5 Simple Smart Home Device to Update Your Home Before Thanksgiving

Everyday I get asked “What are your FAVORITE Smart Home devices?”, so today I’m Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 1.08.12 PMgoing to give you my Top 5 Simple Smart Home Devices that you can put into your home before Thanksgiving.  I picked each of these products based on three criteria, 1-Budget Friendly, 2-Ease of use and 3-Impact on enhancing your life.  So while there are additional products out there that can be used, these are just some of my favorites based on those 3 benchmarks.

1. Video Doorbells.  These little things are one of my FAVORITE fa7129b85ecab3000329878758a0bbd3game changers for in the house.  With very little work, and a good wi-fi connection, this doorbell will allow you to see who comes to your door anytime via there app.  Ring is currently my “go-to” product for these because they have a great price point Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 12.18.10 PMand a variety of options based on your needs.  With an MSRP ranging from $99.99-249.00 this product has a low entry price point, but a BIG impact to enhancing your life.  The question that I get asked most often on these doorbells, is “What one is right for me?”.  There are 3 models that you will see most often. The Video Doorbell at $99.99, the Video Doorbell 2 at $199.00 and the Video Doorbell Pro at $249.00.  I personally prefer the second 2 options because the first one, although81uEBwB1EYL._SL1500_ it has a better price point at the start, will cost you more in the long run as you will have to replace batteries.  The V2 (Video Doorbell 2) model is also battery operated, but this model allows you to add a Solar Charger for only $49.00 that takes away the need to continually replace batteries.  The one I like the best however is the Pro.  While this one does cost just a little bit more, since it is hardwired using the wires you had on your old doorbell there is no need to have batteries and it therefore has a slimmer design.  As far as ease of use, install on any of these models, including downloading the app and full step-by-step walk through should take most people less than an hour to complete and Ring makes sure you have all of the tools you need to complete the job right in the box .  They give you 4 face colors to choose from, white, black, brown and silver.

2.  Smart Thermostats.  Not only do these things look WAY Nest-Logobetter than our previous thermostat predecessors, they make your life so much better!  Many of the models out there, like the Nest (my current “go-to” product for this 61z0Flx0L2L._SL1000_category) will actually ‘learn’ your behaviors and preferences.  That means that although you will have a little work the first week or so adjusting the temperature to your preferences after that, it will begin to automatically adapt your home to create the best environment for you all while saving you money on your utilities.  nest-app-partialInstallation on this device should take you less than an hour for install and set up as well.  Nest claims that individuals report savings of 10-12% on heating bills and up to 15% on cooling bills.  Products like this with an MSRP of $249.00 are a no brainer if you ask me as they will more than cover their own cost in future bill savings all while making your life just a little easier.  Nest comes in a variety of colors to suite everyone’s room aesthetics, stainless steel, white, black, copper, polished steel, brass and mirror black.

3.  Sonos Beam.  If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you already know how much I love my music….it just seems to make everyday tasks that photomuch more fun and enjoyable!  So I was super geeked when Sonos, a company that I use often on my projects introduced their new Sonos Beam.  With an MSRP of $399.99 and packed with 41nJKqMwLPL._SX425_AMAZING sound, in my opinion this should be the #1 sound bar sold this holiday season.  What I really like about this sounder is that it can not only connect to your television and enhance the sound from your TV, it easily allows you to stream any of your music content, all right from an app on your phone.  I also like that you can upgrade the Beam 318sOwHpc7L._SX425_in the future to create a full 5.1 surround system in your room by adding a Sonos Sub and either in-ceiling speakers and a Sonos Connect Amp for your rears or two Sonos Ones to give you a full surround sound experience. These are great for bedroom or den televisions and can be mounted on the IMG_4709wall with the television.  I’ve also seen them used in kitchen spaces by being mounted under a cabinet or placed above the refrigerator or on top to the cabinets if you are just looking for some great sound in that space.  The Sonos Beam is available in black or white and every time I set one up for a client, they are super impressed with the sound that they are able to get from their television and the LOVE the addition of being able to stream their music so effortlessly!

4.  Smart Door Locks.  There are a variety of Smart Door Locks kwikset-logoout there, but I currently work a lot with Kwikset.  These locks allow you to use their app to quickly see if the door is locked, allow kwikset-electronic-deadbolts-909-15-smt-cp-scr-64_400_compressedyou to create one time or repeated access code during set times for individuals like contractors, get real-time alerts for when the kids come home and so much more.  With an MSRP ranging from $95 up to about $400 depending on the stylekevolock you choose, these are a wonderful addition to any home.  I especially like adding these to clients’ side garage access doors and I’ve seen a real trend in these for vacation homes, especially rentals….just think, no more lost keys and you don’t have to worry about a weekend renter making a copy for future use.  Just create a code for them to use that only works during their stay.

