Taking Control: The Journey to a Tailored Smart HOME Experience

An Unplanned Smart HOME Adventure

Just bought a new house? You’ll have to contend with the usual plumbing issues, the dated wiring, maybe the seasonal flood… Nope, now we have smart home shit thrown on top of all of it Like many buyers, I assumed that the worst thing the new house would have would be outdated plumbing, or maybe long-forgotten wiring. The seasonal flood was less likely. Instead, I discovered that I would have to contend with the mildly advanced problems of the 21st century: smart home shit.

Smart HOME Bliss and Blunders

The Inherited Smart HOME: A Mixed Bag

When we finally moved into our brand-new townhouse, I was greeted by a whole suite of smart-home devices I had to figure out how to use: two Honeywell thermostats, a Kwikset smart lock, a MyQ Garage Door Controller, and a couple of Eero Wi-Fi extenders – one in my bedroom and another adjacent to it. While I was grateful for the unexpected gift, I was a bit apprehensive: would these devices streamline my life or make it more complicated?

The Standouts and the Letdowns

Garage Greatness Unlocked

The MyQ Garage Door Opener, though, was my smart-home gear contest winner: the app is integrated seamlessly, and the device itself is hubless, so it was the easiest break-in product I used. Then it had a built-in camera. It made me think, ‘This is what the whole smart home could be like!

Front Door Frustrations

When I first opened my garage using the August app, my excitement was best described as juvenile: remote entry in my pocket. But when my initial elation wore off, it was met with the frustration I felt while fumbling with unfriendly emergency keys and wrestling to get the Kwikset smart lock to work with a compatible hub. After not too long at all, it wasn’t hard to miss the good old deadbolt.

The Midfield: Room for Growth in the SMART HOME

The remaining smart devices I encountered were functional but variously underwhelming. The Honeywell thermostat kept us warm (or cool) while the Eero extenders kept us connected to the internet. But the promise of a fully integrated smart home still felt out of reach. What I really needed, I somehow intuited, was a scene that looked more like my own, with devices that were integrated in a way that felt right for me: perhaps another video doorbell to tie the house to the outside world and my remote office.

Crafting the Smart HOME of My Dreams

Bridging the Gaps

I realised that the route to enjoying a smart home wasn’t in accepting the housesitter’s digital hand-me-down digital setup, but in curating a collection of kit that suited me, and imagining what the future might look like if everything is used for something, and adds real convenience – and makes life simpler.

Embracing BYO Smart HOME

The main things I learnt on the way are obvious: the best smart home is one that’s tailored exactly to the people who live in it; it’s about curation, and it’s about integration. And sometimes it’s about junking everything and starting all over again. The path to the future is one that’s well-researched, well-customised and still, finally, experimental. It’s about reaching the smart home set-up you want, not the one everyone else has.

Exploring the Concept of HOME

Ultimately, this project has highlighted one central fact: a home is not just a house that you live in, it is what you do in that space that makes it a home. Integrating smart home technology is a modern reinvention of this centuries-old truth – to make our homes places that help us to live, recognise us, and promote our daily activities.

A home that is truly home, however, is embedded in the digital booster packs we need for our lifestyle, whether we’re the inheritors of a set-up when we moved into the house, or our own curators of gadgets. Above all, we want it to be smart, but not in the way we mean outside of technology. We want it to be smart in the way that your grandmother was, brave and practical and wonderfully unfailingly kind.

Jun 15, 2024
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