How my new daughter totally justified blowing $1,000 on smart home tech

This is June Elise Hollister. She’s two months old, and she’s the love of my life.

She’s also the reason my home — my lights, thermostat, TV and video-streaming gadgets — now responds to my voice.

I don’t have to set June down and risk waking her up if I want to dim the lights, pause a movie or lower the volume. If the family’s in bed and we forgot to turn something off — or if it’s a little chilly — I can fix it all with some voice commands or a few taps on my phone.

Until about three months ago, the idea of a “smart home” was a novelty to me. An expensive one too — one that I couldn’t justify spending hard-earned dollars on. Even when I finally bought an inexpensive Amazon Echo Dot, it pretty much sat idle after the initial thrill of asking trivia questions wore off.

But when it got harder and harder for my pregnant wife to leave the couch (and when it finally sunk in that a baby was about to change my life) I wondered if a small investment in smart home tech might be worth my while.

Two different looks for the Amazon Echo Dot — the inexpensive, voice-activated hub that ties my simple smart home together.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I started small, with a set of plain white Philips Hue connected bulbs to see whether a little bit of voice-activated light might help. I added our Nest thermostat — a device we’d only previously used to help save some money on our utility bill. Soon I realized that the black hockey-puck like device under my TV set — a Logitech Harmony Hub — would let me control my home entertainment system with Alexa voice commands as well.



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