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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Turn Your Smart Home Into a Haunted House With Spooky Tech

Halloween Season is here. It’s time to put up decorations and turn your boring, everyday house into a spectacular, seasonal haunted house. Skeletons, gravestones, and giant spiders crawling out of the attic and basement all help create a creepy atmosphere. But if you really want to lift your Halloween spirits, you need to add lights, sounds, and eerie projections. 

We are going to show you how your tech devices can deliver more chills and thrills. When you’re done trick-or-treating and the party's over, settle in with scary video games, horror movies, or spooky board games.

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Fright Lights

The right lighting creates mystery and tension in scary movies, and it can do the same for your Halloween decor. With a well-placed flashlight or spotlight, a simple card cutout can become a shadowy, outsize silhouette. You can also place lights at the base of your best decorations to enhance the creepy factor. 

If you have smart light bulbs, you can dim them and introduce different colors. But you should also check your app. Anyone with smart light strips, bulbs, or the Flow Pro light bars from Govee should keep an eye out for seasonal light effects in the next few weeks. For example, if you have Philips Hue lights, there’s a Halloween scene in Hue Labs that turns your lights purple, green, and orange. The Blood Moon preset scene would also work. 

If you want truly spooky lighting effects, I recommend springing for the HueDynamic app (Android or iOS). The app offers animated experiences, which are scenes that emulate events like stormy lightning and candlelight. The Halloween options are even better and include spooky atmospheres, undead pulsing, and even a passing ghost effect. 

For string lights and regular lamps inside pumpkins or decorations, use smart plugs to schedule your display, or have lights turn on or off in response to triggers.

Consider setting up a motion sensor or creating a trigger from another device, like your smart doorbell or security camera, to kick off your chosen lighting effect. But if you want to give visitors a real jump scare, you must add sound.

Spooky Sounds

If you’re looking for the perfect horror sound effects or a playlist of Halloween-themed songs, then you will find loads of suitably scary options on Spotify or YouTube. Strategically hidden Bluetooth speakers inside decorations, or even pumpkins, can add a lot of atmosphere.

All the best smart speakers can help you frighten guests or create the haunting ambiance you are after. If you have any Alexa speakers, simply say "Alexa, let's get spooky." and it will run through different options. There are many Halloween-related skills, such as Spooky Halloween Sounds, Scary Monster, and Spine Chilling Halloween Sounds.

Say "Hey Google, get spooky," and you’ll get some sound effects and spooky music on any Google speakers or smart displays you have. You can also ask Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri for costume ideas or to tell you a scary story.

Ring, Nest, and some other smart doorbells offer Halloween sounds and chimes that can replace your regular ringtone. Take a look at your app and see if you have seasonal options. In the Ring app, choose your device and tap Chime Tones. In the Nest app, look in Settings, then Doorbell Theme.

For best results, create a trigger that sets off lighting and sound effects when someone approaches. You can use IFTTT to link devices together and create a terrifying sequence. When someone presses the doorbell, for example, you could turn off all your front lights for a second, have them come back on in red, and then play a blood-curdling scream.

Scary Scenes

Serious Halloween fans looking to take things to the next level should check out digital decorations. Atmos FX sells MP4 files that you can play on a monitor or stick on a USB drive to play on your TV, but they work best with projectors. You can play ghostly apparitions, shambling zombies, and many more things that go bump in the night. 

Many come with or without backgrounds and in a horizontal or vertical format to suit your setup. The talking jack-o'-lanterns are great for younger kids and can even be projected onto real pumpkins. To scare older kids and adults, try the Night Stalkers collection.

I tried out the AtmosKIT Plus ($359), which bundles together some of the best Halloween decorations with a ViewSonic M1+ short-throw projector and a white projection screen you can set up in your window (although a cheap white shower curtain works well, too). The animations are top quality, with sound effects and music included. Set this up in your front window, with a fog machine underneath, and you are sure to attract a horde of trick-and-treaters.

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