If you think smart homes begin and end at thermostats and lightbulbs, it might be time to revisit your system. Automating critical tasks like home security can ensure that your home is protected, even when you’re away. Not all smart home hubs are created equal, though, and automating a home security system will be easier if your hub supports more complex commands.
The Expanding Smart Home Market
The smart home market may be bigger than ever, but all smart home hubs share a few basic characteristics. First, nearly every smart home device on the market interfaces with all the basic AI-powered digital assistants, or smart assistants. Each smart assistant has its own repertoire of skills, or tasks, that it can complete based on voice commands. Simple commands, such as asking for the time, work on every digital assistant, but more complex commands, like activating a home security system, aren’t universal.
These three digital assistants can act as the main interface between you and your smart home security system.
Amazon’s Alexa (and the Echo smart speakers) is one of the most prolific virtual assistants on the market, at least by number of compatible devices. Almost all smart home appliances and devices interface with Alexa, making Amazon’s smart home speakers an attractive choice for most users. Alexa’s learning capabilities are a bit underwhelming when compared to other options, but with tens of thousands of skills, Alexa makes up for it in sheer options.
Google’s AI has some of the best communication skills on the market. Google Assistant remembers previously asked questions, gives more accurate answers and has some of the best voice recognition skills of any virtual assistant. While Google’s smart home hub lacks Alexa’s massive list of compatible devices, there’s enough smart home tech available to build a robust security system with Google.
Siri is relatively well-matched with Google Assistant for most skills, but Apple’s late entry into the smart home market significantly limits its pool of compatible devices. That said, many Apple fans are happy to settle for Siri so they can integrate their smart home tech with their laptops, iPads and smartphones.
Using a Smart Assistant for Home Security
There are lots of ways to take advantage of smart home automation to make your home safer. Syncing your security system with your smart assistant will make your system much easier to program and use – and you can even program smart triggers for additional layers of security. Here are five ways to use your smart assistant for home security.
Smart Home Hubs
Smart home hubs enhance typical smart home speakers, like the Amazon Echo, allowing additional programming and commands for specific smart home products. There are various hubs on the market, and each has a range of abilities, but most hubs work directly with your digital assistant as a second command center in your smart home interface. These systems often come loaded with additional features, like the ability to act as a backup battery for your security system.
IFTTT compatibility is a must for your smart home security system. IFTTT stands for “If this, then that” – an online service that allows more advanced programming for smart devices. The best smart home hubs and security systems from Wink, Frontpoint, Nest and August are all IFTTT compatible. IFTTT lets you program conditional triggers; for instance, you can program your lights to turn on when your smart doorbell detects motion, or you can automate your doors to lock after a certain time. IFTTT commands help you group and automate security functions that would be difficult to operate through voice commands alone.
Compatible Security Systems
A smart hub is only as powerful as the devices you’ve programmed with it. If you’re planning on using a voice interface to control your home security system, make sure your device is compatible with your digital assistant. Alexa’s AI offers the broadest compatibility across smart home devices, but Google’s expanding repertoire is closing the compatibility gap.
Smart lightbulbs like the Philips Hue can safeguard your home security system against a break-in. You can control these lightbulbs from your smartphone when you’re not home, giving your home the appearance of being occupied in order to dissuade a potential thief. You can even program lighting routines based on your habits while at home, to mimic a full house when you’re on vacation.
Alarms and Smoke Detectors
Not all security threats involve a break-in. Environmental dangers like fire, carbon monoxide leaks and flooding present a serious threat to your family’s well-being. Thankfully, the latest AI-compatible smoke detectors have advanced sensors that can detect these common threats. What’s more, these smart detectors can contact emergency services automatically, giving you peace of mind against dangers that are harder to plan for.
Smart home speakers can be powerful tools for home security – with the right devices and programming. You can turn your smart home hub into an automated security system with just a few simple upgrades, ensuring you and your loved ones are protected around the clock.
Sage Singleton is a home and community safety expert for SafeWise. She has written for a variety of audiences ranging from government sites to lifestyle magazines. In her free time, she enjoys wedding planning, traveling and learning French.
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