August 16, 2022

Control home appliances by voice with your smartphone using a smart remote control!

4 min read

With the smart remote control, you can control general home appliances operated by the remote control, such as turning on the power of the air conditioner and setting the temperature from outside, and turning on / off the lighting by voice operation. Let’s introduce how to choose a smart remote controller and how to actually use it.
What is a smart remote controller?
Smart remote controls add remote controls for TVs, air conditioners, lighting, etc., and can be operated from smartphone apps and smart speakers. It can be purchased from home electronics mass retailers, as well as online shopping such as Amazon and Rakuten Ichiba, and the price ranges from 3,000 to 13,000 yen depending on the function.

Below is a summary of checkpoints for choosing a smart speaker, so please refer to it.

・ Communication standard

Since most remote controls for home appliances use infrared communication, smart remote controls are basically compatible with infrared communication.

However, please note that Bluetooth remote controls have recently appeared. If the remote control of the home appliance you want to control includes Bluetooth specifications, you need to select a smart remote control that supports Bluetooth.

Also, check the effective range of infrared communication. When controlling multiple home appliances with one smart remote controller, the distance between the smart remote controller and the home appliances tends to be large. Therefore, choose a smart remote controller with a wide effective range of 15 to 20 m or more.

・ Compatible remote control

The smart remote control is preset with a remote control for each device of each home appliance manufacturer, and it is easy to add.

The more types of presets you have, the more compatible with a wide range of home appliance remote controls, so please check which product of which manufacturer is preset on the manufacturer’s website. In particular, overseas-made smart remote controls may not be compatible with Japanese-made home appliance remote controls.

However, even if you don’t have a preset, you can add it with the learning function, although it will take more time, so let’s check if you can easily add a remote control other than the preset.

・ Various sensors

The presence or absence of various sensors such as temperature sensors, humidity sensors, illuminance sensors, and motion sensors is also important.

For example, if you want to use something like “turn on the air conditioner when the room temperature exceeds 28 ° C”, you need a temperature sensor. Imagine which home appliances you want to control and how, and choose the product with the built-in sensor you need.

・ IFTTT

“IFTTT” is a platform for easily linking apps and web services from different manufacturers.

Easily create settings to operate specific appliances for certain conditions, such as “turn on the air conditioner and lights when you arrive at the nearest station” and “turn on the TV at 6 am”. I can. IFTTT compatible products are recommended because various settings can be made easily.

・ Scene function

The scene function allows you to control multiple home appliances at once for each life scene, such as setting a timer to play music on the timer and turning off the lights at bedtime.

A smart remote controller with a scene function is more convenient because it makes it easier to control multiple home appliances.

・ Cooperation with smart speakers

If you want to control your home appliances by voice via a smart speaker (or voice assistant app), make sure that what you want to use is compatible.

There are smart remote controls that support the “Amazon Echo” series, “Google Nest” series, “LINE CLOVA”, “Siri”, etc., but there are smart remote controls that do not support all of them.

Setting and using the smart remote control
Next, I will introduce how to set up and use the smart remote controller.

The smart remote controller used this time is the “SwitchBot Hub Mini” owned by the author (price.com lowest price 3,510 yen, as of July 14, 2022). It’s cheap, so it doesn’t have a built-in sensor. Therefore, we use a separate “SwitchBot Thermo-Hygrometer” (price.com lowest price 2,480 yen, as of July 14, 2022).

This is an example of using “iPhone” and “Siri” to control these. Detailed operations differ depending on the device used, so please imagine the general flow.
● Initial setting of SwitchBot Hub Mini
First, install the dedicated app “SwitchBot” from the App Store and create an account.  Select “OK” to use Bluetooth and “Allow” for notification.

In addition to registering a new email address and password, the account also supports login with an Apple ID, Google account, or Amazon account.
Next, make the initial settings for the SwitchBot Hub Mini.

When you plug in the included USB power cable (power adapter required separately), the SwitchBot Hub Mini will power on and the LED indicator will start blinking white.

When the screen changes and the setting guidance screen appears, press and hold the button on the top of the SwitchBot Hub Mini for about 3 seconds. The indicator will now start blinking quickly.

When you tap “Next” in the app, the Wi-Fi setting screen will appear, so enter the SSID and Wi-Fi password of your home Wi-Fi and tap “OK”.

The SwitchBot Hub Mini does not support the Wi-Fi 5GHz band, so you will be using the 2.4GHz band.

When the connection starts and “Success” is displayed, the initial settings are complete. If you want to save your password in iCloud Keychain, tap Save Password on the screen that appears.

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