Cutting-Edge Comfort

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My parents are reasonably tech-savvy people, so I’d like to get them something kind of tech-related for Christmas this year. They have a nice house, but it’s getting a little older, so I thought perhaps some smart home technology might be a good choice. But now I have to research that stuff, because I really don’t know a thing about it. I can’t exactly tear open my parents’ walls to install the stuff, but I know there are some types of smart home products that don’t require any remodeling or professional installation. But I also don’t want to give my parents one brand of device and find out later that they wanted to use another, making my gift useless because it doesn’t work with the app they use, or something like that. I’m just not sure where to start – any advice, experts?

A smart home is a powerful and convenient thing. It’s also certainly a way to be on the cutting edge of technology: despite their advantages, smart homes are not yet quite as popular as you might think. Fewer than 20% of homes are “smart” right now, though that number is expected to top 35% by 2021.

The advantage of a smart home are clear, say the servicers at AccuTemp. Being able to control your home’s environment – including things like lights and temperature – from a smartphone app is incredibly convenient when you’re at home, and even more of a life-saver when you’re out and about. Not sure if you left your lights on when you left for vacation? No problem: your smart home has you covered.

You’re right to note that smart homes are not all the same – there are full-home systems, systems built into existing products from brands that were always known for things like thermostats or lighting (even before the smart home revolution), and systems you can put together piece by piece by buying one smart plug or fixture at a time.

Your issue of brand compatibility is one to keep in mind, but it’s not the end of the world. Many major brands of smart home devices work with AI personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa. That makes it easy to integrate different brands of devices into the same smart home system by just using Alexa or one of her competitors as a go-between or “hub.” You can also use, well, a hub: a “smart home hub” does exactly what you need, acting as a go-between so that your parents can use just one interface to deliver a set of varied commands to all different smart home devices.

Setting up a system in this way opens up tons of possibilities. With a hub and a few basics, like smart plugs or a smart thermostat, your parents will be in a great position to build out their system with more niche items. There are smart home devices designed specifically for pool owners, say retailers at Monarch Pools and Spas. And if that’s not specific enough for you, then check out the smart Britta pitcher and the smart toothbrush (yes, really).

From the routine to the outlandish, smart homes are changing the way we live. Yours is a great gift idea, and you should have no trouble getting something your parents can use if you opt for a hub and a few basic plugs. Happy holidays!

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

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