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Anybody embracing this sort of thing and doing some interesting things with tech in the home? A number of years ago I had some of the original Hue bulbs and a Bluetooth thing to unlock my door for me, and that was about the limit of things back then. It looks like there are some really interesting things you can automate with sensors for pretty much anything you can think of now - it’s all pretty cool.

I’ve been looking at Aqara sensors, Hue lighting, and smart locks but I'm sure there is even more fun stuff that can be done. Anything you lot are doing that is really cool with home technology?

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At the moment I've only really got various lights setup and basic control of the TV. I'd like to do more though eventually. One thing I will do soon though is switch from the Amazon Echo to Google Home. The Echo just seems to be getting worse with groups not working and the constant "by the way" comments after you try to use it.

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Yeah, I think lights are the main thing to do with it. I currently have the following on my list of things to do:

  • Lights
  • Door locks
  • Heating
  • Door Bell
  • Security Cameras

Then combining all of that together through automation to have things happen as and when needed.

Now I just need a house to do it all in…

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We used to have a fair few smart bulbs and smart plugs, but the whole system seems to be getting less smart as time goes on. Bulbs going weird, items not appearing on the network, Google assistant just acting plain weird. We've basically removed all the smart bulbs because they kept flashing and needing resetting all the time.

The AI element of the smart assistant seems to be getting stupider rather than smarter, constantly getting things wrong when it used to be right.

One or two of our Google minis don't want to connect anymore, so they're useless.

Generally, it's becoming more of a faff to keep it running than it is being a useful addition to our lives.

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Posted (edited)

Hmm. I've got basically nothing. I've got a few IKEA bulbs but that's mainly for easy dimming - we don't use the app, just the IKEA remote.

I just don't really see the point in setting a whole lot of things up. We remember to turn off the lights and if we don't, well, it's going to be alright. I can see a benefit of checking that the front door was locked or that we remembered to close the garage when we left the house. But other than that, I think it often takes longer to find the app, find the lamp and turn it on than it does to actually just go to the switch.

I do wish that I could see the point. I feel like a grumpy old man towards those things.

Edited by MindFreak

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7 minutes ago, MindFreak said:

Hmm. I've got basically nothing. I've got a few IKEA bulbs but that's mainly for easy dimming - we don't use the app, just the IKEA remote.

I just don't really see the point in setting a whole lot of things up. We remember to turn off the lights and if we don't, well, it's going to be alright. I can see a benefit of checking that the front door was locked or that we remembered to close the garage when we left the house. But other than that, I think it often takes longer to find the app, find the lamp and turn it on than it does to actually just go to the switch.

I do wish that I could see the point. I feel like a grumpy old man towards those things.

Personally I found I didn't really get it until I tried it properly myself. Using voice commands has become such second nature to me now that I've tried to turn lights on in rooms we haven't setup yet using my voice. Grouping sets of lights together is great as well. I had accent lighting setup previously for things like watching movies but I didn't use it as much until I set everything up how I wanted it in a group and tied it to a voice command. Granted now Alexa fucked it all up so I don't have that group but that's what I hope to fix by switching to Google.

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1 hour ago, MindFreak said:

I just don't really see the point in setting a whole lot of things up. We remember to turn off the lights and if we don't, well, it's going to be alright. I can see a benefit of checking that the front door was locked or that we remembered to close the garage when we left the house. But other than that, I think it often takes longer to find the app, find the lamp and turn it on than it does to actually just go to the switch.

I guess with this way of looking at it you’re essentially just moving a switch from the wall to your phone and probably doesn’t add too much to things. I think the real benefit comes when you say “movie night” to your system and it sorts out the lights, blinds, TV settings, heating and starts making you a coffee. Or you leave the house and automatically all the lights are turned off and doors locked without you having to do anything.

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Posted (edited)

The best "smart" device I've ever bought is the Logitech Harmony Remote/Hub.  It literally transformed my entire AV setup.  Being able to press a single button and have my TV & AV Receiver switch over the the correct input/settings/etc automatically is an absolute miracle; I've literally been able to put away all of my seperate remotes for every single device and just use the one, single remote that does everything.  It succeeded where all other universal remote manufacturers have tried and failed for decades; hell, it even succeeds where the frickin' HDMI-CEC initiative failed!

You can even make it automatically change your light colours/dimming if you have a Phillips Hue bulb setup (which I do) whenever you press a particular Event button, as part of your device's setup sequence.  It's brilliant.

Tragically however, Logitech have now officially discontinued the sale of the Harmony remotes.  It's a serious problem for the AV Enthusiast scene, as there is literally no alternative available; and wrangling a full AV setup is an absolute nightmare without one!  Thankfully, Logitech will be continuing to provide software support support for the current Harmony Remote line for the forseable future; but I really hope that somebody else comes along and takes up the mantle and/or buys out the Harmony division from Logitech and keeps them going... (it wouldn't be the first time... as Logitech previously bought out Harmony when they were struggling before).

