"Alexa, turn on kitchen. Alexa, drop in on Paul's Room. Alexa, show salmon recipe. Alexa tune to Heroes & Icons." That's me chatting up my best girl after a long day at work. Turning on the lights over the kitchen sink and stove, getting my kid's attention, and catching a couple episodes of House while I prepare dinner. "Alexa, add milk to my shopping list." "Alexa, reorder paper towels." "Alexa, play Havana." "Alexa, play WRKO." "Alexa, play my news." "Alexa, what's the weather?" "Alexa, how's traffic from Danville, NH to Lynn, MA?"
Recently, I added an Amazon Recast to my smart home. It doesn't really make the house smarter, but I can now watch TV while doing dishes and control my FireTV sticks with my voice (haven't yet...who talks to a television?) and wirelessly connect that TV in my living room (which is not near ethernet or coax) at 4K (streaming) or 720p (OTA). I think I like the Recast, but it is too new for me to review at this time.
Mostly, I use smart lights and smart plugs. I have a couple cameras and a pair of smart thermostats, but have used neither. I've been trying to think of something to watch with the cameras. Nothing so far. I move my thermostat about six times a year and only have two wires to each. I could not see replacing batteries to avoid getting off my butt six times a year -- five, since I'd have to get off my butt to change the batteries.
I like smart plugs best as they can automate just about anything. I put all my Christmas decorations on smart plugs -- "Alexa, turn on Christmas." I put scent diffusers on smart plugs -- "Alexa turn on smell." I put air conditioners on smart plugs -- "Alexa, turn on my AC." "Alexa, turn on coffee." "Alexa turn on rice." "Alexa, turn on toaster." There are really no limits with these plugs.
I have use for smart bulbs as well. In some places, it doesn't make sense to install a switch or use a plug. Sometimes, I just want a bulb to act independent of other bulbs (on the bookcase of my bed) or sometimes I want the bulb to have special features like color.
Switches are most permanent and require much thought. I use Insteon switches that work as normal switches when no smart hub is available. One of my spring projects is to disable the motion detectors on my outside lights. I have purchased three way switches for each which can be controlled by Alexa. I have purchased switches for overhead lights in my dining room, kitchen, family room, and hallway.
I haven't considered a lot of smart devices just because I think they introduce risks I am not willing to accept. It's one thing to let Jeff Bezos to listen in on my conversations and watch my behaviors. It's quite another thing to let him unlock doors and control appliances. I'm OK with a camera at the door, but not with remote unlocking of the door. On the other hand, I'd consider a smart lock in conjunction with a traditional lock so that I could leave door 'unlocked' for someone who needed to enter my unoccupied home. Then I'd have use for the cameras.
Some devices are simply a solution in search of a problem.
I haven't figured out why the washer needs to talk to the dryer. Mostly, smart washers facilitate remote control and monitoring (by you and the manufacturer). I would not run a washer unless I were home and set a timer on Alexa to alert me to the finish of a load, so no smarts there. Smart also doubles the cost of the washer and probably dramatically increases likelihood of failure. You can learn more about smart washers here: https://www.which.co...hines-explained.
Smart refrigerators do a lot of interesting things. Here is a link to an article about these features: https://www.lifewire...rator-4158327. Some are better done by other devices and some are too much work, but I would like to be able to look inside my refrigerator when I'm away. I'd like to be able to smell it too ;-) Too much money to justify a smart refrigerator. Maybe I can put one of those cameras in the frig? Smart refrigerators (and cabinets) will make more sense once bar codes are replaced with 2D codes and, eventually, RFID -- it's closer than you think: http://www.waspbarcode.com/buzz/future-barcodes. I like the idea of a digital whiteboard, but prefer it stick to the front of the refrigerator.
Anyone who has ever pre-heated an oven with a loaf of bread inside knows why smart stoves are a bad idea. (I start the coffee maker, rice steamer, toaster oven, and slow cooker in the middle of the glass top of my stove to minimize risk of fire -- Alexa, turn on stove outlet.")
All of this smart stuff is pretty cool. Except for the Shows and Recast, it's all pretty inexpensive. Here is a look at devices that work with Alexa...
The smart baby monitor is pretty cool ( I don't think the shades would pay for themselves in energy savings and I don't mind setting them manually, but I do like the idea of letting the sun in gradually on weekends -- especially in the summer (https://www.tomsguide.com/us/pictures-story/880-best-alexa-compatible-devices.html#s28).
Lots of security risks (first thing you do configuring a device is to send your home network's wifi password to China in most cases) even if you are careful. I recommend putting your IoT on a 'guest' network.