5.  MyQ Enabled Garage Door Openers.  Many of you out there that have purchased a new garage door opener or have moved into a new house myqin the last year may already have this product but you either didn’t know you did or don’t know how to set it up to use it.  MyQ allows you to control your garage door opener from anywhere!  IMG_8727The first thing you want to do for this little device is to go to your garage and see if you your opener has the “MyQ” symbol on it.  If it has it, awesome!  If not, don’t worry, I’ll address a solution for that shortly.  If your opener does have the “MyQ” symbol only, you may need to purchase the MyQ hub to be able to utilize the full benefits of your opener.  If it has “MyQ WiFi” on it, you are all set!  All you need to do is download the app, go through he step by step set up and you myq-garagewill be able to see when your garage door was opened, for how long and experience many more benefits.  If your opener needs the hub or if you have an opener that was made after 1993, the MyQ Hub should still allow you access to all of the perks of this opener for only $79.99 MSRP.  This little piece will give you an amazing peace of mind any time you travel away from your home.

So that’s it….my current FAVORITE 5 Simple Smart Home Devices to Update Your House Before Thanksgiving!  My hope is that youIMG_8847 will see that these products aren’t scary or difficult to use and that they can really enhance your life and give you some peace of mind.  If you have questions about any of these great products or would like to purchase any of them, feel free to contact me at my website at TruMedia Home.

My goal in sharing this information with you and educating you on these and any other products is that while I know many of you will choose to use the DIY (Do It Yourself) path, my hope is to introduce you to a concept of DIWY (Do It With You).  I believe that anyone adding these devices should have a trusted resource for their information…I am happy to be that resource for you, I just ask that if you choose to purchase any of these products and you found my information helpful, please consider purchasing those products through my company, TruMedia.  If you need assistance installing them, we are happy to schedule a time to get you all set up with one or all of these smart home devices at your home before the holidays!  For more about these and other great projects that we are working on, check out my Facebook and Instagram pages as well.

Let me know what you think….if your favorite didn’t make the list, let me know.  Have a new product out there you’d like to learn more about?  Shoot me a message.  If you are a manufacturer of a product, reach out…I’d love to hear what your new smart home technology is!

 

Gorgeous Master Bedroom Retreat!

IMG_8815Today we are showing off this absolutely gorgeous master bedroom retreat and the technology we were able to incorporate in it.  This room has a distributed audio system comprised of RBH speakers, Sonos and all controlled by Total Control.

First thing you might be asking is “What is a distributed audio system?”  Since we are all about education, let’s start at the basics with that.  The definition of a distributed audio system or what is sometimes referred to as whole house audio, is a music system that allows for playback and often control of music throughout an entire home or building.  Many times people only think about music like this in commercial spaces like offices or restaurants, but more and more, systems like these are becoming common place in homes.

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 2.23.54 AMWith the onset of music streaming devices like Sonos which was founded in 2002 and gained mass recognition between 2011 and IMG_88312014, distributed audio has been much easier to integrate into households.  Sonos is a company that has
developed and designed many free standing speakers that allow you to stream your music services like iHeart Radio, Pandora, Spotify and many more (over 60 services are currently available as of this writing).  In this distributed audio system however, we used some different Sonos hardware.

We used a Sonos Connect in our system with RBH in-ceiling speakers.  In whole house systems like this, although we could use Sonos free-standing speakers, we were opting for a cleaner and more streamlined look.  When you are Unknown4working on a house from the ground up, we have the opportunity to hardwire for in-ceiling speakers.  This frees up counter space that you would need for free-standing speakers, but still allows for the ease of control of your music with the simple to use Sonos streaming app.

We paired this with RBH frameless in-ceiling speakers.  With these frameless speakers, it Unknownmeans that there are no plastic frames around Unknown3the speakers that might become discolored over time.  RBH allows us to order these speakers in either black, like we used here, or white and with either circle or square grills.  They can also be custom painted to match any color you like.

