Get Up to Speed
- Install a smart lock on your door. If you’re not handy with tools, bring in someone who is and experiment. I installed an August Smart Lock Pro, and I’m controlling it by voice from Siri on my iPhone. The cool thing about this device is that it only replaces the deadbolt and not the door knob, so you have two independent options for locking and unlocking your home.
- Contract with professionals who are already installing smart things in homes like the experts from the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA). You might include their proposal in your contract or suggest that your homeowner pay them directly. Either way, you will learn something and get involved in smart technology.
- Take a class online or in person to learn the basics about smart technology. If you already have a smartphone, you’re halfway there. If you have some mechanical aptitude and like figuring out how things work, then this a new opportunity for new expertise and income that’s worth considering.
Talking About Smart Technology
Technology gets new vocabulary and definitions often, so here are some of the frequently used words and definitions for discussing smart homes and smart kitchens with your clients.
- Smart. Currently smart means online in the kitchen industry. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with artificial intelligence.
- Local Network. Typically this is a single office or a home, where a smart device does not have to be online to operate. For example, a temperature or moisture sensor can let your clients know when conditions change in their home. The downside is they won’t know about those until they return home.
- Hub. A hub is a machine that collects and distributes data to and from and between smart devices in the home.
- Smart Speaker. This is a voice device that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to learn and communicate online via the cloud or built into a computer chip (local) like in a smartphone or even in an appliance.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI). The ability of a machine to do tasks that previously required human skill or human intelligence, including learning and problem solving. Examples: voice and image recognition.
- IOT (Internet of Things). Smart things talking to smart things with no human involved. Example, a moisture sensor on the kitchen floor telling your client’s smartphone that there’s a leak in the house.
- Machine Learning. Algorithms (computer code) that cause a machine, like a smartphone, to learn. Example, your smartphone voice assistant (Siri/Alexa) learns from input without being explicitly programmed by a human.
Voice Control in Smart Homes and Kitchens
Voice technology for home automation is evolving rapidly but not without some bumps in the road. Here are some things to consider.
1. Voice control of smart devices is top of mind for everyone, but home automation systems with manual switches can be voice enabled as an option that I would recommend to my clients.
2. Some smart devices are close to being voice controllable but are not quite ready yet. For example, an appliance manufacturer hasn’t been approved for use with Apple HomeKit but is working on it.
3. Some systems like Apple HomeKit are better at controlling many devices in multiple rooms and can automate actions among devices. For example, a system can automatically turn on a kitchen light when a smartlock is unlocked. Some systems like Amazon Alexa, for example, are better at ordering and buying food and scheduling deliveries to your client’s home. Voice systems have niches, and the concept of a unified ecosystem for all home automation may not be the best solution for every home.