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A Techies Dream

I think just about any techie secretly dreams of, or already has a hybrid type of smart home.  I have been toying with various ideas over the last year or two about how I could make our home more automated.  When you think about smart homes, you might think about similar technology to Star Trek or futuristic shows.   I think we are now at the point where we can add some of these things in our lives.  For example, I have a wishlist of items I would like to use to automate our home just ever so slightly and still make it very landlord friendly:

  1. Phillips Hue Smart Lighting system
    • You can control the lights with your phone or computer, changing the colors of the light, dimming to certain levels, or scheduling them to turn on/off at certain times with optional gradual dimming to full light or to no light.  
  2. August Smart Lock
    • This is a pretty landlord friendly deadbolt lock that keeps the existing tumbler for standard keys as well as an automated lock which unlocks the deadbolt when you approach it with your phone or via a secured command.  This is useful if you are carrying a load of groceries and can not grab your keys easily.
  3. Voice recognition Systems
    • Google Home already does this and it can differentiate between who is talking to it
    • Amazon’s Echo does this as well but does not offer voice differentiation.
    • Old Android Tablet or SmartPhone which has Google Voice built in - (Pretty much a Google home at that point)


Using the voice recognition abilities, there are some pretty cool things that can be done.

You can control music streaming either through home networked computer or via other device on home network (Roku,Android TV Box, or smartphone)
Using an Android phone with IR broadcaster, you can set the proper inputs on home theater to allow music, play movies or TV Shows.   

An example of various commands that can be sent to accomplish this:

         Add <event> at <time> to my calendar.

         What is the Current weather?

         Dim lights (Phillips Hue)

         Adjust temperature in home (Nest thermostat - not Landlord Friendly)

         Lock my doors (Smart Locks)

         I want to watch TV (Turns on TV with the Android)

         Watch a Movie/Watch (Movie Name)  (Same as TV)

         Watch Netflix

         Watch Hulu

         Watch Vudu

         Watch Roku

         Listen to Music
                 On internet
                 On FM Radio
                 On Network
                        By artist or album or song name
                By genre
                By mood (call up playlist and play it)

       Tell me a joke (randomly choose joke from the web)
       Inspire me (randomly choose an inspirational quote from the web)
       Call <name> on my <name of phone>  (Example, Call My Wife on my HTC Phone)


A smart home would also have common courtesies:

  • Greet person when they arrive home - based on who walks in door, it greets each person by name.  (Hello Keith, Hello Mandy etc..)  This is done through monitoring which phone has entered into a defined space set up so as not to trigger the system with the presence of phones in the same room.
  • Use context appropriate responses in the form of acknowledgements based on our input.  
  • Reminders of upcoming appointments verbally
  • Be Quiet!  - schedule off time when it does not communicate.


Safety and Security - when properly connected, a smart home could also monitor live camera footage for signs of breaking into the apartment using software.  Upon confirming the event, alert is sent to my phone and snapshot is taken.  Android has software called Alfred which already does this!  Taking an older Android phone, you load the app on it, let it run, and you can view your live video anywhere on your newer phone.

The technology behind all of this is already around us.  We have access to Smart Washers/Dryers which send a message to your phone when the cycle is complete, Smart Refrigerators that alert you when it is time to replace your used product, or if enabled, automatically order it through Amazon.  Smart Dishwashers which also let you know when dishes are clean.  Above appliances can also alert of service needed requirements.

We have smart phones which are more powerful than some of today’s computers already in our hands which can decode and control the automation such as the light bulbs and door lock, recognize our speech and pass commands to each device.   Once the command is passed, the device then processes what it was told.  

Eventually, I will be updating our lighting first, then who knows where after that?  It is all now becoming more commonplace and the costs of obtaining these devices is starting to become less insane!

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