Topic outline

  • What is smart home technology?

    In this course, you'll learn about smart home and voice assistant technology. We'll explain what a smart home is and you'll discover how smart home technology can benefit you.


    Welcome to 'What is a smart home?'. A smart home is like having an advanced remote control that can make life more convenient and comfortable. A professionally designed smart home can be very complex but you can create a simple smart home yourself using Wi-Fi, your mobile devices and a smart speaker with voice assistant technology. A smart speaker listens for your voice and uses the internet to understand what you're saying. It then responds to your questions and instructions in real time. You can talk to it in plain English and it will talk back. It can also listen and talk in other languages. A smart speaker can give you information, including spoken reminders, weather reports and recipes. It can also make calendar appointments and search the web for you.

    Smart speakers can play internet radio, and also operate other smart devices. You can ask it to find shows on a smart TV and change the channel or volume. And you can tell it to turn lights and other appliances on and off instantly or to a schedule. You probably already have most of what you need to set up a simple smart home. That includes your home internet and Wi-Fi network, a home internet plan with plenty of data for streaming video and music, a smart speaker, a mobile device such as a phone or tablet, other smart devices if you want them, and a special smart home app on your mobile device.

    The smart home app connects your smart devices to your home Wi-Fi so you can set them up and control them. The most common smart home apps are from Google, Amazon and Apple. To keep your smart home secure you'll need to create a free account with your provider to sign in to your app. If you have a computer or mobile device, you probably have an account with Google or Apple already. To get all the benefits of voice control, your smart home app needs to match with the voice assistant on your mobile device.

    Apple HomeKit works with the Apple Siri voice assistant and Google Home works with Google Assistant voice assistant. You can use the app that comes with your device or if it doesn't come with your device you can sometimes download it. For instance, the Google Home and the Google Assistant apps will work on both Android and Apple mobile devices.

    The Amazon Alexa app will work on both of them too. The Apple HomeKit smart app and Siri voice assistant however, work only on an iPhone or iPad. It's important to remember that the different voice assistants don't work with each other, so the one you choose will determine which smart devices will work with your smart home. If you choose Google Assistant, all your smart home devices should be labelled 'Works with Google Assistant'. If you choose Alexa, look for a 'Works with Amazon Alexa' label. If you choose Siri, look for 'Works with Apple HomeKit'. Smart home technology can save you time, remember things for you and help everyday tasks run smoothly. Best of all, it's never been easier to turn your home into a smart home.