Many times when you hear about someone having a distributed audio system in the house you might begin to look for the volume control knobs in the room….but noScreen Shot 2018-10-23 at 3.02.29 AMt here…this home has a central control system.  Volume control knobs used to be popular in controlling both the on/off and volume in a house or building, but since the onset of the smart phone that enables you to have a controller with you at all times, we have seen these go by the wayside.  In addition to cleaning up what we like to call “wall acne”, we find that it is so much easier for our clients to use their smartphone, a table top remote, a wall mounted touch panel or a handheld remote to not only control their music, but all of the systems within their house.

The control system that we used in this house is Total Control by URC (Universal Remote Control).  Introduced in 2011 with their 2.0 IMG_8808upgrade in 2017, Total Control has been a global leader in automation and control.
A system like this is essentially what we like to refer to as the “brain” of the house.  Many devices these days, like Sonos come with their own individual app that you can use on your phone, so why would you need a control system?  Well, I’ll be addressing that in a future blog post, but for now, the basic answer is that by having one central control system like Total Control in the house it allows us to tie all of these apps and therefore the function of these connected devices together.  Tying these devices together allows us to create scenes or situations where these devices can work in partnership with one another.

If you are interested in learning more about distributed audio for your house or business, feel free to visit our website or find us on Facebook or Instagram.  As always, I welcome any questions you might have about these or any other technology products for your home.  Feel free to leave me a message or let me know of another product you’d like to learn a little more about, I’ll do my best to accommodate your request.

Shipt Door from the Garage to the Pantry!

IMG_8713Ok, I know I’m dedicated to bringing you all things tech…but this next post isn’t something specifically about technology, but it would fall under the category of innovative and so that’s why I’m including a post on it here.  Additionally, it brings to light a new technology that is available that is changing how households are doing shopping everywhere!

What pre-tell might I be speaking a out?  I’m talking about og-imgShipt…a shopping service that was started in 2014 in Alabama but has expanded to over 240 cities and is adding more everyday.  The entire premise of this service technology is to bring ease and convenience to your life and your household.  Simply sign up for the service (you get a 2 week free trial when you first sign up to try it out), use their shipt_screensuper easy app to enter your shopping list and local shoppers in your area will do all of the shopping leg work for you.

You have the option of choosing one of two plans currently, either an annual $99 plan that works out to as little as $8.25/month or you can choose monthly at $14/month.  You then enter your shopping list and can get same day delivery of your goods….sometimes in as little as 1 hour!  meijer-delivered-by-shipt

The beauty of this system is that you also receive FREE deliver on shopping orders of $35 or more.  Currently in the Greater Grand Rapids Area where I live, you can get items from Meijer or Target through Shipt, but there are many more targetshiptservices that are cropping up as we are constantly looking for ways to add more time and convenience into our days.  To learn more about Shipt, visit their website at www.shipt.com.

Now that brings me to the feature in our recent Parade of Homes house by Miles Builders that I was hoping to speak to you about.  IMG_8731It was the cool little feature in the garage that, besides the awesome cars was creating quite the buzz….it was the “Shipt-Door” as we affectionately called it.  It was a cute little 24″x24″ double IMG_8705door from the garage directly into the pantry.  We called it the “Shipt-Door” because although the builder’s thoughts originally were just to give the homeowner a convenient pass through from the garage to the pantry for their groceries….we thought, with the technology that we provided in the garage that we spoke about in our last post HERE, that this door would be PERFECT for Shipt deliveries!

With having remote access to open and close that garage with MyQ from LiftMaster, the camera system from Hikvision and this “Shipt-Door”, the homeowner could easily order IMG_8744their groceries from anywhere in the world on the Shipt app and when the delivery arrived, they could easily allow their Shipt shopper access to the garage, watch them come in, IMG_8741open the door to the pantry and deliver the groceries and be on their way.  The home owner could easily see the entire transaction transpire from the Hikvision app on their phone.  By just offering access to the pantry, they homeowner still has the ability to maintain their privacy of not letting anyone in the house by making sure that both their garage service door to the house and the pantry door were locked.  The Shipt Shopper would only have access to the garage and the “Shipt-Door” to make deliveries directly to the pantry.  When the homeowner arrived home, their shopping would be complete.

IMG_8738To learn more about this gorgeous custom home, feel free to contact Miles Builders or check out future blog posts here.  To learn more about adding technology like cameras and MyQ to your garage to make using services like Shipt easier and more convenient for you, feel free to contact me at TruMedia or check out my website or Facebook or Instagram.  If you have any ideas or suggestions about technology you’d like to see me review, feel free to send me a message.

