Smart Homes for Dummies

In the Eldertech Advisors group I am in, the focus this week was on Smart Home technology.  Smart Home technology can help so many people stay safe and independent, not just the aging.  But, is there a difference in what the Smart Home devices offer?  Google, Alexa, and Siri- all offer opportunities to create a Smart Home.  Some great resources were shared, and I wanted to share some of those with you. 

Womans hands holding a tablet with icon of a house behind it, showing images of devices that can be connected to Smart Homes.

The first question is, which Smart Home system should you start with?  This article provides an excellent comparison of the features of the different systems- .  But really, I think the best system is one that the end user will be most comfortable using.  If you are already comfortable using Google, for example, then perhaps the Google Home system will be best for you.  Alexa is also a great home system, and they have one feature no other system has yet- Alexa Together.  This is a paid service that allows close family members to set reminders and alerts, even get notified of a fall detection if a watch is being used. More information on Alex Together can be found here- .  

The quality and type of WiFi available is also a consideration.  All of these systems rely on WiFi.  They are designed to work well on a home WiFi system.  They do not work if you are using a phone as a hotspot for your WiFi.  There may also be issues surrounding privacy and access if you rely on a public WiFi system.  

Next, you have to consider what you want the Smart Home System to do.  They all can control lights by voice, play music, set timers and reminders, and even create shopping lists.  However, each system has certain features and ways of interacting that others may not.  This website is full of great information on what each system can do

Finally, Ability Tools of California created a 5 part series of videos all about Smart Homes, and it covers accessibility, how to set one up, and funding for the tools among other topics.  They also created several short videos on Smart Home tech.  All of these videos can be found in the Ability Tools playlist on the CFILC 1982 YouTube channel- 

In my home, we have both Alexa and Google smart home devices, and we use them in different ways.  We use our Alexa devices to control our environment- turning lights on and off, and setting timers are two main things we do.  When we want to ask a question such as how much an elephant weighs, however, we found the Google system provides better answers than Alexa.  We also had to put a WiFi booster in our home, to ensure our WiFi coverage remains strong throughout the home. Just another thing to consider!