From Tips & Tricks

The perfect Vacation (Mode)

Summer is the time of vacations. All across the country, people are leaving work for the beach, mountains, lakes, cities, and national parks. It’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. Pack the bags and leave normal life behind for a week. You deserve it!

And don’t think about your home while you’re away. One of the best things that a connected home gives you is peace of mind. Your home is filled with sensors that will let you know if anything’s amiss. If you want to see what’s happening, you can go to one of your cameras and see what’s happening no matter where you are. When you’re on vacation, you can rest easy knowing that your home is secure and your belongings are safe.

But your home can do more than just give you peace of mind. It can also react to things the way you’d react. When you go away on vacation, your home can behave differently than when you’re there, saving you energy while avoiding unnecessary notifications. All it takes is a couple tweaks to your Vacation Mode.

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Which devices can start Activities?

One of the most common questions we receive is “Which devices can I use to start my Activity?” We all know that devices can start Activities but we’re not always sure which devices actually do that. Wonder no more. Today, we’ll review the Staples Connect-supported devices that start Activities and give you some guidelines to know whether or not you can use a device for this purpose.

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Take the load off Dad’s shoulders

Few connections in life are stronger than a father and his son. Our fathers shape us deeply. They are our protectors, role models, occasional jungle gyms, encouragers, and providers. We look to them for advice and help when things are challenging.

As our fathers get older, the relationship flips. The children become the caregivers. We get a chance to give back to our fathers, thanking them for what they’ve meant to us.

Ultimately, we want to make their lives easier. Our dads work hard their whole life to provide for us. The least we can do is to give them something to make their lives easier.

One of the best uses of Staples Connect is to make things easier and more accessible around your dad’s home. Here’s a few ways you can do that.

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Smart homes and smarter parents

Parents have a lot on their plates. They have to make sure their children are fed, healthy, safe, educated, clean, entertained, happy, social…the list goes on and on. And it never stops. As a parent, you don’t get a day off. Your first priority will always be your kids. Your energy goes towards making sure they are fully taken care of.

This can be exhausting. And terrifying. And it’s only Thursday.

Oh, and there’s that technology thing. Your life—and the life of your children—is more connected than ever thanks to the Internet, social media, smartphones, wearables, and now smart home technology. Technology greatly affects how you raise your kids.

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Even on Vacation, your home still works for you

“Vacation.”

Ahh, the joys that word brings to mind. It’s when we get to relax, go somewhere warm and tropical, kick off our shoes, lie in our chairs, sipping pina coladas as the world goes by. It’s beautiful. It’s needed. With all that we’ve got going on during our lives, we need time to unwind and not think about everyday things. We need our island in the sun.

When we’re on vacation, there’s plenty of things we don’t want to do, like thinking about work, getting up early, doing chores…the list goes on. One of them is tipping the neighborhood that we won’t be home for a few days. We don’t want our house to become a target when we’re not there.

Fortunately, Staples Connect gives us a way to address this.

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Staples Connect: the hostess with the mostest

Spring is in the air. Full days of sunshine are finally upon us as the weather continues to warm up. It’s the perfect season to have some well-deserved fun with your friends. As Robin Williams would say, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’” And we completely agree: it’s time to party!

The date is set and your guests have all been invited. After spending countless hours searching Pinterest, you’ve finally found the perfect hors d’oeuvres. Desert? Eh, piece of cake. And thanks to the creative geniuses of Pinterest, your mind is swirling with decoration ideas. Unfortunately, time isn’t on your side. You’ve got less than a day to figure out how to make your home party-ready.

Time may not be on your side, but technology certainly is.

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Connect with your loved one this Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day, the universal day to celebrate love. Whether you’re single, in a relationship, engaged, or married, this day sets the tone for your romantic expectations. And no matter your relationship status, the pressure is on to have an unforgettable night, whether rejoicing in singledom or wowing your loved one.

Each year, you try to make Valentine’s Day the most special one yet. This year, make Valentine’s Day special but skip the usual expensive restaurants, dramatic roses, and stunning pieces of jewelry. Instead of fighting the Valentine’s Day crowd, enjoy a relaxing, quiet night with your significant other right in your own home. We know you’re very busy and don’t get to spend as much alone time as you’d like with your better half, so lose the pressure and enjoy those precious moments you share together.

With Staples Connect, you can have a romantic evening without having to leave the comfort of your home.  You’ll get to celebrate your love in the place you feel most at peace. And instead of spending time and money shopping for the perfect token of your love, enjoy the company of your significant other.

