It’s been a while since I did an interior post, mainly due to the fact that nowadays with an 8 month old taking up all of our time, we’re pretty happy if we manage to run a hoover around the place once a week let alone decorate or keep things looking stylish. But today I wanted to check in and show you a few technology related updates we’ve made to our home recently, through the Amazon Shop the Future store.
I have to admit I’m not much of a gadget girl. Yes I use my laptop daily, have been known to geek out every so often over a new lens for my camera and get marginally excited when my phone contract is up for renewal and I get a new iPhone delivered (Oh and if someone wanted to buy me a Kitchenaid Mixer, well that would be just tickety boo) but on the whole, technology just doesn’t do it for me in the same way clothes and shoes do.
So when Stu started mentioning his desire to make our house ‘smarter’ and begin tracks towards a completely connected home, I admit it all went over my head slightly and I did that thing where I pretend to be listening to him while really thinking about whether I can justify spending £120 on that cute pair of ankle boots I just spotted online.
Because while I might not be much of a tech-junkie, my Husband definitely is and if it were up to him (which let’s face it, it rarely is) I have no doubt our house would be made up of a lot less scatter cushions and throws and a lot more swish looking devices and fancy hubs. Of course a lot of the things he proclaims frequently that we absolutely NEED for our lives to be complete and awesome and entirely stress free, are in my view a lot of nonsense that actually, in the real world, are definitely NOT useful for anything other than making my Husband feel cool. That said, after the smart home conversation came up a few more times, I decided to stop daydreaming about shoes and actually look into the idea further, and you know what? I have to give Hubs credit on this one because I’m now totally on board.
Amazon are, of course, one brand paving the way for these -won’t believe it until I see it – futuristic gadgets and gizmos and have even created a specific ‘Shop the Future’ store which houses all of the items that right now might seem like they belong in a sci fi movie, but no doubt will soon be two a penny. Think robot hoovers, levitating plant pots and augmented reality glasses. Not to mention of course, everything you need to make your home smarter, from the Amazon Echo, to wifi enabled doorbells, colour changing lightbulbs and smart home hubs. And in deciding to make the first steps towards a more connected home, we decided the Echo and the Philips Hue lightbulbs were a good place to start. Mainly because I really wanted to be like the people in the advert and ask Alexa to do everything for me all day, and also because I wanted to test whether it understood my Scottish accent (which it does thankfully).
So what is a smart home? Well it’s the idea that all of your electrical devices will be connected to a central hub, ultimately making it easier to not only sync up various things but control them remotely too. It’s being able to turn downstairs lights off and upstairs ones on when you’re ready to go to bed, it’s being able to turn your heating on during your commute home so the house is already toasty as you arrive, it’s being able to see whose at your door while your out or telling the postie where to leave a package while you’re away and it’s being able to play music from room to room while you do the housework.
Now obviously it would take some time to fill your home with enough gadgets to make all of these things possible and there may be some of you that say, actually, I can’t be doing with so much technology that has the potential to go wrong and leave me with a red lit room for a week (I hear ya). But the thing is this isn’t just gadgets for gadgets case. I mean sure, being able to turn your lights on from your phone is pretty cool and makes me feel a little like I’ve hopped aboard the Star Trek ship, and no doing so isn’t going to make a huge difference to your day to day life overall. BUT there’s no doubt that a connected home is the future for most, and for us millennials who are part of the (some might say lazy) ‘there’s an app for that’ generation who do EVERYTHING from our mobile devices, well there’s no denying that it all helps shave a little time off our busy schedules.
Personally for me these days, if I can’t do it on my mobile phone then the reality is it usually doesn’t get done. With a excitable baby to entertain 24/7, rarely a moment of peace to myself and never two hands free, having an app control aspects of our home really has been a game changer. Not to mention the fact that I can now ask Alexa to write a to-do list for me and remind me of it daily rather than having a million pieces of paper stuck to the fridge.
We’ve been using our new futuristic home updates for a couple of weeks now so I thought I’d fill you in with how we’re getting on and whether shopping the future really does work.
The Amazon Echo
I was dubious how much a talking speaker could really help us out on the daily. I mean Siri leaves a lot to be desired right? I think I use that for comedy value more than anything. Would Alexa fall prey to the same fate? Would I feel like an idiot talking to a device all day? Would it be able to do all that much?
Well, understandably the more devices you have connected the more Alexa is able to do, so for now it’s not able to control our heating, answer our door or play music from other rooms (yet). But what it can do even at this early stage is already pretty cool.
– it plays music through our spotify app, and the sound quality is better than our previous speakers or iPod dock so we’ve been able to do away with those downstairs in favour of Alexa busting out the tunes for us throughout the living room and kitchen whenever we so desire.
– it can tell us the weather, both at home and anywhere we might be visiting that day.
– it can create to-do lists for you (a function I have been going to town with because we all know how much I love a list) – everything from shopping lists to blog post ideas, and you can access your lists via the app or ask Alexa to remind you of them.
– it can play nursery rhymes for your baby when they’re getting irritable or tired of waiting for their bottle to cool down.
– it can control our lights (turn them on and off and change the colours) via our Philips Hue hub (read more about that below) and make you feel like you can command the world.
– Oh and it can even tell you what to dress up as for Halloween. A tree sloth for me apparently…
We’re pretty impressed so far and can’t wait to add more connected devices as time goes on. We’re already looking into the new Sonos speaker which can be linked up to Alexa so that we can play music both upstairs and downstairs, and I must admit the idea of controlling the heating via the app really appeals to me. I’ve officially entered serious adulthood.
The Philips Hue Starter Kit
When it came to the lighting side of things, we opted for the Philips Hue starter kit – a central smart hub and three smart bulbs so we’ve been able to use one in our standing lamp in the living room, one in my office for a little reading nook and one in Evie’s room as a soft night light.
Now at first I did think this gadget would appease Stu more than me. I knew he would take great delight in being able to switch a light on and off via Alexa and turn the living room blue just for giggles. But me? Well I was kind of of the opinion that I might not ever truly have a need for a red lit office. But oh how wrong I was. I’ve gone full on geek with this product, much to Stu’s amusement. I switch the lights a different colour each night as I hear him coming in from work just so I can say ‘look how different the living looks when it’s yellow!’ and I very much enjoy switching things up in my office when I’m sitting at my laptop in the evenings or first thing in the morning while E is asleep. But really the true winner for us on the light front has been using of the bulbs as a night light for Evie’s room. Prior to this we searched high and low for a decent night light – one that was dark enough to allow her to sleep but light enough that I didn’t trip over myself going in to feed her in the night. One that didn’t switch itself off after 40 mins (what is the use in that?) and one that offered a soft non invasive and perhaps even relaxing tint to the room to keep her sleeping. Suffice to say we never found one, but using one of our Philips light bulbs in a shaded lamp has offered us all of that and more, and I can imagine she’ll love it when she’s older too.
So we’re pretty convinced on the idea of a fully connected home after our first foray into smart home products. What about you? Are you a fan of gadgets like this and can you see the benefit of making your home smarter? I’m really intrigued to get different takes on this so do let me know your thoughts.
* This post was sponsored by Amazon but as always, all words, imagery and thoughts are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsored content on this blog! *