I have always been resistant to the idea of installing complicated “smart” gadgetry all around my home and being forced to operate a lot of apps in order to control each one. It just seemed to be more trouble than it was worth.
After speaking with a few home automation experts who have mastered the art of tech, I realized that I could be missing out all of the benefits that smart home devices have to offer.
“Having a simple-to-use, well-designed smart home is like having your smartphone. You would not want to give them up or live without them,” said Wil Vitela, owner of Home Technology Expert, a California-based business that specializes in smart home installation.
Vitela explained that having a smart home, or elements of a smart home, can help out with simple things. A smart lock can allow friends and family safe access to your home without having to leave a key under the mat, or a smart security system can allow you to monitor your home or close your garage door remotely.
“[Additionally], as you get older or have had surgeries over time affecting your mobility, being able to adjust the smart thermostat or turn on the lights using your voice from where you are is so helpful,” Vitela added.
Aside from peace of mind, Joel Portillo, a home automation expert at the Los Angeles-based Joel & Co. Construction, said that utilizing devices such as smart thermostats or bulbs can help reduce energy costs and track energy consumption as well.
“The Nest smart thermostat, for instance, has an easy-to-use interface that can track things like your peak times of energy consumption, offers recommendations on when you should be using energy and when you shouldn’t, as well as giving you thermostat control even when you’re not at home,” he said.
Even if all these benefits sound good, being able to convince a technophobe to implement them is a whole other thing.
Portillo also explained that contrary to my and many fellow skeptics’ estimation that installing and operating smart devices is overly complicated, most of them are actually not. In fact, many don’t require any kind of hardwiring and are compatible with multiple home umbrella systems, like Alexa or Google Home. This means that all connected devices can be easily controlled in one place, rather than over a number of different apps or platforms.
“Google Home is a favorite of ours for that reason,” Portillo said. “It’s very user-friendly and straightforward, even for people who aren’t tech-savvy. [You can] just navigate and control all your devices on the one app.”
Vitela agreed, saying that whenever he works on designing smart home systems for customers, he likes to look at the system in holistic way based on their lifestyles and how they currently interact with technology.
“Many of the older parents and grandparents are self-proclaimed technophobes, however all of them enjoy the technology when not only the right brands but also models are chosen, are set up properly, and most importantly are explained ... in a clear, common-sense way, ” Vitela said.
Hiring a professional to install smart devices is always an option. However, if you just want to gift a technophobe something that doesn’t require the help of the pros, then keep reading to see the following list of simple gadgets, smart devices and entertainment tools, including customer-favorite highly-rated options along with recommendations from our experts.