Smart Home Options To Fit Your Needs


June 16, 2017

By Chris Guenther-Dutcher



Recently we have installed Smart Home hubs and Voice Command for several clients. This has given us the opportunity to compare three of the major players in Smart Home technology: Amazon Alexa, Apple Home Kit, and Google Home. We worked with the clients to choose the best option for their particular needs. Each system has their unique abilities and all of them work well. 


Our client’s needs are the interesting part of this equation.


One couple is preparing for an extended vacation. Their neighbor recently made the comment that they can always tell when our clients are away. That was a scary notion. The solution was the Apple Home Kit, some smart light bulbs and problem solved. Our clients can turn lights on and off at their home for anywhere in the world using their iPhones.


Another couple has school-aged kids and Google Home seemed to be the right answer for them. They are Android users with existing gmail accounts. We also upgraded their home Wi-Fi to a Google Mesh Network, which provides whole home coverage without any dead spots. The Google Assistant even helps with homework and research….just Google it.


Amazon Alexa, in conjunction with Insteon was the right choice for several of our older clients. Voice command makes it easy for them to turn on/off lights, timers, televisions and the stereo. For these people, arthritis, bad backs and bad knees makes it hard to operate remotes or get out of a chair to walk to a light switch. With Alexa they can also use Voice Command to place calls to other Amazon users without pushing a button.  What this means is that our older clients are finding ways to continue to live independently.


The other beauty of these options is that you can start small and build your Smart Home capabilities.  Start with a few light bulbs and add as you go with any of these systems. It could change your life or make it possible to keep the life you have.

Music = Memories

I came across this article recently and it got me thinking about my own life and how music is such an integral part of it. Not only because this is my business but because music enhances my daily life, creating a playlist of memories. One of my earlier memories is hearing the song "Lollipop" by the Chordettes. I was just a little kid when I heard this song at my grandmother Helen's house in 1968. I have called my grandmother "Lolly" since that day. Other songs bring up memories of my kids, high school and summer days. Each morning, my wife Chris and I start the day with a cup of coffee on the patio listening to our favorite Pandora station, setting the stage for the day ahead. In the evening we crank the tunes from our High School Days, inspiring us and making our chores lighter as we work in the yard creating a new playlist to go with our new memories.

From the Sonos Blog...

Music Makes it Home, Revisited

APRIL 28, 2016

"When the Segal family agreed to participate in the Music Makes it Home study, music was in their home, but it wasn’t necessarily a part of it. “We listened to music — the occasional spontaneous moment — but it was certainly very individual and sporadic,” explains Noah Segal, husband and father of two.As participants in the study conducted in February, Amanda and Noah Segal, with their two sons Oliver and Beckham, were one of 30 families around the globe who spent a week without music out loud and a week with all the music they wanted. The results were pretty clear: people feel closer, more loving and generally happier when they share time with their loved ones listening to music. For the Segals, this meantmore quality time in the kitchen, an exploration (and acceptance) of dad’s musical taste, a newfound love for The Jackson 5, and a lot of spontaneous dance parties.

Now, two months after the experiment has ended, the music remains — and it’s as integral to the house as the door lock or refrigerator.

 Music is the new light bulb

“When you turn on the light, you turn on the Sonos in the kitchen,” Noah says, noting the new reflex.

With more music on, Oliver and Beckham have become increasingly open to mom and dad’s choice of music. Take Beckham, named after Beck, who just months ago had never wanted to listen to his namesake. Now, Beck is one of Beckham’s most-played artists.

“Surprisingly, the kids have put up with my taste,” laughs Noah. “They rarely walk out on me.”

Discover daily

In the two months since setting up their Sonos, the Segals have spent the time discovering new artists and unearthing old favorites. “It’s way easier to discover new music with streaming music,” Noah says. “If I was 14 at the height of my music life and had this, I would have found much more, and been cooler. My 12-year-old found The Jackson 5 and has played them like — 8 billion times since.”

Of course, just because the amount of music being played has gone up doesn’t mean that life has slowed down. Between work and school and after-school activities and every to-do in between, the Segals never expected the gift of more time. But, what they haven’t gotten in quantity, they’ve gotten in quality — thanks to the tunes.

Life, out loud

“The time spent hasn’t changed. Life is crazy,” Noah explains. “But if you are in the room and the music is on, it tends to extend your stay just a little. We don’t rush out as fast. And the effect is qualitative — our time spent is better spent, not actually increased.”

Another game-changer? Cooking has become more fun. “Music takes the edge off. Food may not be tastier, but cooking time is better. Food is more lovingly made.”

This all makes sense, according to Daniel J. Levitin, Ph.D., Neuroscientist and Author of This Is Your Brain on Music. “For the first time, we’re seeing evidence that the music causes people to feel closer to one another: Family members [in this study] who listen to the most music out loud were 17 percent more likely to say ‘I love you’ than those who didn’t listen at all.” he explains.

During the initial week-long study, he adds, “Families who listened to the most music spent three hours and 13 minutes more time together per week than those who listened the least. And they spent more time in the same room physically closer to one another — 12 percent closer in proximity to one another, to be exact.”

In the months since the initial study, there’s no denying that music has officially moved into the Segal home, and become as essential as a kitchen appliance. “Everyone we talk to we tell to get Sonos – you’ve got to buy the blender, buy the microwave, and one of these speakers in the kitchen,” Noah says.