Isn’t it funny how accustomed we get to things and don’t even realize it? I gave up coffee for Lent and let me say that it isn’t the caffeine that I miss as much as the absence of the habit itself. A couple months back, I shared the anxiety of being disconnected. I know I’m online a lot, but until the WiFi wigs out or I’m someplace without access to internet, it isn’t so apparent.
Yes, I’m fully lying to myself that I’m not addicted. It’s called denial.
Who cares if I want to immerse myself in technology? It’s pretty awesome if you really think about it. Each year, we find more ways to integrate our lives with technology and it really does make life better. I go to the grocery store and don’t have to fiddle through my purse looking for the loyalty card because it’s right there on my iPhone along with all the other rewards programs and loyalty cards. When I eat at McDonald’s, I load up the app to grab a coupon. If I go to the movies I can get discounts on popcorn because there’s an app on my phone for it. I go for a walk… app for that. Wondering where my kids are… app for that. I could go on and on with the list. At home using WiFi or out and about with unlimited data on U.S. Cellular, I’m set.
I used to think apps were where it’s at, but that’s no longer the case. Yes, they are helpful and beneficial, but there’s more to connectivity than just that what you have at the swipe of a finger. What I’ve found incredibly amazing are the growing number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices available and how useful they are. Not only are they integrated, but many newer devices are actually voice activated. Voice control technology can now be found in everything from appliances to vehicles. According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, 36% of smartphone owners use a virtual assistant daily and 30% use smart home technology. I think more people will continue to gravitate toward these options as they diversify in the market.
We have a connected thermostat, Philips Hue lights, garage door, Dyson robot vacuum and Holmes humidifier. I expect to add some additional connected items to that list as the opportunities arise. Top of my list is a connected deadbolt because, well, they’re just cool and being able to monitor the doors would be nice. (Can you hear my mumbles and grumbles of having a teenager?) My washer/dryer are just fine, but new ones have features that notify you when your load is done. I also would be happy to add a Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor to my home because during the rainy season, we always fear our basement will flood. Samsung SmartThings are voice controlled through Amazon Echo to keep track of things while you are at home or away. According to Juniper Research, IoT devices and sensors are expected to increase to 46 billion by 2021, a 200% jump. Personally, I think that’s a conservative number because the opportunities are endless.
As an example, this past Christmas, each of our kids received an Amazon Echo Dot to use in their bedrooms. Not as a toy or replacement for an alarm clock (although it could be) but as a tool. They use it daily in multiple ways. Aside from the radio, sleep timer and alarm/reminder features, they also use it to learn about the weather, listen to jokes or riddles, hear daily inspirational affirmations and even their horoscopes. They regularly discover new ways to use it to enhance their lives. Scott asked what I wanted for my birthday and I thought about an Echo Dot or an Apple Watch but I’m kind of waiting to see what comes next. Technology improves daily and it’s always better – and cheaper – tomorrow.
U.S. Cellular is aware of the growing trend toward voice-activated devices and is working to make the new technology less overwhelming for their customers, even those not interested in upgrading just yet. Their community outreach includes free Device Workshops to assist people with learning more about smart devices and the many features, including voice control. These workshops are open to the public and you don’t even have to be a U.S. Cellular customer to take advantage. Contact your local U.S. Cellular store for details on their workshops.
What about you? What voice-activated or other connected devices have you added to your home?