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Make a killer haunted house and other genius ways to use your smart devices this Halloween

2019-09-28

Halloween decorations seem to become more and more elaborate with each year. The number of lights and inflatable creatures populating the front lawns and porches of the nation continuously grows — there are even television specials and competitions dedicated to haunted home makeovers.

One of the most effective ways to elevate your scare game to a pro level is by incorporating the smart devices that you already own. These potent little gadgets can be utilized in a number of highly effective ways to enhance the atmosphere of both the indoor and outdoor environment of your home to create the best Halloween experience ever. 

(Right now, you can preorder the newest Echo, which should be delivered to your house and set up with plenty of time before Halloween. It's only $99.99.)

Here are a few ideas on how to get the most out of your smart devices this Hallow's Eve and make your house the talk of the neighborhood.

Devices you need

Besides a smartphone, you will need a few devices to create your holiday magic this Halloween. Following is a suggested list of items to help get you started.

Home voice assistant: If you preorder now, the new Amazon Echo will arrive by October 31. Its 3D sound will help you create the maximum spooky effect, and the thousands of voice commands will give you control over your whole home.

Smart doorbell: The Ring smart security doorbell works with Alexa and offers not only excellent audio and video quality, but it can also function as a motion detector, making it perfect for all of your Halloween needs.

Smart plug: The TP-Link HS 100 Smart Plug is a top-of-the-line smart plug that can function independently using the kasa app (Android and iOS) as well as function with a number of voice assistants for a hands-free experience.

Indoor smart lights: The easy-to-use LIFX Multi-Colored Dimmable LED Bulb works with Alexa and supports dimming and color settings through voice control so you can create the perfect mood for your Halloween festivities.

Outdoor smart lights: Philip's Alexa-compatible Outdoor Smart Spot Light kit gives you up to 16 million colors and shades so you can paint your outdoor environment in the ideal hues for the spooky season.

Bluetooth speakers: This portable Bluetooth speaker can quickly be positioned wherever you'd like – behind a tree, in the bushes, etc. It can play for up to 12 continuous hours (more than enough for Halloween) and even has a built-in light if you'd like to add a strobe effect to the festivities.

Motion sensor: The Chamberlain Wireless Motion Detector is waterproof and uses a passive infrared sensor, which alerts you when someone has entered your property... allowing you to trigger the lights and sounds to let the fun begin.

Smart doorbell

One of the most important elements to executing a good jump scare is the timing. The camera on a smart doorbell can clue you in to the perfect moment to trigger a clap of thunder, a scream, or a barking dog sound effect. Even better, you can use the two-way audio feature on your smart doorbell along with a creepy voice and a simple "Boo!" to give all your visitors a significant startle.

Smart plugs

Think of your smart plugs as remotely controlled on/off switches. You can use your smartphone, virtual assistant, or smart home device to turn specific smart outlets on and off whenever you desire. 

For instance, if you'd like different lights to illuminate your home at designated times or intervals to create a simple home light show (both inside and out), you can do that manually or via an external trigger, such as a motion detector

Or, if you'd prefer your fog machine to turn on the instant anyone steps onto your porch, that kind of wizardry is effortless to perform with a motion detector or a doorbell camera and a smart plug. The many ways you can use a smart plug to trigger specific devices is only limited by your creativity.

Smart lights

Most people think it's the sudden turning on of a light that produces the best reaction. However, it's far more effective to turn all the lights off, plunging an unsuspecting visitor into absolute darkness without warning, especially if it is accompanied by a sinister laugh that emanates from behind a nearby bush. 

Alternatively, flashing on an orange or red living room light can make a frightful silhouette suddenly visible in your front bay window, giving your visitors a delightful scare. However, if you don't want to terrify your little costumed guests, color-changing smart lights can be used to subtly alter the atmosphere of your home.

Bluetooth speakers

Internal speakers can provide the soundtrack to your Halloween party and make every room in your house part of the festivities. However, a far more fun (and scary) application of Bluetooth speakers is to cleverly hide a few outdoor models in strategic places so you can produce sounds such as shuffling footsteps, groans, rustling leaves, or even whispers in the dark that are triggered whenever people approach your home.

The method of control

The key component to creating the most effective ghostly experience is the controller. The type of controller (or the combination of controllers) you decide to use is ultimately up to you as each has its benefits. You could even choose multiple ways to trigger your Halloween effects, if desired.

Smartphone: If you like to be in charge, waiting for the perfect moment to cue that iconic theme from the movie Halloween, this is possible with the right app. Want to turn on that jack-o-lantern light when someone steps on your porch? You can do that as soon as you hear the doorbell ring. For many people, having the ultimate controller in the palm of their hand is the most satisfying approach to delivering a scare.

Voice assistant: If you prefer speaking your commands from your recliner instead of tapping your smartphone, you'd be better off engaging your home's voice assistant in the Halloween shenanigans. You still get all the satisfaction from controlling the action in the moment, but you can use your voice instead of your finger.

Motion sensors: If you'd like to more fully enjoy the reaction from your trick-or-treaters and not worry about personally setting off the scare, use a device such as a motion sensor to automatically trigger light effects and spooky music when your little guests step onto the front porch.

Automation: This last option is for people who want to have consistent changes that aren't tied to a particular catalyst. You could set up your smartphone, for example, to adjust the hues of your outdoor lights and reshuffle your Spotify playlist every 20 minutes so the two combine to make a dazzling audiovisual presentation three times every hour.  

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews.   BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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