When most people think of Smarthomes, they think of voice lamps and video calls. But the gadgets you already have can be used to take your Halloween decorations to the next level.
When you install Halloween decorations, you are likely to run into one of two problems. Either you always have to leave connected devices on, or you have to rely on analog timers, which are hard to set up and waste time quickly. This is especially problematic if you’re trying to keep everything in sync. And one of the best Halloween decorations, the Jack-o’-Lantern can be the most tiring to light and keep lit.
Make your Jack-O-Lantern more intimidating and safer
When most people make a flashlight, they cut a round hole in the top of the gourd, scoop out the innards, and then cut a fun pattern out of the side. This makes it difficult to place the tea light, light it from above, and hope it’s bright enough to make the drawing shine.
This year, let’s start from the bottom. By cutting the hole from the bottom instead of the top, you get more holes to work with and put the pumpkin on top of the light instead of the light in the pumpkin.
This trick works even better with smart lights. It’s easy enough to cut a cutout in the back of the gourd for the power cord. You can then put a smart light in it, like a Philips Hue Go. With the Philips Hue lamp, you can do fun things that you can’t do with a regular lamp or candle.
For example, you can change the light to any spooky color you want, or even put other colors on rotation. If you like the flicker of a candle, you can achieve a similar effect for your smart light with an app like OnSwitch (for Android and iOS).
With a little more work, you can even install a smart motion sensor or your smart video intercom’s motion detection capability to activate or change the flashlight light when people approach.
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Put Spooky Music right where (and when) you need it
You can spend Halloween as the best werewolf DJ on the street, but if you have a streaming music service and a house full of Amazon Echo or Google Home devices, you have to let them do the hard work. Find your favorite Halloween playlist and set up multi-room audio for all your devices. Both Echo and Dom support this, and if the song isn’t to your liking, all you have to do is ask them to skip it. Saying Google Home «let’s get scared» plays a Halloween-themed soundtrack and flickers any smart lights it has access to.
If you are placing your smart speaker outside, be sure to place it in a separate room or group in your app and give it a descriptive name like Porch or Outside. Then you can easily control only this speaker and wait until the tricks start to start the music. You can talk to the smart speaker in the house and have it play spooky music on an external device. You can use an Echo or Google Home mini dot mount so you better hide the device for more scares or you can even stick it in a spare flashlight to make them sing scary songs!
And don’t just stop at the music. Click Spotify or Google Music or whatever service you are using and search for «scary sound effects» to find all kinds of fun stuff.
Make sure you don’t miss any trick or treat
If you have a video doorbell, you’ll get more use out of it on Halloween than any other day of the year, so make the most of it. Make sure you adjust the motion sensitivity appropriately and you won’t miss a single trick or treat.
Extra credit: Head to IFTT and connect your doorbell to your smart light. When a trick or treat rings the bell, it can change the colors of your lights or fade out when you play spooky music.
CONNECTED:How to flash your lights when someone rings your doorbell
Keep Your Porch Light (But Make It More Interesting)
If you’re hosting tricks or treats, you need a porch light. You can replace the light bulb with a smart light bulb for bright colors (or if you don’t have bad weather, an indoor bulb is probably fine for the evening).
If you already have a Wink or Smartthings hub, you can also replace the light switch for a Z-Wave or ZigBee smart switch. You’ll get the benefits of automation and voice control so you don’t have to worry about someone turning off the lights instead of using an app or voice assistant. For spooky color, buy a cheap colored LED light and use it for the holiday. If you’re making a scary house, you can stealthily kill the light for a quick scare.
RELATED:Which smart light switch should you buy?
Make your other rooms Spookier, too
You can also use many of these ideas in other rooms of your home to give your home’s exterior a little extra spooky feel (or interior if that’s your thing). If you have intimidating window braces or other items attached to the window, place some smart lights in close proximity. You can use fun colors and subdued lights to create some creepy window scenes. Even if you don’t have window decorations, a shimmering red room can be scary on its own.
You can even create a routine that dims your street lights and lights up your windows at the same time, creating a fun little show. A sudden, unexpected light can cast a shadow over a bat-filled window when kids least expect it.
If you have color-changing lights, Halloween is the perfect night to use these rarely used options. Change the room to orange or red. Set up some routines to slowly change the colors of the lights throughout the night to add to the atmosphere. If you have any smart plugs in the house, pair them to turn devices off and on to add a haunted house feel.
RELATED:The best smart plugs
Have fun outside
Halloween lights, strobe lights, and sensor-controlled witches and goblins are a lot of fun — except at three in the morning when the animal turns them on and the house is too bright. Instead, consider using smart plugs to control whatever device you plug in. Outdoor smart plugs are sold in ZigBee, Z-Wave or Wi-Fi form factors. Most outdoor ZigBee and Z-Wave outlets only control one device (sometimes with a second plug always on). Some outdoor Wi-Fi outlets often have two smart plugs, but instead of syncing with a hub, they have their own app and usually connect to Amazon Echo and Google Home devices.
Just like with a porch light, you can discreetly control devices and suddenly turn them on to scare.
Use sensors and procedures to automate your manual work
Once everything is set up, don’t leave it to manual control. Your hub and your voice device support routines (or robots, etc.) to automate your work for you and sync your devices together. If you have any motion sensors, connect them to the treatment so that when tricks or musical instruments approach, your music will start playing and the lights will flash and change colors.
If you have multiple smart lights, turn some off and others will turn off while others will turn off. It’s time to throw a bright orange light on the window that has scary decorations. This will free you from offering goodies or tricks to the best of your imagination. The final part of the routine should end in a well-lit driveway so young tricks or treats can easily find their way to candy.
By tying everything together, you get maximum enjoyment with minimum effort. With everything taking care of itself, you can focus on handing out candy or finding the best cover to jump out of at the start of the show. Just make sure your video doorbell or your smart cameras are recording all the fun!
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