There’s a common misconception that if you don’t own a home, you can’t own a smart home. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to transform your apartment, duplex, room in your parent’s house, or anywhere else you might live into a smart place, one that’ll impress your friends and ease your life.
I tell you this, because I’m about to transform my apartment, and I want you to know that you can do the exact same thing.
Smart Equipment Advice
The best way to go about transforming your place into a smart place is to understand what you’re buying. By buying products that you’re comfortable with, you can better set up your place to be smarter than it was before.
For me, that first step was getting a Raspberry Pi, which is an inexpensive computer and great for learning about programming languages. Additionally, it opened me up to the world of DIY projects, which changed the way I spend my weekends and got me excited about other smart home appliances.
While I’m still learning, and might have taken much longer than expected to build projects that interest me, I at least feel like I’m on the road toward success.
The best thing about the Pi, and why I think it should be the first item on your smart product list, is because it can do so many things. As we’ve covered here at MakeUseOf numerous times before, the Pi is essential for many cool and various DIY projects, and is perfect with the free and open source home automation OpenHAB system.
Up next: the Amazon Echo, a bluetooth speaker that costs nearly $200 USD. Though the price tag is more expensive than a Pi, it can easily be configured to work with other smart products. For many, it’s a must-have, as it can easily spice up your place and can be used for all sorts of home innovations.
The Amazon Echo could also help you get into the smart product craze, as it’s fairly easy to set up right out of the box.
WeMo Mr. Coffee
Another smart product to consider is an automated coffee maker, because we all know getting up in the morning is a chore.
Mr. Coffee by the reputable WeMo brand created a coffee maker that is Wi-FI enabled, connects with your iPhone or Android device, and brews a delicious pot of coffee in just under 7 minutes.
It’s not a must-have, as you can easily brew coffee without it, but it can really make your morning routine a lot easier. I can’t stress that enough.
Logitech’s Harmony Elite
At this point, you’re almost all-in on transforming where you live. And if you’d like to go further, you should definitely consider Logitech’s Harmony Elite. The universal remote controller is easy to set up, as you can do so through a mobile deive app, and can control a wide-range of smart devices, such as a TV, game consoles, lights, etc.
Much like the Amazon Echo, it’s also a must have and is easy to use.
Now that you have an idea of what to buy, you might want to know more about what your products can do. Here is a quick project list to help you get excited:
With the Raspberry Pi and OpenHAB home automation system (that also works with Arduino, an open-source electronic platform), the number of projects you can do is almost unlimited (with some easier than others).
First, you’ll want to check out the automation guide so that you can better understand what you’re working with and install OpenHAB on your Pi. Then, consider creating smart sensors that can help keep an eye on your home.
If that’s too difficult, consider checking out the Raspberry Pi beginner project list for more ideas.
Remember Your Keys
This project — which brings together Amazon’s web service, Alexa (Amazon’s virtual assistant), and Echo — can help you remember your keys or anything else you might forget during the day. Seems pretty cool, ’cause who doesn’t want a voice-activated system that you can interact with?
I love this: Remember Your Keys by Wing https://t.co/3aKOQLvqpi
— Shay Meinecke (@ShayMeinecke) May 13, 2016
This one is really simple. Alexa asks whether or not you’ve remembered your keys (or whatever else you might want to include). You answer in reply with a “yes” or “no.” If you say “yes,” Alexa moves on to the next item. If you say “no,” Alexa then tells you to solve the issue and then closes the session. When you’re finished, Alexa closes and wishes you well on your way with keys in hand. Not bad.
Using Philips Hue, this project aims to replace your physical light switch with a virtual one. While it might sound more like a novelty smart project, turning the lights on or off from your couch could be very convenient.
The project also connects with Unity, a platform that can create multiplatform 3D and 2D games and experiences.
Now that you have some options on what to buy and what projects to tackle, a couple of tips might help you further. Here is a quick list of tips to consider when tackling your smart projects:
Stick With the Reputable Brands
As Joel Lee writes, sticking with the reputable brands the first go-around is absolutely crucial, as it can really keep you on the right path and away from shoddy and buggy equipment. Not every brand is perfect, but the well-known brands – such as Philips, Amazon, Samsung, Google, etc – have proven to be reliable and must-buy products.
Buy What You Can Afford
It doesn’t have to be expensive to work. A Raspberry Pi (and the free OpenHAB home automation platform) is a solid and affordable choice, and options serious smart place people choose. If you must buy something expensive, make sure it’s reliable and something you’re willing to take the time and invest in.
Don’t give up
The last tip, and one that I’ve personally had to tell myself more than a few times: Is to never give up. Smart projects don’t haven’t to be technical or difficult in order to be cool and functional. They just have to be something you’re proud of. Most DIY smart guides have ratings that indicate if the projects are for beginners, intermediate learners, or for experts. If you must, start with easy projects.
— MakeUseOf (@MakeUseOf) November 7, 2014
Put It All Together
With the right tips on what to buy and what projects to tackle, turning your apartment, duplex, room, or wherever you live into a smart place can now be a much easier task. What will you tackle next?
Do you have a smart home, apartment, room, etc? What products do you own? What projects are you willing to try?
Image Credit: Remote home control by scyther5 via Shutterstock