I know that the term "It Just Works" is often seen as a meaningless buzzword, often used with derision at modern "smart" devices that are anything but... But in the case of the Logitech Harmony series? It is, unequivicably, the only device out there where I can hand on heart state that it really does "Just Work".  It is literally magical.

Edited by Dcubed

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I have some Hue light bulbs, some of those light bars, a Google mini speaker thing and the home hub thing. I don't really use them to their full capacity though. 

At some point I set up routines, did things like switch lights on/off based on if I was at home, even set up a routine last Christmas to change the living room lights, play some Christmas music and switch on the tree lights (they were attached to a smart plug) but now I mostly just tell them to switch lights on and off and play music. 

Plus the home hub thing got much worse a while back. When playing music it will stick the length from one song (or podcast) for the rest of them and sometimes switch off if you skip songs too quickly. 

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One really annoying thing about having Google smart devices right now, is that one of the nicknames we call our son, is Eggle. Don't ask why.

But it means that half the time we say his name, Google thinks we're talking to it, and will start playing some random song, or complain that it didn't understand the question. We weren't talking to you Google! I can imagine people called Alexa must have the same issue.

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^ you can rename Alexa, though.

 

I have thermostat and a few hue lights, and 2x Google Homes that I got super cheap. I'm not really interested in anything with cameras, and home security hooked up to wifi just feels like it's got a glaring weak point.

To be honest, I really hate the smart assistants most of the time. Google constantly wants to give me tips and it's just embarassing.

"Ok google set a timer for 5 minutes"

"Sure, that's done. By the way, if you want me to help organise your day, just s--"

"Ok google. Shut. The. Fuck. Up"

...is a pretty common phrase you might hear in my house these days. It didn't use to say all this shit, or at least it did, years ago, and I googled how to shut it up and did it, but it's started doing it again.

They also just don't seem to be getting any smarter. I remember years ago when Siri first appeared, spending a long time asking it anything I could think of, discovering the limits of it's abilities. We just assumed that over the years they would add more and more phrases, more ability to understand context clues. But Siri, Google Home, Alexa... it's like they shipped the minimum viable product and then just moved onto something else. "I'm sorry, I can't help with that yet" is a pretty common response from all three.

 

I actually want to move to Apple Homepods because at least they have quality audio, and I'd only be using one assistant (I have an iPhone) - but for some reason Spotify apparently doesn't work smoothly on them still. A pretty good summary of that state of affairs.

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5 minutes ago, Shorty said:

^ you can rename Alexa, though.

 

I have thermostat and a few hue lights, and 2x Google Homes that I got super cheap. I'm not really interested in anything with cameras, and home security hooked up to wifi just feels like it's got a glaring weak point.

To be honest, I really hate the smart assistants most of the time. Google constantly wants to give me tips and it's just embarassing.

"Ok google set a timer for 5 minutes"

"Sure, that's done. By the way, if you want me to help organise your day, just s--"

"Ok google. Shut. The. Fuck. Up"

...is a pretty common phrase you might hear in my house these days. It didn't use to say all this shit, or at least it did, years ago, and I googled how to shut it up and did it, but it's started doing it again.

They also just don't seem to be getting any smarter. I remember years ago when Siri first appeared, spending a long time asking it anything I could think of, discovering the limits of it's abilities. We just assumed that over the years they would add more and more phrases, more ability to understand context clues. But Siri, Google Home, Alexa... it's like they shipped the minimum viable product and then just moved onto something else. "I'm sorry, I can't help with that yet" is a pretty common response from all three.

One time I told Google to fuck off, and it replied with a very hurt sounding apology that it was trying its best.

 

I agree that they seem to have forgotten about the products. It's what happens with all tech companies apparently - the quickest way to be seen and get promoted is to create/work on a new product, so employees are always working on the next best thing, rather than improve the old thing. Its why Google seem to come up with so many new apps and services, but then shelve them 12 months later.

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The problem is probably that I googled how to keep it quiet. That means it knew what I was trying to do and evolved.

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I feel like renaming Alexa is relatively new because I'm sure I saw news articles from people called that complaining. I do know I some something relatively recently of people called Alexa complaining people now ask them to do stuff thinking its a joke.

One of mine has before now picked up someone else talking during a meeting and started blabbering away which is a pain. And it also sometimes gives me information in Spanish for some reason.

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Alexa always had the option to be called either Alexa, Echo or Computer as it's wake up name, or if not always then very early on as it was in my first gen Echo.

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I must be thinking of the latter thing then (people called Alexa being treated like shit).

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19 hours ago, Ashley said:

I must be thinking of the latter thing then (people called Alexa being treated like shit).

This was on Radio 2 a while back. I think the issue was that, although you can change the wakeup word, Alexa is the default and the one that everyone knows. The name has now become heavily associated with a servant.

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3 hours ago, Goafer said:

This was on Radio 2 a while back. I think the issue was that, although you can change the wakeup word, Alexa is the default and the one that everyone knows. The name has now become heavily associated with a servant.

Same energy:


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