The Smart Home — Holiday Season Edition

6 min readDec 5, 2017
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Here at, we are constantly asked for advice on what devices to install or how to design home electronics around connected and IoT devices for the best experience. Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the Holiday Season is officially upon us, everyone is looking forward to fun holiday parties and new gadgets for gift-giving.

What better way to impress your friends at your holiday party than being able to tell your home to “get in the holiday spirit,” and have it respond by changing the lights, playing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” throughout the home, and putting on Elf for the kids in the family room?

Here are some great ideas for transforming your home using into a holiday smart home.

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Let there be LIGHT

Whether you’re hosting a large gathering or something small and intimate, proper lighting can go a long way. A professionally installed whole-home solution, such as Lutron’s Homeworks QS, is one of the best ways to dramatically transform your home’s environment. By simply pushing a button on one of the wall keypads, you can change your home’s lighting to “party mode,” which brings down the lighting temperature to a softer glow … guaranteed to make all look their best.

You also have full control on your mobile device using Lutron’s app. For this sort of a solution, you work with a home technology professional to design, install, and configure your lighting to exactly what you want.

If you’re more of the do-it-yourself-er, you can get a starter pack of Philips Hue bulbs and be up and running pretty quickly. Philips Hue also allows you to change the colors of your lights — perfect for a Christmas themed red and green room experience. While you don’t get keypads installed on the wall to control these lights, you can control them using your mobile device and the Philips Hue app.

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For all those Christmas lights you like to put up outside and throughout your house, including the Christmas tree, you can easily control when they go on and off using a Wemo switch smart plug. The app gives you the power to control the lights when you’re not at home, which comes in handy when you forgot to turn the lights on or off and won’t be home for hours.

To take it to the next level, you can add voice control using Josh works with all three lighting brands, and lets you voice control any or all of the lighting systems, together or individually. For example, you could say something like

Ok Josh, dim the lights in the kitchen, make the lights red in the living room, and turn on the Christmas tree lights.

MUSIC to my ears

Besides getting the lighting just right, the right tunes in the air can make all the difference. A professionally installed distributed audio setup is of course the slickest way to spread the wonderful music throughout your home. If you’ve got a passion for an insanely good sound experience, check out what Meridian Audio has to offer. This system is professionally designed and installed, so you and your home technology professional will work together to choose the best setup for your music listening tastes.

Photo courtesy Meridian Audio

If you’d rather setup the music experience yourself, Sonos is by far the best system for the value. You can easily group together multiple Sonos speakers throughout the home using the Sonos app to play your favorite streaming music in multiple rooms.

Josh and voice control can make the experience even better, because of our deep-linking technology. Forget about opening up an app and searching for music you want to play. With Josh’s voice control, you can just say what you want, where you want it.

Ok Josh, play All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey in the Living Room and Dining Room

Play some VIDEO

Want an easy way to keep all the kids entertained? How about turning on one of their favorite movies that will keep them busy for hours? Many TVs today come internet enabled with Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services built right in. But for those TVs that don’t have streaming services enabled, you can get a Roku for under $50 to plug into the TV that can stream all of your favorite content. Just switch to the proper input on your TV, open the appropriate streaming app (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc), and navigate to your content.

Photo courtesy Roku

But also, wouldn’t it be great to not have to take the time to navigate through all the streaming services and figure out which service is the right one to use? That’s where Josh can help. Because of our deep-linking technology, all you have to say what you want to watch, and Josh will automatically turn on your TV, switch to the right input, figure out which service can stream the movie (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc), and automatically start to play it.

Ok Josh, watch Elf in the family room.


Having IoT devices and connected systems in the home lets you control what you want, typically using an app. It can get cumbersome, though, to have to open each app separately on your phone to do what you want. Also, say you want to schedule lights, music, and TV to turn off at sunset — you’d have to go through and schedule this three different times in at least three different apps.

Creating a scene using the Josh app

Josh brings everything together to one place to let you control everything seamlessly, under one app. For voice control, you can use the Josh app to setup a scene that will set the lights, music, and TV when you say “Ok Josh, get into the holiday spirit.”

What’s more, Josh’s voice technology lets you speak naturally to ask for what you want, including multiple things at once, for a truly magical experience. If you’re someone who likes to be a bit more improvisational depending on the mood, you could come up with your own scene on the fly, and say:

Ok Josh, dim the lights to 40% all over the house, play Christmas Music in the dining room, and watch Love Actually in the family room.

Hands Free Voice Control with Josh is an artificial intelligence agent for your home. If you’re interested in learning more, visit us at

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