IN A WORLD dominated by doom and gloom at the moment, we thought we'd share a good news story about technology.
British smart home company Energenie has released a video about Alan Sumner from Accrington, Lancashire.
Alan, a retired communications specialist, runs a foster home for vulnerable children and teenagers. After Amazon brought Echo to the UK last year, he had an idea.
Going into a foster home can be daunting, but Alan has worked to make it a tech playground, converting all of the sockets and switches to Energenie MiHome and adding an Amazon Echo Dot in every room to give them all voice control.
New arrivals are bowled over by the ability to control things with their voice. We're told that one resident has already asked if she can take the system with her when she leaves.
Sumner chose Energenie because of its compatibility with Alexa, but also because it's one of the few companies that allows "retrofitting" - that is to say, changing the switches and sockets, not using special bulbs or smart plug adapters.
For the foster kids in his care, that, combined with the voice control aspect means that the system is easy to learn, even for kids, and it provides them with some sort of control in their lives at a time when they may be thinking they have none left.
Meanwhile, downstairs, Alan is able to see what is being used and where in case anyone's decided to have a night-time telly binge.
Alan's aim is to prove that smart homes are for everyone, not just the rich and famous, and not only that, the fact that he's done all the conversion himself, shows that you don't need to get a professional in to do it.
We've covered retrofitted devices before, but they generally involve adding adapters behind existing switches and are usually proprietary.
We've already said that we believe that cloud-based systems are the future of the connected home, and this video shows that it is, literally, child's play.
Energenie has just announced it will be bringing native compatibility to Google Assistant soon too, as well as IFTTT compatibility which is already available. It also offers Raspberry Pi boards for people who like a challenge. µ
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We'll leave you to make the obvious joke...