We’re going to help you set the perfect scene to impress and surprise your loved one using your Staples Connect home automation system. Show your love in an easier, more affordable, stress-free way without losing any romantic flair—or having to find a babysitter.

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Modes let your home stay in sync with you

Staples Connect now has Modes

Staples Connect has very passionate users who aren’t afraid to let us know what they want, which we’re very thankful for. You’ve sent us a lot of great feedback, some of which we’ve been able to incorporate into the Staples Connect app. Today, we’re pleased to announce the most-requested feature: Modes.

Many of you already know about Modes and will be delighted to hear this. For those of you who don’t know what Modes are, the easiest way to define them is to describe what they do.

Modes let your home stay in sync with you.

None of us interact with our homes the same way all the time. We adjust the thermostat depending on whether we’re sleeping or awake, home or away, by ourselves or with company.

However, home automation systems sometimes have trouble staying in sync with you. They’re good at controlling devices but they can’t interpret things like humans can. They can tell whether or not to turn lights on based on what hour it is but not whether or not you’re actually at home to need the lights on.

Today, we’re changing that. Staples Connect now has Modes, which let your home react to your life like you react to it.

Let’s say you have an Activity that sends you a notification if your window sensor is opened. If you’re home, the window sensor being open is probably because you opened the window, so the notification isn’t helpful. But if you’re away, the window sensor being open might be concerning and you’d want to know what’s going on around your home, so the notification is critical.

With Modes, you can tell your system to notify you that the window sensor is open when you’re away but not when you’re home. Your home can now react to the same event in different ways, just like you do.

There’s two other things to know about Modes. First, you can tell a Mode to adjust devices when you activate it—for example, to turn on some lights when you activate Home Mode. Second, you can activate a Mode with the app, just like a Manual Activity, or when a device adjusts. Your home can automatically enter Home Mode when you unlock your front door.

Still with us? We know it’s a lot of information all at once, so let’s get some familiarity with it by setting up your Home Mode like we just described.

First, we need to choose which Activities will run in your Mode. You can run a Manual Activity from any Mode but Automatic Activities can be turned on and off for each Mode. If you don’t want that Door/Window Sensor to notify you when you’re home, you can turn its Activity off in Home Mode so that it won’t run. (By default, all Automatic Activities are turned on. If you choose not to use Modes, your home will still run as it did before.)

To choose which Activities will run in our Home Mode:

  1. Open the app, then tap Modes.
  2. Tap the right arrow on Home Mode to edit it.
  3. Tap “Activities are enabled”.
  4. Choose the Activities that you want to be enabled or disabled in the Mode. To start, we’ll turn off most of the Activities that send us notifications except for our water sensor next to our hot water heater.
  5. When you’ve enabled the Activities you want, tap Save.

When we’re home, now that we’ve set up the Mode, most of our Notification Activities won’t run but the Activity for our hot water heater sensor will run and notify us if it detects water.

Now, let’s set up the Mode to start when we want it to. We can do this by creating a trigger so that Home Mode automatically starts whenever you unlock your door. You can still trigger Home Mode using your app, just like a Manual Activity, but now our home can change to Home Mode when we arrive home.

To create this trigger:

  1. On the Home Mode page, tap “Manually and 0 more triggers”, then tap “Add Trigger”.
  2. Tap “Choose a device to trigger this Mode”, then tap the Front Door Lock, which we’ll use to start our Home Mode.
  3. We need to get a little more specific, so tap Trigger Reason and choose “A new user code is successfully entered.”
    1. You can schedule the trigger so that it only runs at certain times of the day but we don’t need that for our trigger. “Any time of day” is fine for us.
  4. Finally, we need to give our trigger a name. Let’s call ours “Front Door Unlocks.” When you’re done, tap Save.

By now, we’ve told our home which Activities should run when we’re home and told it a situation where it should enter Home Mode. The last thing we want to do is to turn on a couple lights when we arrive home. We’d like our new LG ZigBee Bulbs in the living room to turn on and our Bose SoundTouch 20 Series II to start playing our favorite song.

To turn these lights on when the Mode starts:

  1. On the Home Mode page, tap “Devices adjust,” then tap Edit List.
  2. Choose the device you want to adjust, then tap Save.
  3. Tell each of the devices what you want them to do and adjust their levels.
  4. When everything looks good, tap Save.

Great! We’ve set up our Home Mode to do everything that we’d do when we arrive home. Now we won’t have to wonder whether something really important is happening or not. Our home is behaving like we would. This is good.

Modes don’t change the way we interact with our homes. They make our homes reflect the way we interact with them. They’re the most powerful feature of Staples Connect, and we’re pleased to introduce them today.

How will you use your Modes?