Smart Home Devices Have Come into Their Own in the
Believe it or not, the precursor to today’s smart home devices was a novelty item called The Clapper. Made available in the mid-1980s, The Clapper was a sound-activated switch that let home owners turn it on or off by merely clapping their hands, controlling the devices that were plugged into it. Meant to add convenience to our lives, it could be activated from the comfort of one’s bed, couch, or favorite chair. Imagine lying in bed reading a book and getting sleepy. Without having to get up, with a mere clap of the hands, the light turns off on its own. It even had a security feature called “away mode” that would turn a light on at any sound then turn it off and reset itself shortly after.
Today’s smart home devices are also controlled remotely, but they’ve come a long way since The Clapper. Instead of responding to a sound, they are automatically controlled with an Internet connection using a smartphone or other device connected to the Internet. Not only can lights be turned on and off this way, temperature settings can be changed, stereo volume can be increased or decreased, and security systems can be activated or de-activated.
One of the most prolific and embraced types of smart home devices is the voice-activated virtual assistant. We may know it more commonly as Alexa or Google Assistant, depending on which brand we are more familiar with. The cloud-based voice service is a librarian, weather person, DJ, and newscaster all in one. Wherever one of these items is in our home, we can ask it to perform a function
or answer a question. At our request, it will set a timer when we are cooking, play our favorite song, provide us with a definition, tell us the weather, give us the news and sports headlines, and do much more, saving us the time and possible frustration of having to do or look up any of these things ourselves.
The newest Google Nest Hub, which Google markets as “the center of your helpful home” can do it all. With a tap of a finger or a voice command, it has the ability to control numerous compatible smart devices in our homes. It takes care of many entertainment needs with a video display screen for watching Netflix and/or YouTube videos and an enhanced speaker for listening to music. Helping keep the whole family on track, reminders and notes can be created, messages can be broadcasted, alarms can be set, and restaurant reservations can be made. Soothing sounds at bedtime make the winding down process easier, and the Sunrise Alarm, with its gradually brightening display and gently increasing volume, eases us into our day. When utilized to its fullest extent, the device has the potential for being a valuable asset in the smooth running of our homes.
As smart home devices evolve and become more beneficial and user friendly, we will probably come to rely on them more and more. Some of their functions are purely for convenience or entertainment, which adds to our enjoyment of life. Others, however, like those that improve time management, communication, and home security may become necessities we can’t do without. This is certainly within the realm of possibility. After all, The Clapper, once a novelty, is still in use today and relied upon by many.