About a decade ago, very few people could fathom the idea of controlling home features like lighting, security systems, and thermostat remotely using smartphones. To most, this was only possible in futuristic science fiction stories and movies, or at best, a preserve of the affluent. But ten years is quite a long time in tech, and we have some proof to back up this claim.

In 2020, setting up a smart home or modernizing existing homes to accommodate smart features and appliances is not an unreachable goal for most people. To upgrade your home, all you need is to understand the basics, set aside some money for the work, and hire professionals to help with the automation process.

In this guide, we share three simple tips you can use to give your home a sci-fi upgrade. We also recommend that you check out a few tech-enhanced apartments by Blueground, a real estate company that wants to make people feel at home wherever they choose to live, to see the tech in action. From Google Home assistants to scheduling weekly cleaning through their Guest App, the future of furnished apartments is here.

Let’s dive straight in!

How do smart homes work?

If you’re wondering what smart homes are and what they look like, this section is for you.

For starters, the backbone of smart homes is a concept known as the ‘Internet of Things’ or what is simply abbreviated as IoT. What this means is that all internet-based devices in your home are interconnected, usually using Wi-Fi, and controlled from a central point. You can then access, monitor, and initiate action on any of these features remotely using a smartphone or similar device.

Most smart homes feature automated lighting, thermostats, audio systems, voice commands, surveillance cameras, and sensors among others.

What you need to make your home smart

A while back, the cost of making a home smart was quite inhibitive for most people, including the wealthy. But with the advances in machine learning and an increase in the variety of virtual assistants and products needed for this technology, smart homes are now easily accessible to everyone. To get started, you will need to factor in at least the following three factors.

Your preferred ecosystem

The term ‘ecosystem’ is a fancy word for the smart home hub on which everything else in your smart home will be based. Today, there are three popular AI assistants that you can choose from: Google Assistant, Siri by Apple, and Amazon’s Alexa. All these three work pretty much the same way although each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses as we’ll find out below.

Google Assistant

This is probably the most popular AI assistant available on the market today as Google has built it into millions of Android-powered smart homes. As if that is not enough, the search engine giant allows you to activate and even give commands to their system using your smartphone as long as it’s powered by their own Android OS. All you need is to simply say ‘OK, Google’ and follow the instructions that Google provides.


If you’re looking for an AI assistant that’s compatible and able to interact with a wide variety of products, then Alexa might be worth consideration. To use it in your home, you will need to acquire Echo speakers while you may also need to download the Alexa app for Android or iPhone.


This smart assistant is only usable on iPhones and iPads. It comes with a HomePod smart speaker while you can also use it on your Apple device using HomeKit. To activate Siri, you need to use the words ‘Hey, Siri’.


Having chosen your preferred ecosystem, it’s now time to invest in appropriate hardware depending on which parts of your home you’d love to automate. The first and probably the most important of them is the smart speaker. If you are using a Google Assistant, for example, you can choose to use an Android-powered smartphone or Google Home for your voice commands. And if you’re using Siri, you will need the HomePod.

Other hardware items to purchase include smart bulbs and smart switches for lighting, smart thermostat for automated climate control inside the house, home cameras for security, and smart sensors for motion detection and climate control.

Connect your devices

The process of configuring and connecting devices in your network so that they can work in harmony may not particularly be straightforward. If you do not have the experience and knowhow to do it, consider hiring an expert to help you.

Enjoy your upgraded smart home

So, there you have it – a simple breakdown of what you need to convert your home into a smart home. With smart systems and devices becoming more affordable with every passing day, there’s probably no reason why you shouldn’t consider taking your home to the next level with tech.