Living the smart life

by Chris Green, Tech Advisor

There are so many different types of technology out there, it can be hard to keep up. In this series of blog posts, I’m going to take a look at some of the latest accessibility tech to see if it’s worth it. Whether you’re a tech expert or just starting to think about the possibilities, we’re sure you’ll find something new here.

In this post, we will discuss the merits of introducing a smart speaker such as an Amazon Alexa or Google Home into the house, and the associated costs of entry.

So, what is smart tech?

This is a diverse subject with many offshoots, but the general definition is as follows:

It is a technology that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analysis to provide cognitive awareness to objects that were in the past considered inanimate.

In this series of blog posts, we will be focusing on ‘Smart Devices’. The definition of a smart device is as follows:

A smart device is an electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols such as WiFi. They can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously.

Some examples of smart devices you may already be familiar with:

  • Amazon Alexa
  • Google Home
  • Smart Phones (Android or Apple)
What is a Smart Speaker?

If you’ve ever heard someone saying ‘Alexa’… ‘Hey Google’… or ‘Siri’ then they are most likely initiating contact with a smart speaker. A smart speaker is a speaker with a built-in microphone that allows users to interact with other smart devices or internet services using their voice.

Saying these keywords (‘Alexa’… ‘Hey Google’… or ‘Siri’) is a way of opening a line to the internet, the same as picking up the phone is opening a line ready to dial a number. It is the job of a smart speaker to translate your spoken word into text which is then sent via the internet as a question or command.


graphic depicting how a smart device works and a person's interaction with it


What will it do for me?

The examples below can be performed by using voice commands anywhere in the room:

  • Listen to your favourite radio station, audiobook or play your favourite song
  • Set alarms, timers, reminders, calendar entries and create/recall lists
  • Listen to the news and weather
  • Recipes, conversion tools and calculations
  • Make free calls
  • Control other smart connected devices such as lighting, TV, heating thermostats and power points
What will I need to get going?
  • An internet connection at your home address
  • An email address
  • A smart phone or tablet for initial setup **
  • A smart speaker

**it’s possible that a friend could complete the initial setup for you

How much will it cost?

If you have no internet, smart phone or tablet then the initial setup cost will vary depending on the devices you choose. The prices below are based on what I feel would provide adequate performance for value.

One off cost

Email account – FREE
Smart phone or tablet – £80
Smart speaker – £30

Ongoing costs

Average cost for a basic internet connection – £19 pcm

Is it worth it?

Personally, as someone who has been using smart devices for a number of years, I have grown accustomed to the convenience of having an encyclopaedia of information to hand for those moments when the grey matter isn’t up to the job.

I also like that my smart speaker doubles up as a radio alarm clock, controls my lighting, I can set my house alarm remotely or control my heating if I’m away.

Do I ‘need’ a smart speaker in my life? Probably not, but it sure does help.


If you’d like more advice or help setting up tech in your home, please do get in touch with me, or my colleague Ali, and we can discuss the possibilities available to you.