Amazon Wants Smart Homes to Be Affordable and Simple

In years past, building a smart home has been expensive and complex, to say the least. Now however, with the rapid increase of technologies that allow devices to communicate and interact with others well, in the form of the silly/well known by you, acronym, IoT (Internet of Things), this cost has been drastically reduced and now, as long as you are connected to an internet connection, have power to one of these devices, you can start to make your home smarter than your honor student.

Recently I wrote about how major brands Google and Amazon are fighting a war of technology and the winner gains your trust and your family’s trust, along with your personal data and money. I realize this sounds a bit invasive, but you are giving this away to these technology giants daily, and it’s really not that big of a deal; you it everywhere online now — you may just not be aware of it. I’ll cover this topic in another post, so for now lets discuss Amazon’s latest product offerings that allow affordable smart home tech for you today.

Amazon just announced a Smart Plug. Surprised? Uninspired? Don’t care? You actually should care. Amazon’s announcement of this particular smart plug is, to me, not a shock or a game changer, and it’s not something that’s necessarily new to the world. In fact, the only thing new about it is that it’s from Amazon.

Let’s take a minute to discuss what this is, now that you know what it is not. This a small/single outlet that you plug into your receptacle at home for power, and once powered, and connected via the Amazon app, is a switchable outlet. Still not impressed? It is also controllable via Amazon’s loveable voice assistant, Alexa. So what’s the big deal you ask? OK, well there actually is just a few more things to note:

  • Schedule lights, fans and appliances to turn on and off automatically, or control them remotely when you’re away.
  • Simple to set up and use — plug in, open the Alexa app, and start using your voice.
  • Compact design keeps your second outlet free.
  • No smart home hub required — set up routines and schedules through the Alexa app.

If you are not even slightly intrigued by this device by now, I should probably tell you more about controlled outlets, and what they cost, before we continue to enlighten you about Amazon $25 smart plug solution.

At home, it’s rare to see switched outlets, let alone controllable ones. Commercial buildings often get this luxury; yes, I called it a luxury, and it is slowly making it’s way into your homes, via building and energy codes. Californians know what I’m talking about — here we are often held to higher standards when it comes to this category (another topic of discussion, for a later date). The cost of a 15A, residential grade switched receptacle, depending on where you buy it can range from $9.50 – $15 before tax, and that is something you still have to hire an electrician for less than an hour’s worth of work at a rate of $80-$100 an hour to install for you. It’s also something that does not connect to the internet, does not have a larger control system to work with and doesn’t have voice control.

Think about what Amazon is offering you here at the cost of $25 each: You get half a controlled outlet that connects to the internet, voice control from Alexa, and the ability to start you smart home for far less than a new SUV with all the bells and whistles of modern day’s amenities. While a smart plug may seem pretty basic, it definitely opens up possibilities, allowing more people to get a taste of what smart homes can offer, without a huge cost buy-in. I’m not saying smart homes are not worth the cost, but there are new ways to dip your toe into the pool of home technology without spending a lot of time and money.

Amazon’s smart plug can be used with a ton on “dumb” devices, turning them into a crucial piece of your new smart home. For homes that may not have recessed lighting, you can now use a now connected floor lamp. You can plug in kitchen appliances like a microwave, blenders or a toaster for example. Well, perhaps instead of using the microwave, you could just buy Amazon Basic’s Microwave. I don’t think I need to explain how microwaves work, so instead I’ll tell you why this $59.99 one is your next step into Amazon’s branded smart home.

At first glance you’d think, why are you suggesting I purchase what looks to be Amazon’s rebranded microwave from 1982? Upon further inspection you should see a slight difference to the control panel; they added an “Ask Alexa” button?!

  • Now it’s easier to defrost vegetables, make popcorn, cook potatoes and reheat rice. With an Echo device (not included), quick-cook voice presets and a simplified keypad let you just ask Alexa to start microwaving.
  • Automatically reorder popcorn when you run low and save 10 percent on popcorn orders — enabled by Amazon Dash Replenishment technology
  • Compact size saves counter space.
  • It has 10 power levels, a kitchen timer, a child lock and a turntable.
  • Alexa is always getting smarter and adding new presets.

There’s no reason to have a voice function on an appliance that you physically have to interact with your hands — or is there? Think of this as an added feature, just incase your hands are dirty, you want to save a few extra button presses or just like the added convenience of voice control; voice control in your home is the new norm.

Being that Amazon has a handy dandy store, where you might already be purchasing things that arrive every two-days, this is another feature that has been added to this microwave. Sign up to automatically reorder popcorn and save 10 percent on popcorn orders. Choose from select popcorn brands in the Alexa app. When you make popcorn using your voice or the popcorn button, AmazonBasics microwave will reorder when you run low. Learn more.

Everyday, someone is building new smart devices; some for your home, others for your work or car. Rest assured, no matter what size, shape, operating system, or other determining factor, I will testing them for you. Send me some unique applications of your smart homes at: