Controlling your home appliances with you voice

You know a particular technology is fast approaching mainstream when every manufacturer seems to be developing add-ons to make their products work with it.

From Samsung’s SmartThings to August Smart Home Locks, 3rd-party developed skills are voice experiences that add to the capabilities of any Alexa-enabled device (such as the Echo). For example “Alexa, set the Living Room lights to warm white” or “Alexa, lock the front door.” These skills are available for free download. Skills are continuously being added to increase the capabilities available to the controlled lock on a door

smart controlled lighting in a living room

he Amazon Echo is a smart speaker developed by Amazon. It is tall cylinder speaker with a built-in microphone. The device connects to the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa, which answers to the name “Alexa”. The device is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, and other real-time information
However, it can also control many smart devices using itself as a home automation hub.
The videos below give an example of using your voice with smart home products.

The good: As far as price goes, the Amazon Echo comes in various forms, the
Amazon Echo Dot costs £44.99 which seems affordable. All the Amazon skills that add to the capabilities of any Alexa-enabled device are free.

The not so good: Requires internet connection to work. If your internet goes down then your ability to control the devices around you also does too.

The verdict: A good way to dip your toe in the Internet of Things waters, more capabilities on the way.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is a voice command device from Amazon

Amazon Echo is a voice command device from with functions including question answering, playing music and controlling smart devices.  It has got mixed reviews from gadget reviewers such as Gizmodo and CNET but overall it’s quite good.  For someone who requires an always on, handfree device to look up information, play their favourite music or control lights this could be a solution.

The device contains a microphone array that responds to the name “Alexa”.  It works in a similar way to other voice assistants such as Siri, Google Now or Cortana and has good voice recognition according to the reviewers.  Unfortunately the Amazon Echo can’t control Infra-Red devices yet, however recently, it is now able to control a number of Wink-compatible lighting products which brings it now into the Smart homes area.