Technology in the Garage?

IMG_8728Technology in the garage?  That’s not usually the first two things that you might think about putting together, but the truth is there are LOTS of ways you can incorporated technology in your garage!  I stopped out to the Fall Parade of Homes house that we collaborated on with Miles Builders to show you just a few technologies and cool features that you can incorporate in your garage.

The first thing that I’m excited about for technology in the garage is the “My Q”. In this garage we had the MyQ in a LiftMaster garage door opener, LiftMaster_MyQbut it is also in many Chamberlain garage door openers as well.  The wonderfully crazy thing about this technology is that its built right into most of their garage door models, myq-garageso you don’t even have to purchase the additional technology…you just have to connect it.  Once your garage door opener with MyQ is connected to your home’s wireless network, IMG_8723you just need to download the app to your smart phone or tablet and anywhere in the world you are able to see if your garage door is open or closed, how long it has been in that state and you can choose to open or close it remotely as well.  It also allows you to receive alerts for any changes that have been made to the status.  Not only can you control it from your smart phone or tablet, but you can also control it from your wearable device.  If your current garage door does not have MyQ built in, you can purchase a MyQ Smart Garage Hub to convert your existing garage into a smart garage.

In addition to smart garage door openers, it is now becoming common place to have cameras installed in your garage.  If you have a smart garage door that IMG_8730allows you to let individuals in to make deliveries, it stands to reason that you might want to make sure that all they did was drop off the delivery.  Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 4.18.24 PMIn this home we also made sure to install cameras not only on the exterior of the house to see who might be coming up the driveway and front entry, but we also located one inside of the garage to make sure that everything is secure.  These cameras can also be viewed from an app on your smart phone, tablet or computer.  It is also possible to draw virtual threshold lines that will send you an alert if their is motion in that space or if an object remains in that space for a predetermined set of time.

If you’d like to learn more about how technology inIMG_8847 your garage can really add to the security and convenience to your space, feel free to visit our website at www.trumediahome.com or visit us on Facebook at @TruMediaHome or on Instagram at @TruMediaHome.

 

 

Kraft Meadows Students Visit JDH Custom Home’s Fall Parade Home

IMG_8941Today I was invited to join Josh Hankamp, the owner of JDH Custom Homes to his Fall Parade of Homes house where he was hosting more than 20 students and their teachers.  These students were from the 8th Grade at Kraft Meadows Middle School in Caledonia.  They were given the opportunity to spend the day on a field trip learning about possible careers in the construction industry.

They spent the morning at Erhardt Construction where they were given the chance to get some real hands on experience with building a wall and learning more about what goes into construction. IMG_8939 (1)

They then came to JDH Custom Homes Parade House in the afternoon.  Josh had reached out to some of his contractors who might be willing and able to take some time to speak with the students.  Josh was joined by Deb from Carter Lumber Kitchen Design, Mark from Green Edge of Michigan and myself from TruMedia.  This eclectic mix of contractors were able to speak to the students about many different facets of residential construction.

IMG_8949Josh was of course able to speak to them from a builder’s perspective, but he was also able to share about his earlier life experience as starting out in the framing sector of the construction industry.  Deb was able to speak the the students about design, specifically as it pertains to cabinetry in the kitchen.  IMG_8952She spoke about design choices and how she is able to determine the best layout of the space to allow for functionality.  Mark spoke to the students about home efficiency and how they are able to perform energy audits on houses to then provide builders and homeowners with a rating for the home’s efficiency. IMG_8950

I was able to speak to the students about the importance of setting up a strong and reliable network infrastructure to assure that all of the devices that need an internet connection are able to have the strongest feed.  We spoke about when we should try to hard wire a device to the internet and what devices might be better on a wireless network.  IMG_8944 We also spoke about how we can make the wireless network in a home stronger and more reliable.  We discussed the various types of wire that they might see on a construction site and what they would be used for.  I also talked to them about how we set up speakers. What is the difference between stand alone products like Sonos freestanding speakers and having in-ceiling speakers; how they all work and connect to your music source.  Finally we spoke about the Internet of Things (IoT); how these devices work and how we can make them work together as a system within the home.

