Technological Innovations and ‘Smart Homes’
Over the past few years, the world has been a witness to limitless innovations and technological advancements. The impact of these innovations has crossed the threshold of our homes and continues to touch our lives intimately. It has completely transformed our day to day lives and the ways we think about home living.
Technology has made its presence felt in areas we could have never thought possible. Windows have always been an intrinsic part of any house. They are the source of light and air in our homes. And very closely intertwined with windows are window coverings like blinds and shades. They have been used to provide privacy and to control light and heat in our rooms. Technology has changed the way we have treated and viewed these window coverings.
The traditional cord blinds are being replaced by cordless or even motorized ones that can be operated easily with remote control. The kind of luxury which used to be exclusive to fancy 5-star hotels and resorts has become a reality in our homes. If you thought this was cool, then hold your breath! Your window coverings can turn more high-tech than you could have ever imagined. It was just a matter of time before these remote controlled blinds and shades soon got upgraded to become part of what is popularly referred to as ‘smart homes’ today.
Amazon Alexa and Google Home
For those of you who may not yet be familiar with Alexa or Google Home, let us elaborate. Amazon Alexa or Google Home are virtual assistants developed by Amazon and Google respectively. Among the plethora of activities performed by them, they can also be used as a home automation system to control smart devices. These virtual assistants are now being widely used for controlling and operating your window blinds and shades. And it is easier than ever!
How to Use Alexa and Google Home to Operate Your Window Blinds
To automate the shades, you pair them directly to a Z-wave smart hub and then control them with voice commands through Alexa or with your smartphone. So all you need is an Amazon Alexa or Google Home, automated blinds or shades, and a few minutes to set up the home automation. Please note that you’ll need a compatible Z-wave hub (we recommend Samsung’s SmartThings).
Controlling Window Coverings with Voice (Amazon Alexa)
Some sample voice commands and corresponding functions:
• “Alexa, turn on (Name of shade/group)”: Shades open
• “Alexa, turn off/close (Name of shade/group)”: Shades close
• “Alexa, set (name of shade/group) to (percentage)”: Shades open to a certain percentage
• “Alexa, can you turn on movie theatre mode?” : Blackout blinds and shades close in your TV room.
Let us consider some scenarios where these commands are used.
Mornings are always hectic. What with packing lunch boxes, making coffee, running around getting things into place before leaving for the day, it can be hard to think about adjusting our window shades to set the day right. But not anymore. All you need to say is, “Alexa, turn off/close (name of shade/group)” or “Alexa, can you lower the shades?”
You reach home after a long day’s work and are too tired to run around opening the window blinds or shades. You get yourself a glass of water and say “Alexa, turn on (name of shade/group).” And the shades rise automatically.
With Alexa, you have the liberty of setting an alarm when you want the window coverings to open in the morning. You give a voice command, “Alexa, can you schedule shades to open at 7 am?” And you wake up with warm morning light filling your room.
Imagine you are preparing to watch a movie at home. With popcorn in hand, everyone seated, the movie is about to begin but nobody remembered to shut the blinds. No worries at all. All you need to say is, “Alexa, can you turn on movie theatre mode?” The automated blackout blinds come down and the movie atmosphere sets in.
Controlling Window Coverings with your Voice (Google Home)
Like Alexa, controlling your shades with Google Home is easy and doesn’t require you to reach for an app, remote, or lift cord. You simply need to say, “Hey Google,” give your command, and the window coverings operate without the press of a button.
Say, “Hey Google, open the bedroom shades.”
And your Google Assistant responds, “Sure, opening smart shades.”
“Hey Google, it’s movie time!”
Google Assistant: “Ok got it, closing your TV room shades now.”
When you are looking for options to control your blinds remotely, you are flooded with choice. Amazon Alexa and Google Home compatible shades certainly stand out. Operating these smart motorized blinds is as easy as it seems, but smart blinds themselves are not always an easy fit. You have to weigh your options and find that perfect style and fit for your windows.