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From Yaya to Google, how to ‘smarten up’ your home

Jan 16, 2021

LIKE many 1980s kids, I grew up enjoying the benefits of having a “voice-activated assistant”—even though smart homes, at that time, were just the stuff of science fiction movies.

We might not have had so-called smart devices at the time, but we still could do all sorts of things without even having to stand up and leave our seats. All we had to do was lovingly call out “Yaya.”

Yaya was the “OG” of all these virtual assistants, and she was Siri, Google and Alexa combined. She might not have the resources of Wikipedia to help us do our homework or create a playlist we could agree on, but she was the family member whose attention we competed for—because she could do it all.

Maybe that’s why the allure of having a smart home is so compelling, because it’s like having a Yaya all over again.

You can unlock the door with your phone, walk into your house, and have the lights turn on automatically and have music already playing as you make your entrance. Even when you are not home, you can still program a robot vacuum to clean the place and monitor everything with security cameras.

The actual reality, however, isn’t quite as magical as those advertisements make us believe since there is no simple, singular solution that can flawlessly automate your entire house as reliably as Yaya.

But at least its getting a lot easier. Smart home technology is becoming more popular and advanced, even condo unit owners who want to automate and integrate smart devices into their condo units can easily do it. For example, Vista Residences, the condominium arm of the country’s largest homebuilder, Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., recently collaborated with Cherry Mobile’s IoT product line Cherry Home to make it easier for its residents to automate their condo units through the use of different smart devices. If you want to take a virtual tour of Vista Residences ready for occupancy and pre-selling units in Manila and Quezon City, simply head over to www.vistaresidences.com.ph.

The Cherry Home Smart Security Sensor is a smart device that enables you to get security notification and logs every time the sensor detects that your condo unit door or window is opened. This compact smart device is Wi-Fi controlled and can also be used for dresser, cabinets and more.

Delivery people might not be able to get past lobby security in condos, but for those who often shop online and have their food delivered, the Cherry Home Smart Video Doorbell is another good device to consider. Instead of the typical analog fish-eye peep-hole, the Smart Video Doorbell will give you a decent view of your entryway as it is equipped with a tiny 1080p HD camera that can capture real-time videos with night vision.

This smart video doorbell has motion sensor and can be operated with the use of battery, microUSB or electricity. Moreover, it has a two-way audio system that allows you to communicate with the person at your door without the need for you to go out and meet them. Enable motion sensor to detect outside movements—from a passerby to moving objects—to lower the risk of constant visits from strangers.

Another way to monitor your home or condo unit is through the use of smart cameras. Cherry Home GX3 Smart Swivel Camera is a plug-and-play device that can be installed with the use of the Cherry Home App. It allows remote viewing with a controllable camera view and full HD result video. Moreover, it also enables you to enjoy talking with its two-way audio feature using your smartphone camera.

For those who keep misplacing or forgetting their keys, the Cherry Home Smart Entrance Lock is the convenient solution. It lets you conveniently get inside your house using the classic machine key, a key card/RFID, fingerprint, passcode, or via the app. What’s best about the Cherry Home Smart Entrance Lock is that all four unlock features, except for in-app, can still work perfectly even without WiFi.

Those who love my Yaya idea of having a companion in their condo unit, there’s the Cherry Home IR Transceiver. It is a WiFi-based IR blaster that can remotely control any IR-based home appliance like a TV, air conditioner, and other appliances. It’s easy to install and you can control it anywhere with a single tap with just the use of WiFi or data. You can also use this smart device to command your devices by using Amazon Echo, Google Home, among others.

Perhaps the most popular and simplest piece of smart home tech is the smart bulb. It does not only automate your light but also smartly changes the type of lighting you want depending on your mood. If you need an affordable yet cool mood-lighting for your condo in Manila, Cherry Home offers Smart Multi-Color Bulb that consists of RGB and different colors as well as a timer that allows you to set the brightness color, and even schedule for when you want these settings to be applied on this 9-watt LED bulb.

Another smart device you can start with is the Cherry Home Smart Extension Cord. Just place it in your preferred area in the condo, set it up and control it with just one tap with the use of  WiFi or data. It has the ability to turn on and off separate sockets depending on the schedule you have set. It also has a timer and is compatible with Google Home and Alexa.

At the end of the day, smart devices should make your life easier, not difficult. So  rather than obsessing about creating an integrated system, its better to identify those daily pain points and focus on solving those with the right device.


AFTER a not-so-spectacular experience, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about reviewing the Huawei FreeLace Pro, and was actually eyeing the FreedBuds Pro instead. But after spending the last few weeks with this sporty wireless earbuds, I think its an even better option than the FreeBuds Pro.

The FreeLace Pro has a lot of tricks up its sleek sleeve—or should I say “neckband.”  Not only is it wireless, but it also offers active noise cancellation, a promise of 24-hour battery life, Bluetooth 5.0 and is rated IP55 for splash, water and dust resistance.

First the design. As much as I like those TWS “peashooter” designs, I’ve never been confident wearing them outside as I’m afraid they might fall in the most unfortunate spots. So, I prefer using wired or those with neckbands when I’m out for a walk or at the mall. The FreeLace Pro features a necklace/band design that wraps around your neck. It might not look as cool as the FreeBuds, but its more practical to use for running or other sports activities. It’s very light and comfortable, you’ll forget its even there. This design also means it’s less likely to fall out and land on the ground somewhere and the eartips fit more secure in your ear. The magnetic back of the earbuds holds the two earbuds in place, so it won’t dangle around and also disconnects from your device’s Bluetooth when they’re magnetically connected and automatically reconnects once you take them apart saving you some battery life.

For the controls, the volume up/down, play/pause are located on the right metal portion, together with the power button. They’re clicky and tactile and have different shapes so you can familiarize with the controls. You can use the power button to reconnect with the previously connected device as well. Pull off the bottom portion of the metal part to reveal a USB-Type C charging connector. Here’s the thing, the easiest way to charge the FreeLace Pro is via your smartphone’s USB-C port but if you don’t have one or don’t want to, Huawei has included a T cable adapter you can plug into a normal charger. A five-minute charge from your smartphone will get you five hours of playback, which is not bad.

Now for the sound quality. The FreeLace Pro sounds fantastic.

Just because its priced lower than the Freebuds Pro doesn’t mean Huawei skimped on the audio quality—unlike the previous version. Thanks to a 14 mm dynamic driver that works with an independent low-frequency sound tube, it is able to achieve resonance effect, delivering punchier, deeper bass.

The in-call noise cancellation also works well because of the multiple mics on the FreeLace Pro, and people on the other end will hear your voice loud and clear, without any background noise whether you’re out in traffic or indoors with aircon noise.

Like I said the FreeLace Pro sounds great. Whatever type or genre of music you are listening to, podcasts or watching movies, everything sounds loud, crisp and clear.

TECH THOUGHTS: “As more and more artificial intelligence is entering into the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter into leadership.”

—Amit Ray

READ THIS HERE: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2021/01/16/from-yaya-to-google-how-to-smarten-up-your-home/


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