I was SUPER impressed with the students’ questions about the technology that I presented!  IMG_8954They asked questions like “How does the internet get to my house?”, “How come my Bluetooth speaker stops working if I move away?”, “How can I make sure that I don’t have LAG when I’m playing my video games with my friends?”, “How can you update older homes for some of these things?” and many more! It’s really wonderful that the schools recognize the importance of getting these students out where they have the opportunity to ask these questions and to get some hands on experience.  Field trips like this always make me optimistic about the next generation coming up and when I see students like these, I think our future is looking pretty bright!

downloadOpportunities for students like this were provided ABCIncLogoby the Home Builders’ Association and ABC Western Michigan.  If you are interested in setting up an opportunity with either of these organizations, please check out their websites at www.mygrhome.com or at www.abcwmc.org.  If you are interested in teaching your students more about opportunities from a Technology Designer, please feel free to send me a message.

Job Corps Students Visit Miles Builders’ Custom Home

IMG_3248 (2)Yesterday I had the opportunity to host 11 students and their teacher from the Gerald R Ford Job Corps center HBI program at the Miles Builders’ custom home.  I invited them out for this field trip for them to learn about all of the skilled trades that are needed in order to be able to build a home like this.

 

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The Gerald R Ford Job Corps works to teach eligible young people (ages 16-24) the skills they need to become employable and independent and place them in meaningful jobs or further education.  Students have a variety of course plans that they are able to choose from and these students have chosen the HBI or Home Builders’ Institute program.  The HBI program works to advance and provide education, career development, training and placement of men and women serving the building industry.  They do this through in class training, field trips and even work shadow programs.

I was introduced to this program approximately 1 year ago and in that time, TruMedia, IMG_1953my company has been able to host over a dozen students out on a three week job shadow to introduce them to the custom integration channel.  When students shadow with us they are able to work on both new construction and retro fit residential and commercial job sites.  We teach the students the basics about pre-wiring, trim finish out and even equipment installation and programming.

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During this most recent field trip we were able to show the students what a finished custom home looked like and were able to answer questions that the students had about things that we do like designing for a clients’ current and future technology needs.  We were able to speak to them about the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the importance of planning for and setting up a solid network infrastructure for these systems in the house to work with.

We were joined on this field trip by Rachel, a Landscape Designer from R&A Landscaping and Courtney, the Interior Designer from Miles Builders.  They were able to speak to the students about additional skilled trades that are needed to be able to accomplish a gorgeous looking house like this.  The reoccurring theme that was expressed by all of us was the importance of communication between the trades and the need for individuals to have a strong desire to work hard and to take pride in their work.

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Meeting these students and working with them during the job shadow program has made me incredibly optimistic about the future generation and their desire to learn and work hard in a skilled trade.  I really enjoy opening these students’ eyes to the possibilities that they have for the future.

job-corps-logoTo learn more about the Job Corps program feel Yujh2Y1m_400x400free to visit their website at www.geraldrford.jobcorps.gov .  To learn more about the HBI program, visit www.hbi.org.  To learn more about my experience working with these students or to schedule a time for me to visit or speak to your students, feel free to send me a message.

2018 Fall Parade of Homes with Miles Builders

It’s that time of year again…the Grand Rapids Home Builders Fall Parade of Homes has kicked off and I am excited to share with you a unique perspective of house #21.  I partnered with Miles Builders on this project as their Technology Designer, so not only will you see an absolutely GORGEOUS custom home, you will be privy to a behind the scenes look at all of the technology that we used in the space.

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This beautiful modern inspired home is located in Byron Center and has one of a kind views.  It boasts over 6,400 square feet of pure luxury!  IMG_8835 There are dynamic contrasting colors, a variety of textures and modern touches that make this home a show stopper…and don’t even get IMG_8849me started on the technology!

Don Miles at Miles Builders knew that in order for this custom built spec home to exude the elegance that his potential buyers were going to demand he needed to consult with a Technology Designer and thats when he contacted me and my team at TruMedia.

We worked together to create a clean, modern and welcoming space using technology to bring the family together and to make sure that the potential owners would be prepared for additional technology in the future.

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Each day this week I am going to showcase a different room in the home on the blog and will be offering you a more in depth view of these rooms in the form of video on my YouTube channel, Instagram TV, Facebook Page and IMG_8853Instagram Page at both @TruTechInsights and @TruMediaHome.  I hope you’re willing to come along on this journey with me as I introduce you to this magnificent home and if you have any questions for either me or Don Miles, the builder, feel free to shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to get you an answer.  If you have a piece of technology that you’d like to know more about or to have me review, send me a suggestion and I’ll see what I can do to accommodate.

Thanks for joining me on this journey…I can’t wait to show you more!