Home Sweet (Tech-Filled) Home!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on the new house.  I moved into my new place in March 2016 and since then, I’ve been working to fill it with tech.  Here’s a quick update and how everything is working so far.

Philips Hue

Program the buttons to control any and all of your Hue lights.
Program the buttons to control any and all of your Hue lights.

I’ve been using Philips Hue for a while now.  I was lent a starter pack from Verizon and it wasn’t long after I returned it that I went out and bought the starter pack for myself.  We now have two starter packs since consolidating homes and that means 6 Hue light bulbs scattered throughout the house.

They have their daily uses in the hallway and the living room light, where we set up Apple’s Siri to enable ‘movie mode’ with HomeKit.  I also set up my phone, the Galaxy S7 Edge to use an app called Hue Pro (available on both Android and iPhone) to create various modes that I can access with a single touch of a widget on the screen.  They are super convenient.  If that isn’t enough, we also have a Hue Tap Switch set up in case we have guests.  It’ll let them turn on the lights just like a normal light switch.

The most fun we’ve had has been for holidays where we light up the bulbs special colors.  We had a multi-colored bulb going outside for Halloween and for Christmas, we plan on lighting one up over the fireplace either red or green.  I’ve also hosted game nights and have used the Hue to signify correct or incorrect answers by changing the lights to green or red.

I am pretty sure we’re going to buy more bulbs in the future.


Swipe up on the red circle to open the garage from anywhere.
Swipe up on the red circle to open the garage from anywhere.

We wanted the ability to open the garage with my smartphone and for that, we turned to GoGogate.  GoGogate is a pretty nice solution even if it isn’t the prettiest for our purposes.  GoGogate needs an outlet next to it in order to run and unfortunately, the only outlet in the garage is at the back wall.  The console needs to be next to the garage door opener, which is on the side wall.  For that reason, there’s an extension cord running along the wall from the back to the side until a better solution comes around.

The solution was easy to install, even for someone who doesn’t have much experience.  You do have to take the cover off of your garage door opener and attach a couple of wires, but for me, it was pretty easy.  There are instructions online, too.  They’ll help out.  Once I figured out how to do that, I was in great shape.

GoGogate is fantastic.  We’ve used it quite a bit for going out for a run.  We can leave the front door locked and simply close the garage door with our phone.  The app works for both Android and iPhone, so compatibility isn’t an issue.  We’ve also used it for visitors from out of town.  We had guests that arrived while we were both working and with the push of a button on the app, we were able to let them into the house through the garage.  It was super-convenient.

Other Tech

Top: Hue Pro widget Bottom: New WeMo widget
Top: Hue Pro widget
Bottom: New WeMo widget

That’s the big stuff, but there are other things we use on a regular basis in the house that comes in handy.  Our Nest thermostat works really well and saves money by going into ‘Eco’ mode.  We have a UE Boom Bluetooth speaker that we use in the bathroom while getting ready in the mornings.  An Apple TV (yup, I like an Apple product) is a great solution for controlling Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming sites.  The TiVo is still a centerpiece of the entertainment system along with a Chromecast.  We also have some WeMo switches, including one on each side of the bed and one in the guest bedroom.  The guest bedroom is set to ‘away mode’ and randomly comes on to make it look like we’re home even when we aren’t.  It’s a great setting within the WeMo app.  I think the next purchase might be a Google Home, but we’ll see.

Bottom Line

Overall, we’re connected and even though there are occasional hiccups, it really is a great setup.  Think about it.  You have your phone almost all the time anyway.  By simply addressing Siri or touching a widget on the phone, you can turn on your lights, open your garage, search for and play TV shows or movies, and so much more.  Technology is here.  Embrace it!

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