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by Martin Jungfer
Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Samsung Bixby, Microsoft Cortana or even IFTTT? You've probably already heard the names of these smart home systems or their voice assistants. To make it easier for you to set up and expand your smart home, we've compiled the most important information on the subject here.
What do I need to know?
First things first. One of the first and most important things you should think about when it comes to smart homes is which ecosystem you want to use. Here, in addition to the big US tech giants like Google, Apple and Amazon, you also have solutions from independent providers like IFTTT at your disposal. You can find the currently most widespread ones in the navigation on the left. The ecosystem is so important because it is virtually the language between the individual smart home devices and/or a hub (central coordination unit). Unfortunately, the different systems speak only very limited or not at all with each other, which is why it is important to build everything in the same ecosystem. It's best to look at the devices that are already sitting around your home. Maybe you already have a Sonos speaker or Philips Hue lamp that can connect to one ecosystem or another.
How does the smart home work?
Once you've decided on an ecosystem, the next question is what you want to control with it. With a smart home system, you can control lighting, speakers or multi-room systems, appliances in the home like robot vacuums or the washing machine, outdoor devices like a thermostat or the robotic mower, and last but not least, security features like network cameras and alarms. Many more devices with smart features will follow, enabling you to live smart.
The control is done via the app or the voice assistant of the respective ecosystem. For example, you give the command to turn on the light in the living room via your Google Home. You can either do the voice command via a corresponding smart speaker or via the app on your phone. In some cases, a bridge or hub is required for this. This serves as a translator between the ecosystem (e.g. Google Home) and the end product (e.g. Philips Hue lamp).
Not all smart home ecosystems are officially released in Switzerland yet. Certain functions are only limited or not available or have to be applied via a workaround. In other countries, for example, online purchases can be made conveniently via the voice assistant.
Where do I start?
The best way to start your smart home is with an appropriate smart speaker. This is used to control your devices via voice commands. Depending on which devices you want to control and which smart home ecosystem they are compatible with, you will need a different smart speaker. The most common are the Google Home/Home Mini, Amazon Echo Dots and the Homepod from Apple. If you want to get information and feedback from your smart speaker not only in voice form but also visually, a smart speaker with a display is recommended. You can display the weather, a YouTube video or a cooking recipe on it. If you always have your cell phone at hand at home anyway, you can also install the corresponding voice assistant directly on your smartphone.