Smart home devices are fundamentally changing the way we live. With connected appliances, the dream of controlling every single aspect of our homes with a virtual butler is fast becoming reality. Simply put, science fiction is turning into science fact. That Jetsons lifestyle we've all been dreaming about is finally coming true!
At the center of the smart home revolution is the smart bulb. With prices finally coming down to affordable levels, connected bulbs are poised to become common fixtures in homes everywhere.
And it's not just for the energy savings and convenience they bring. They bring so much to the table that you should start considering them as your next bulb replacements.
Case in point, here are five big reasons why I love smart bulbs.
1. Control smart bulbs with your voice
This is probably my favorite reason why I love smart bulbs - voice control. Forget the clapper! Paired with an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple's HomeKit, you can be like Captain Kirk and simply tell your virtual assistant of choice to turn your lights on or off.
For added convenience, you can even group your smart lights by specific rooms or areas and turn them all on at once with a single voice command. For example, you can issue commands like "Alexa, turn off kitchen lights" or "Alexa, turn on living room lights" from anywhere within range of your Echo.
You can also dim your smart lights without lifting a finger by saying "Alexa, set bedroom lights to 50 percent" or "Alexa, set reading light to maximum." Yep, it sounds so futuristic but the future, as they say, is now.
You start your setup with a Philips Hue White Bulb Starter Pack and an Echo Dot. However, if you can spend a little bit more, you can skip the separate Philips Hue hub, and get the Echo Plus. The Echo Plus comes with one Philips Hue white bulb and a built-in hub that will work with other smart appliances.
2. Control smart bulbs with your phone from anywhere
Virtually all smart bulb brands have their own smartphone apps and this allows you to control them anywhere, even when you're away from home. This is extremely useful when you're out of town or on vacation. Just turn any of your smart bulbs on and off with your phone like you're physically there!
You can even set routines and schedules so they'll turn on and off automatically depending on the time of day. Some apps have "geofencing" so your lights will turn on or off when you leave or approach your house.
3. Smart bulbs can help you sleep and wake up
Did you know that smart bulbs can also help you get a better night's worth of sleep?
With most smart bulbs, you can specify the color temperature or the intensity of your lights. You can simulate anything, from a calming candlelight to a warm incandescent, to an overcast sky with passing clouds.
With sleeping routines and schedules, as sure as the suns sets and rises, you can even have your bedroom lights gradually dim to help you sleep and likewise gradually turn on in the morning to help you wake up. Rise and shine! There's nothing quite like using your smart bulbs as your alarm clock.
4. Have your own light show
Here's another great use for smart bulbs - interior design!
With multi-color bulbs from Philips Hue, Mipow, or LIFX, you can change the look of your rooms on the fly. You can transform your room with the color palette of a savannah, a desert or a frigid tundra if you wish. Match a room's color scheme or do light patterns to reflect a particular season, it's all up to you.
You can even sync your lights to music or to your TV and create dazzling interactive light shows. The possibilities with colored smart bulbs are endless.
5. Trigger them with IFTTT
Tech tinkerers will surely appreciate that smart bulbs are also compatible with IFTTT (If This Then That).
With IFTTT, you can activate or create recipes and use your smart bulbs as notification systems for just about anything on the web.
Received an email? Then have all your lights flicker once. Someone liked your Facebook post? Then set that bulb to flicker blue. Someone retweeted you? Then, by all means, have all your lights celebrate with a strobe pattern.
Check this out. With IFTTT, you can even match your smart bulbs to match the album cover of any Spotify song you're playing.
There are tons of smart home recipes available at IFTTT with limitless customization options. You can definitely tailor your smart home to your own preferences and make your smart lights, your smart lock and even your smartphone respond to your own personal cues and triggers.
10 Amazon Echo commands you have to try
One of the most popular virtual assistants is Amazon's Alexa. You can find Alexa in several Amazon products such as the Echo, Dot and Tap. If you already have an Echo, or better yet, multiple Amazon Echos around your house, here are 10 tricks and commands you have to try.