For the record: I am not a germaphobe. However, with the current coronavirus epidemic, I have been paying close attention to the news and, probably like many of you, am also being a little more intentional about washing my hands more often.
Ironically, I was sick with the flu virus last month and it hit me pretty hard. If you listen to the IoT Podcast, you wouldn’t have heard me on the show that particular week. And I didn’t write the weekly post or two here either. I was in a self-quarantined state for around eight days and for five of them I was taking an antiviral medication.
Between that recent illness and the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, I’ve come to really appreciate the devices I have installed in my smart home.
I’m not a scientist, but anything that helps me reduce contact with strangers or with items around the house touched by several people is a win in my book. Even though most airborne viruses don’t last long on their own, I don’t need to be touching things that might have droplets of infection on them.
Mainly, the use of voice controls around the house is helping me with that. Every room, for example, has at least one smart bulb along with a smart speaker. By linking the bulb, or bulbs, to a room, I don’t have to touch any light switches or remember the name of the bulbs. I simply say “OK Google, lights on,” and the linked bulbs for the speaker in that room turn on.
The same goes for our television remotes, and let me tell you: I’ve seen some germy-looking and dirty old TV remotes through the years. We stopped using ours in the past week, and instead use voice controls to tune in to a particular show, movie or channel.
It helps that I have an Android TV box, several smart displays and a television set with built-in Chromecast functionality since we use the Google Assistant for all voice commands. But you can basically do the same with Amazon Alexa if that’s your platform of choice and you have the supported devices in your home.
And earlier this week, I used my smart home to do something I’ve never done before. I was expecting a package delivery and while drivers often leave those packages on the doorstep, I didn’t want this package to get wet on what was a rainy day.
I was upstairs in the home office when I heard the FedEx truck. So I didn’t even wait for the driver to ring the doorbell. Instead, I used my Nest app and the Nest Hello doorbell to see when the driver was walking up to the door. Once he was in what I thought was the appropriate earshot, I spoke to him through the doorbell speaker and asked if he could put the package inside, provided that I unlocked the door.
He said sure, so I used the Nest app to unlock our Next x Yale deadbolt. He opened the door, placed the package inside and shut the door behind him, which I then re-locked in my app. This lessened the risk of spreading any potential illness for both me and the driver, which is a win all around. I suppose I increased the risk of the driver not leaving the house or causing us some harm, but I think the odds of that happening are minuscule.
These experiences now have me thinking of general health benefits from using voice in the smart home. After all, viruses come and go, but there’s no need to take chances.
In fact, when we redo our kitchen, which is currently in the planning stages, I think I’ll pay extra to have that fancy voice-controlled Delta faucet Stacey had in her old house. It’s not that I’m against touching things in and around my home, but again, why take risks of passing along any sickness through contact if you have a voice-enabled smart home?
Now, if I could just get a voice-controlled pump for my hand sanitizer, I’d be set!