According to Statista, forecasts predict global spending on the IoT to reach 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars by 2023 and the number of connected devices to reach 75 billion by 2025. Those are insane numbers, but what is the Internet of Things anyway? And why is there such a great demand for it?
The IoT refers to a network of devices including mobile phones, smart watches, and smart home devices that are connected to the internet and with each other. In this network, these devices receive, process, and share information with one another to function as a system.
There are many reasons why investing in smart home devices and having a smart home system is growing on people now, some of the reasons being efficiency, security, and flexibility. After all, if managing your home could be made significantly easier with devices that can be controlled remotely, why shouldn’t it?
From setting reminders, timers, and alarms to adjusting lighting and air conditioning all within a single device, smart home automation enables you to get things done your way without having to lift a finger.
If you’re thinking about taking your first steps into your smart home experience, you’re in the right place. Here’s a simple breakdown of the best available smart home assistants and accessories that you can start with.
Smart Home Assistants
Smart home assistants or virtual assistants are basically voice controlled software that connect you to every other smart device in your home. Whether interacted with through a smart speaker or your smartphone, they function as the central point through which you can communicate with other smart devices to receive information and perform tasks.
When choosing a smart home assistant to build a smart ecosystem around, it’s important to consider their compatibility range in general and their compatibility with devices you plan to own or already own. Here are the 3 main home assistants in the market and who they’re best for:
1. Amazon Alexa
Amazon Alexa works for all Alexa products whether it’s the Amazon Echo or an Alexa-enabled third-party device. It’s the best choice for homes equipped with Amazon smart devices. The biggest advantage to the Amazon Alexa smart home app is simply that it has, among the rest, the biggest compatibility range with smart accessories.
2. Google Assistant
Google Assistant works best with Google smart speakers like the Google Nest Mini or Google Home, and is most compatible with homes equipped with Android devices. Although it trails behind Alexa by a bit in terms of compatibility range, in comparison with the other popular home assistants, Google is often crowned the smartest and most flexible in its responses.
3. Apple HomeKit
Most commonly paired with the Siri-powered Apple HomePod, Apple HomeKit works best for anyone with an existing Apple ecosystem or device. Though a bit exclusive and not as widely enabled as Alexa and Google are, HomeKit is still compatible with a big range of third-party smart accessories and remains a great choice for its highly praised ease of use and comprehensive user interface.
Smart Home Accessories
Picking out smart devices to furnish your home with is a fun process. When technology has come this far, you have plenty of cool stuff to choose from and customize your home with, no matter which ecosystem you’ve decided to build. Here are some of the current most popular smart home devices and systems.
If you’re a fan of being creative with ambiance and atmosphere, this one’s for you. The Hue Bridge by Philips Hue is a smart LED light hub that lets you customize and save your indoor and outdoor lighting settings through a single app. Condition your lights to turn on when the sensor detects you in the living room, or sync your lights with the rhythm of your music as it plays — Philips Hue works offline and is compatible with all three of the mentioned smart home assistants.
If you’re a worrier when it comes to electricity bills, you don’t have to be anymore. Wemo smart plugs feed you real-time energy reports on your devices and give you control over your power usage from wherever you are. Their smart light switches and plugs operate on WiFi and are also compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit with the Wemo Bridge.
But enough about lights. What about air conditioners? Universal remotes are a thing, but when you have multiple units in your home, you’d still have to walk to each room to turn AC units on and off. Panasonic Comfort Cloud has the solution you’re looking for. The app, compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, allows you to remotely access multiple AC units all in one place.
If you’re looking for one place and one brand for everything, there are a few good places to browse. From alarms, sensors, and audio systems to air and water purifiers — Google Nest, XiaoMi, and Amazon have it all.
If you’re an Apple user, however, you can browse Apple HomeKit compatible accessories for a variety of products that work best with the Apple ecosystem.
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