If you’re the kind of person who loves to get creative with tech, then Halloween is the perfect excuse for some fun, frivolous and maybe even a little self-indulgent smart home projects.
Regardless of whether you want to wow trick-or-treaters or scare them away so you can enjoy all that Halloween candy to yourself, here we share some smart home automation tips, tricks and projects, to help you have a distinctly 21st century Halloween.
1. Get your Ring Doorbell ready for Halloween
If you’ve paired your Ring Doorbell with a Ring Chime, then why not swap the standard Chime notification for something spookier?
Ring has a library of Halloween-themed chimes you can choose from, including screams, howls, and bubbling cauldrons. However, these spooky sounds are created by your Ring Chime, and not the Ring Doorbell, so only people inside your house will hear the spooky sound effect.
To get your Ring Chime in the Halloween spirit:
1. Launch the Ring application on your smartphone or tablet.
2. In the upper-left corner, tap the hamburger menu followed by “Devices.”
3. Tap your Ring Chime device.
4. Tap “Audio Settings.”
5. Tap “Chime Notifications.” You can now choose from the list of available Ring Chimes.
2. Play spooky sounds with Alexa and Google Assistant
Both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa have a range of Halloween-themed sounds that would make the perfect backdrop for any Halloween party or get-together.
If you own a smaller smart speaker, you can pop the speaker inside a plastic pumpkin, under a witch’s hat, or strategically place it in a dark, spiderweb-strewn corner – your guests will have no clue where the creepy sounds are coming from!
If you’re using Alexa, we recommend the Halloween Sounds skill. This skill features a range of classic spooky sound effects, including bubbling cauldrons, zombies, chainsaws, and an eerie, whistling wind.
To enable the Halloween Sounds skill:
1. Open the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.
2. Tap “Devices -> Your Smart Home Skills -> Enable Smart Home Skills.”
3. Search for “Halloween” and select “Halloween Sounds” from the list.
4. Tap “Enable To Use.”
When you’re ready to scare your guests, simply say: “Alexa, open Halloween Sounds.”
If you’re more of a Google fan, then Google Assistant has you covered with an hour-long playlist of spooky sounds and music. Just say “Hey Google, get spooky,” and your Google Home will commence its creepy playlist.
3. Put on a spooky light show with Philips Hue
Do you own some Philip Hue Lights? Why not transform your house into a haunted house?
For my home, I’ve opted to use the Hue Haunted House app. Once you launch this application, it’ll detect any nearby Hue Bridges and guide you through the process of connecting to your bridge.
Once you’re connected, you can choose from a range of spooky themes, including Distressing Dungeon, Creepy Cave, Wicked Witches, and Pirate Ship.
Choose your scene, and Hue will put on a light show. However, what I particularly enjoy about this application is that it provides spooky lighting and sounds.
While the app is running on your smartphone or tablet, it’ll treat you to a seriously spooky and professional soundtrack that corresponds with the flickering Hue lights.
Hue Haunted House’s sound effects are also completely customizable. This application has a series of sliders to customize the backing track for your chosen light show.
4. AtmosFX: Digital decorations to terrify the neighbors
This is one of the more outlandish Halloween projects, but it’s also one of the most effective!
If you happen to have access to a projector, you can purchase a creepy Halloween-themed projection loop, hang a sheet across a door or window, and then beam the eerie scene onto the sheet. Is it over-the-top? Maybe, but you can’t argue with the results!
You’ll need a projector with a decent lumen level, a transparent material to project your video onto, and the scene you want to project. For the latter, I’d highly recommend AtmosFX, with an entire line of creepy Halloween-themed displays.
Some of these scenes are genuinely scary and definitely not child-friendly. If you’re using these scenes for a private party, you may get away with some of the bloodier, more disturbing scenes. However, if you want to share your digital display with the world, I’d recommend erring on the side of caution – you don’t want to give the neighbor children any nightmares!
5. Create a servo-powered pumpkin
Pumpkin-carving is a classic Halloween tradition, so why not give it a high-tech twist?
This is a slightly fiddly, but very fun, project that’s guaranteed to be a major talking point at your Halloween get-together! Credit has to go to 68percentwater for this idea. I particularly love how each eyeball’s movements are determined by a random number generator, which gives the pumpkin a very twitchy and unnerving appearance.
To create this eyeball pumpkin, you’ll need:
- Micro servo motors
- Wooden dowels
- Paper clips
- Cocktail sticks
- 1″ PVC pipe couplings or PVC pipe cut to size
- Plastic eyeballs
- Glue gun
- Arduino-compatible project board. I’m using NodeMCU.
- A pumpkin, either real or synthetic
Note: Since it can take a while to assemble the pumpkin, I’d recommend synthetic, as this will give you plenty of time to enjoy the finished product. If you do use a real pumpkin, the flesh and juices can damage your electronic components, so make sure to protect them using a plastic bag or case.
Once you’ve assembled your tools, you’re ready to create your servo-powered eyeballs! For each eyeball, you’ll need to:
1. Poke a cocktail stick through the middle of the eyeball.
2. Place the eyeball on the outside of the PVC pipe coupling, making sure the eyeball is looking outward.
3. Take your hot glue gun and secure the eyeball to the outside of the PVC pipe coupling.
4. Cut 1″ of the wooden dowel and drill a small hole into the end of the dowel.
5. Secure the dowel to the back of the eyeball using your glue gun.
6. Open the paperclip so that you have a straight wire.
7. Connect the wooden dowel to the plastic servo arm using the paperclip.
8. Use hot glue to mount the servo to the outside of the PVC pipe coupling.
You now need to repeat these steps, for each of the eyeballs.
The next step is wiring up the electronics. For this, you can use any Arduino-compatible project board.
Your servos will each have a power, ground, and data pin. You’ll need to connect each servo data pin to a GPIO pin on your project board, as this will allow your code to control the eyeball’s position.
The specifics of the wiring will vary, depending on your project board.
Once you’re set up, you can access the Arduino IDE in your web browser. The Arduino IDE is beyond the scope of this tutorial, but you’ll find all the information you need to get started in the official Arduino documentation.
Here’s the code I used for my project:
When you’re finished, attach your assembly to a power source and watch your servos go!
Now comes the fiddly bit! You’ll need to place each servo assembly inside your pumpkin and fix it into place. I found that a combination of hot glue and screws did the trick.
Congratulations, you’ve created your very own, servo-powered pumpkin!
Do you have any tips for bringing the spooky season into the 21st century? If you are not keen on doing up your house, you can also use these apps to freak out your friends on Halloween.