What looked like a dream while watching iron man and his Jarvis a few years ago, is slowly becoming a reality for most of us. Lately, market has been flooded by the likes of Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home. Being a strong believer of using the maximum potential of tech gadgets, here is how I made my home, a smart home under 5k.
Amazon Echo Dot a.k.a Alexa:
Alexa, that once helped me search for my missing wife, can also do something which is less intense, but way cooler: making your home, a smart home. It costs 4.5k approximately on a regular day but in a typical prime day sale (happens twice an year I guess) it costs you just 2,300 to own an Echo Dot along with a compatible smart bulb.
Once you own an echo dot, there are tons of use cases you can come up with. Undoubtedly, having a personal Jarvis tops that list.
As mentioned above, I got a free Syska Smart bulb which otherwise costs about Rs. 650, if purchased separately. Apart from the basic function of switching on and off using voice, a couple of amazing features it offers are:
- Ability to set a brightness level ranging from 1% to 100%. This way I could use the same light as night light by dimming it down as per my requirement.
- It has a whole spectrum of colors to offer. Often, my three year old niece, would use it to memorize different colors. Learning couldn’t be more fun for a kid.
- I could now set an Alexa routine involving the bulb. As an example, triggering the keyword: “Good Night Alexa” would set the brightness to 5%, change the color of the light to blue and will start playing some sleepy music.
Universal Remote Control:
I purchased this universal remote control device from a brand called Zook. Again from an Amazon prime day sale and it costed me 1k. A universal remote control can actually convert any non smart appliance to a smart one provided it is controlled by an infrared remote (which generally is the case with all the devices).
Remember our Nokia phones and older Samsung phones had this capability of controlling our TV? In principal, Zook universal remote using the same IR blaster technology to communicate with our devices (AC, TV, Set top box). Just that instead of a physical button, it takes commands from Alexa over the internet.
I can now simply ask Alexa to turn my TV, AC set top box on and off. Also, there is a possibility of changing channels using voice. Imagine a hot summer day and you have been drenching in sweat for so long now. How cool would it be to turn on your AC even before you reach home? And please tell me its not just me who has to search for the remote every damn time I need it.
This has the capability of making any electrically powered wired device as a smart one. There are multiple options to choose from, in this space. You can actually go with an entire smart power strip from Belkin. However I purchased a Syska smart plug from Amazon that costed me Rs. 899.
So lets be real. Our dads have terrorized us so much about the battery exploding in case we leave our phones charging overnight. I actually believe it now. This plug has the ability to go off after a particular timer that you set. Sigh! Also, my wife has this anxiety kicking in as soon as we leave the house. She tends to question herself regarding every appliance. A smart plug takes care of that too! (I still wish that someone would make a smart gas stove some day though)
For a tech loving kid, this has not been less than a dream come true. Who doesn’t want to be the real life iron man (well, almost).
On the setting up of these devices, I’d rate them a 6/10 and I believe if you plan to purchase it for your parents, you may want to set it up for them.
With that being said, my experience with these devices has not been that rosy after all. There are some glitches every now and then which I believe will get resolved with new updates coming in. Common hiccups include these devices not listening to you at times. Or may be Alexa prompting ‘okay’ after your command but still ignoring it. In totality, I think we are on the right track when it comes to home automation for upper middle class. Making a smart home under 5k, was never real before this!