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Maplin x Menswear Style Smart Home Survey

Being the first company to offer a free smart home survey service, I was excited to be working with Maplin on this project. My initial reservations of whether smart tech would be useful in my home were put aside and I was optimistic after my visit from Charles at Maplin who asked me about my home and my aims such as ‘making life easier through smart products’ and ‘saving energy and money’. It’s fair to say that nobody is going to argue with that, an easier cheaper life is fine with me. Charles was clearly keen on all the latest smart tech, speaking with great enthusiasm about all the neat tips and tricks each of the products can offer. Even though I was juggling my baby daughter who needed feeding and a nappy change at the same time, it was all starting to make sense. I was imagining sitting out in the garden on a sunny day working from my laptop and whilst I do this I wouldn’t miss a knock at the door from the daily courier with more samples to shoot, all due to a nifty doorbell that alerts my phone and a Wi-Fi extender.

If I’ve had to dash out the front door because my Uber has arrived to take me to a fashion event I can simply turn off the heating and lights from my phone which judging on how many times this happens, it would definitely save the monthly bills in the Landale household. But doubt about how easily all these tech items would be to install started to creep in. Would my house resemble a university dorm room with wires hanging from pretty much everywhere? After the survey, Charles recommended a whole bunch of exciting stuff, with some products requiring professional installation. So, I had to sit and wait patiently for a few days, which felt like Christmas eve when you’re 11 years old and the hours just seem to drag by. Within 24 hours I had my survey report emailed to me with my requirements. There was a list of recommended products with an explanation of each to recap what Charles had already informed me and there is no obligation to buy anything. At this point you could just say ‘no thanks’ and that would be that. But that wouldn’t make for a very good article, so I took the lot! Here’s what Smart Home tech my little 1-bedroom (soon to be 3-bedroom) house in London has inside and how it has change my life so far.

Google Home 

I must admit, this is the product I thought I wouldn’t use at all. I don’t use Siri on my iPhone and thought this would be the same. I’m happy to say it’s so much better and understands me 99% of the time. I’m mainly playing music through it or listening to Podcasts throughout the day, but I’ve also found plenty of other uses such as asking it to turn my heating up or down, lights on or off, what the weather is, what the news headlines are and playing trivia games when hosting friends. It’s even helped with my work by being able to request things like “synonym for dapper?” or “what’s ASOS trading at today?”. Another great thing about this product is simply in its design. It looks stylish sat on my bookshelf – it doesn’t even look like a piece of tech, it looks more like a sculpture.

Nest Thermostat 

After recently experiencing some hefty bills and using uSwitch to change provider as a result I was keen to find further ways to reduce my outgoings. Again, the design of this product is spot on - its clean minimal aesthetic fits into my interior design theme at ease. Once this product is installed, it starts learning your use habits. Each time I turn the heating up and down it learns a schedule to replicate it going forward. Not only that but I can ask my Google Home assistant to turn the heating up, down or off. I’ve been using the app to turn the heating off remotely from anywhere in the world too. It also uses the geo location on my smartphone (and my wife’s) to see when we’re away from the house, and as a result will turn the heating down to just above pipe freezing temperature to save energy. I can’t recommend this product enough, big thumbs up.

Ring Doorbell 

This doorbell can be installed anywhere around your property since there are no wires. It runs on a rechargeable battery which lasts about 6 months. You can set it to alert you when there’s motion as well as when someone presses it, but I have just the latter installed since people often walk past the front door. So, when someone rings the doorbell, not only can you have it chime inside the house at any plug, it will also alert your phone which is where you can also see video footage of who’s at the door. If it’s the courier I’ve been waiting on I leap from across from the back of the house (my home office location) to answer the door but if it’s a man with a clipboard I think twice, especially if I’m in the writing zone and don’t want to be interrupted. It has also come in handy when nobody has been in at the house, since you’re able to speak to them and ask them to leave the parcel behind the bins (a regular occurrence but very effective).

Philips Hue  

I’ve become lazy since installing this light system. I’ve not had to stand up to turn the lights on or off ever since thanks to my Google Home assistant. I can simply say “turn the lights on at 60%” However, there are also a few other practical benefits. We can now dim the light which saves a bit of energy. I’ve also set up location services via my phone which turns them off when I leave the house and on when I arrive so I’m not stumbling around in the dark. The smartphone app allows me to change to any colour imaginable and there’s great recommendations for Yoga, concentrating and reading too. The changing of colours is also great sensory for my baby daughter, I think her first words will be “Hey Google!”.

Google Wi-Fi 

I’ve got the Google Wi-Fi system set up in my home to give improved Wi-Fi coverage. This simply plugs into your existing router and extends your range, which for me includes the garden which makes for a nice home office change on a bright sunny day. In the app you’re able to give priority to certainly devices so that there’s no disruption in connectivity. So, through the day this is my laptop and in the evening, it’s my smart TV for a Stranger Things binge. You can even block internet to certainly devices which will come in handy when my daughter is a teenager. No internet after 8pm, no problem. Starting in January 2018 we start construction on our house to build a new floor with 2 extra bedrooms and so another Google Wi-Fi device will give us coverage upstairs too. 

The Free Smart Home Survey service has now launched nationwide and offers people a free home visit with a Maplin Smart Home surveyor to discuss your needs and the different types of products available. Appointments can be booked in Maplin stores nationwide – for more info visit maplin.co.uk/smart-home-survey

Craig Landale

Previously heading up digital marketing at a large British menswear group, Craig founded Menswear Style 10 years ago. He currently steers the ship and has a keen interest for sustainable brands, product innovation, fashion startups and British manufacturing.

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