder Martyn Sibley, who has an Echo, said: “My smartphone is amazing and enables me to do so much, but sometimes I’m too cold to use it or would rather not hold it.
Alexa has enabled me to play music and audiobooks so much easier. It connects with my Hive thermostat too, so I am able to adjust my heating from the comfort of my chair. I can also turn it off and on from bed and set a morning alarm to my favourite bands.”
2. Amazon Echo Spot – smart speaker with screen and Alexa
The Amazone Echo Sport is one of the newer additions to the range. While it’s a bit pricey (around £120 compared to £80 for the Amazon Echo), the addition of a webcam and screen makes this stylish design eligible for our number two slot.
The screen allows you to see music lyrics, photographs, flash videos, a clock and make video calls to other Echo devices – again, all totally hands-free. So, calling your friends and family or watching the latest YouTube video become seamless tasks that don’t require firing up your laptop or wrestling with your phone.
Like its larger sibling, it can also connect to other smart home devices, such as voice-controlled light bulbs and plugs (keep reading for more on that). This all helps to make life that little bit easier if you have mobility or dexterity problems.
3. Hive Active Light starter kit
This kit enables you to dim or turn your lights on and off with a simple voice command. They’re also long-lasting energy-efficient bulbs, so shouldn’t need changing for some time.
By downloading the Hive app to your smartphone, tablet or computer, you can also program a schedule of off/on commands for the Hive light bulbs to automatically follow. So you could, for example, set your living room light to come on every morning when you get up, and go off when you’ve gone to bed, meaning you don’t have to do anything.
It is compatible with Alexa – which is what enables you to control it with your voice – and comes with two smart bulbs to kick off your smart home adaptation. It’s easy to use and it is simple to add new items to it from the large range of compatible smart gadgets, such as the Hive thermostat to help you control your heating, or plug – scroll below for more.
4. Hive Active smart plug
This is one of the most useful pieces of kit in the whole Hive family of smart devices. The smart plug works like an adapter, plugging straight into the wall. You can then control any device plugged into it.
It works either through the Hive app, like with the Hive light bulbs, or a simple voice command through an Amazon Echo.
It can also be synchronised with Hive sensors. This allows, for instance, lamps to be turned on or a kettle to begin boiling when movement is detected. It means you could have your whole house seamlessly co-ordinated with your routines simply by entering a room.
5. Philips Hue smart bulb starter kit
The Philips Hue light bulbs, much like the Hive system, allow you to control lights and other devices through your phone or smart speaker using your voice. The range includes lights, sensors and light switches.
It too can work with Amazon’s Echo and is slightly cheaper than the Hive system. It is also compatible with Apple Homekit and allows you to synchronise it with other HomeKit-enabled devices.
By Disability Horizons
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