For the tech-inclined party planner, the temptation is to round up all your lovely smart home kit and lock it away in the car for safekeeping. After all, things get broken at parties. Hearts, wine glasses, 4K TVs. Put simply, one of your guests might throw up in your smart fridge and that's a risk you have to take.
But take it you should because a connected home can be the perfect setting to throw a good, old fashioned party. Embrace your inner Tony Stark and combine high tech with highballs, starting with these devices and apps. It's all about how they work together.
An obvious one to start with but pretty much essential. Make a collaborative playlist and download it onto your phone or computer - it's up to you whether you let people add tunes on the night.
It works best if you have a Spotify Connect speaker (Wi-Fi streaming, Premium only) but not everyone has a Bang & Olufsen in the corner. Your Sonos system/home cinema kit/just-good-enough Bluetooth speaker will work just fine too.
$9.99 per month, spotify.com
Misfit Flash Link
This little guy gives you total control over the party without constantly getting your phone out. Clip the super cheap activity tracker/smart home button to your waist or onto a pocket and set up the music control in the Link app. You can set the wearable up so one button press skips a track on Spotify or takes a selfie using your phone.
We're not huge selfie fans but hey, we've seen people enjoy them at parties. Maybe it's a trend.
Another thing you can try with the Flash Link is hooking it up to IFTTT to build recipes based on pressing the Link as a trigger. If you've got a decent smart home set up, chances are you will already have mucked about with the If This Then That platform. Search 'party' and you don't get a whole lot of choice - it works best for regular daily or weekly actions.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do. For our smart party, we got the Misfit button involved with Philips Hue via IFTTT so that when we double pressed the Link, it started a colour flow. As you'll see below, we had two sets of tricks up our sleeve but the great thing about this set up is that you don't have to get your phone out and jab tipsily at the screen.
Get the IFTTT app on your phone and it will also send you an alert when a recipe has started running so you can keep track.
Philips Hue + Hue Disco
We tried a few paid for Hue apps which use your phone's microphone to pick up the tunes and match the lights to the beat, proper disco style. But we found them all to be quite naff/unreliable in action. Instead we downloaded Hue Disco, ignored its own 'disco' tab and used the 'mood' tab to cycle through hues at ten second intervals. The nice thing about this over the Misfit/IFTTT combo above is that if you have multiple lights, you can set it up to constrain hue to different colours, have them always the same hues, never the same or sometimes. We chose sometimes, it worked nicely.
Note: we tried to set up an IFTTT recipe in which multiple hues could be attributed to multiple songs in a Spotify playlist - so when they play the lights turn to a particular colour or scene. Ambitious, we know. We got close with a recipe using Feed as a trigger, the feed being a last.fm list scrobbled from Spotify. But last.fm's feeds were down so we were thwarted. Let us know if you've been luckier with this.
The final ingredient in mood setting - all you need to do at a party beyond drinks, possibly snacks - is what to do with the fancy 65in 4K TV that has been dominating your lounge since you bought it six months ago. Your saviour is YouTube Red - not a porn site - which is $9.99 but has a 30 day free trial. The new service only works in the US for now so if you're elsewhere, we'd download and mirror videos for now.
But it skips adverts and lets you download videos - two nice settings which mean you can put together an awesome YouTube playlist to play on a loop. Again, make it collaborative if you like. If you're lazy, here's one we made - mainly movie trailers and clips of dancing and space. People like dancing and space, OK.
If you haven't got a door cam and video entry, we're not suggesting you'll buy one just for a party. But if you're thinking about a security camera, now might be the time to invest. The Nest Cam is small and inconspicuous and will provide some laughs the next day as well as catching party thieves red-handed. Or try the Netatmo Welcome which gives you free access to video feeds when it sees a face that hasn't been tagged using its recognition software (i.e. the whole duration of your party).
What connected tech have you used to get your party started? Let us know in the comments or over on the Wareable Forum.
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