Using Google Home App to Create the Illusion of Occupancy While Traveling

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using google home app to create the illusion of occupancy while traveling
using google home app to create the illusion of occupancy while traveling

Thanks to home automation you can simulate that there are people at home when it is empty. Perfect when you have to travel for work or vacation.

Security in our homes is something that worries more and more people. On the one hand there is the problem of squatting, and on the other the enormous increase in trips and outings that Spaniards carry out. Going out to eat, weekend getaways, international trips… it seems that in Spain it is rare to spend a weekend at home anymore .

For this reason, the use of security cameras , the hiring of alert systems connected to the police, etc. has increased. But there are more ways to protect the house, beyond monitoring it . It can be made to look like people are home even when there isn’t, making it more difficult for burglars to choose a home to rob.

To do this, you need some devices, not particularly expensive , and some application to control them. Or, rather, programming. In this case, Google Home has been used, although it could be done with Alexa, Home Assistant or other home automation control systems.

The devices

Logically, simulating that there are people at home requires certain hardware, which is not particularly expensive. These are home automation devices such as speakers or lamps , but you can also use things that are already at home for other reasons, such as a smart vacuum cleaner or the television itself .

Special mention to smart speakers, which are normally used as a command input method, with voice commands, but in this case they will be used as output methods, to play music, podcasts, etc. Thus, seeking not to skyrocket spending, three groups of hardware devices will be created.

  • Lights: The most obvious way to pretend that there are people at home is to turn on the lights. For this, two types of devices can be used, smart light bulbs or smart plugs . The latter are more versatile if you want to control lamps that are not compatible with certain bulbs.
  • Sounds : Another way to simulate that there are people at home is to have sounds play. The easiest way is to play music on certain speakers in the house at certain times. It’s also a good idea to play the news or podcasts, because the conversation is more similar to that of people inside the house. This would require at least one speaker, in the case of this example compatible with the Google Assistant, but the same could be done with Alexa. The price of the simplest ones does not reach 30 euros , something that we will discuss in the next section, so the outlay is not especially large.
  • Others: You can also use devices you have at home for other reasons to activate and turn them off on a scheduled and remote basis. A good example is the television, which can be programmed with devices such as those from Broadlink . Smart vacuum cleaners also fall into this section, which can be programmed to perform cleaning routines at certain times, even if no one is home.

The application

As mentioned before, the application that will be used is Google Home , although there are other alternatives. In this case, routines would have to be created based on the preferred hours to simulate presence at home. It is possible, however, to create several routines, perhaps some with sound during the day and some with lights at night. Creating routines is very simple, and can be done by following these steps:

  • Select the Automatic option from the lower options bar.
  • Click on the Add+ button.
  • Select one of the two types of Routine, Home or Personal, depending on whether or not you want to share control of it.
  • Give the routine a title.
  • Select Activators.
  • Tap At a specific time.
  • Select the time and days of repetition.
  • Click Add activator.
  • Select Add Action.
  • Click on Set up home devices.
  • Select the device.
  • Select the action to execute.
  • Click Add Action.

This would have to be done with each of the devices that you want to configure. Ideally, you should set different times for different days, so that it is not logical to deduce a pattern. For example, if you are away for a week, put the even days with one routine and the odd days with another.

The cost

Logically, the use of these devices implies a cost, but it is not especially high, and surely many are already at home if home automation is something of interest. For less than 100 euros you can buy a pair of smart light bulbs (15 euros) , a pack of connected plugs (22 euros) and a pair of basic speakers (50 euros) , which also serve as a TV controller using infrared.

A date like Black Friday is usually a good time to purchase these devices in case you don’t already have them at home or if one is missing to create this type of routine. On Amazon on that day (or week in recent years) there are strong discounts, even 50% on some products.

Of course, this configuration example can be much more complete and expensive, but the most interesting thing is that they are devices that are already in many homes for normal functions, such as lighting or playing music. Normally, you don’t have to buy everything expressly for this task. Likewise, if security matters a lot, it is not a bad idea to complement this with a surveillance camera system , whether indoor or outdoor, or even a smart doorbell .

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise