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Don't be scared of the smart home

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Apparently, we’re born with only two fears; the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds. The rest are all learned. Fear is nature’s self-defence mechanism which alters our behaviour to protect us from potential threats, commonly known as the fight or flight response

Between birth and adulthood we learn not only to perceive certain situations as threats (fire, moving cars, etc…), but we also learn the advantages of overcoming our fears. Overcoming these fears help us to live fruitful lives full of independence and excitement, like taking on the fear of falling to learn how to ride a bike. 

The idea of having a conversation with a computer may fill you with dread, and this is exactly what happened when my Google Home Mini first arrived. The reality is, there’s a number of jobs I’d rather not do, that Google is happy to take care of for me.

Get on the Trojan Horse

My Google Home Mini arrived as a free gift with a smart thermostat I’d purchased for my flat. I figured I needed a smart thermostat because perhaps I wasn’t quite sharp enough to get the old one to do what I wanted it to.

When the box arrived I thought to myself, “I know a Trojan horse when I see one!” My partner chipped in to validate my reaction: “Why do you even want to talk to a computer? All these gadgets are replacing humans!” 

“Too right,” I thought. I didn’t even take the plastic off the box, instead stuffing it deep into the abyss of a cupboard where it could cause no harm. Oh fear, oh fear.

The thermostat worked a treat, but I hadn’t fully utilised the true potential of my new smart home capability.

Friends and colleagues were ranting and raving about how their Google Home device had changed their lives. It was time to stop fearing the Trojan Horse, instead jumping on to enjoy the ride.

Dancing with robots

Setting up my Google Home Mini was a momentous occasion. Despite the heckling from my partner I plugged in the device, downloaded the Google Home app and connected our thermostat, speaker and TV to our new robot assistant. The game changed immediately.

“OK Google, turn the heating up” was my first command and quite happily Google accepted. 

Although impressive, a voice-controlled heating system wasn’t quite enough to convert my other half.

My next command was “OK Google, put some milk and eggs on the shopping list”. Once again, Google duly obliged – I checked the shopping list on my Google Home app and, lo and behold, I had milk and eggs on my list. Still though, not quite enough for my other half to see the value.

Then came my next task for our new robot assistant: “Hey Google, play some music.” Finally, with a little bit of help from Spotify, our new assistant brought a smile to both our faces. Shopping lists and thermostats can be a bit mundane, but playing our favourite songs with simple voice commands had us both not just talking with a robot but dancing with one too.

The smart home convert

So far I’ve experimented with a video doorbell, a keyless lock, audio system, smart TV and a thermostat. With the help of my Google Home Mini I’m starting to realise the potential of a smart, connected home.

Video doorbell: I can interact with people at my door even when I’m not home. Being able to see and communicate with anyone at the door from the office might sound obnoxious, but it means I can avoid those “Sorry we missed you” cards delivery drivers enjoy leaving behind.

Keyless lock: I can unlock the door from my phone when I’m not home so those deliveries can be dropped inside my stairwell. In combination, the lock and the doorbell are a tastier partnership than fish and chips.

Smart TV: Via my phone I can seamlessly switch between my subscribed services on a smart TV. Also, friends that come over can stream to my smart TV too. We no longer have to watch that funny YouTube video huddled around a five-inch screen.

Thermostat: My first winter with a smart thermostat was incredible. I simply picked the temperature I wanted and it did the rest. It learned our routine when we were at home and away from home and it fired up the heating accordingly. I even get a monthly report of how much energy I’ve saved on the heating bill.

Technology has succeeded in connecting us with each other and now it’s connecting us with our homes. For the brave, the future is already here to free us from the mundane. 

Guess what? It’s actually quite fun.