Do you talk to your Smart Home? That is the key question in deciding whether your home is really Smart. If you do not, perhaps you are missing out on some convenient things your home could be doing for you.
There is a tsunami of activity by the three major players in voice activation, Google, Apple and Amazon. Each is trying to outdo the others in developing systems that are more intelligent. That Intelligence may be Artificial but the aim is to develop systems that are user-friendly and effective. At the moment, the Amazon Echo has the largest number of compatible devices and partners and some believe it is the best established. Both Google and Apple do not intend to be left behind in this race.
The Promise of Voice-controlled Smart Home Systems
The beauty of the voice as the controller is that for simple tasks it is a relatively straightforward data input device. Greater precision is possible with input devices using screens, keyboards and mice. However ensuring that these signals are handled correctly by all types of input devices (Desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones) can be challenging. Sound also travels through the air and so can be picked up at a distance.
We are all accustomed to asking others to do things for us. It is therefore a very natural way of ensuring your Smart Home is performing as it should. Here are just some of the things you can do:
- See what your security camera sees
- Lock your front door
- Talk to visitors ringing your doorbell Answer your door
- Turn on individual light outlets
- Control your microwave
- Clean your house
Problems With Voice Controlled Smart Home Systems
Having an Artificial Intelligence trying to do your bidding in your Smart Home sounds a little menacing. The following Stephen Colbert video suggests some of the problems that might be encountered.
In fact the major problem he suggests is no longer a problem. You can train Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri so that they only respond to voices they have been trained to recognize.
What is more of a problem is that your smart assistant may misinterpret what you are saying. The majors are all working to improve the performance quality of their systems and this should be less of a problem over time.
Getting your smart assistant to do exactly what you want may require a little effort. However it is time well spent once it is performing as you desire.
Can Google Assistant and Siri Live Together
One problem that comes up is in homes where some are iPhone users and some are Android users. This is not always a problem. Where it is, there are apps that can be connected to more than one voice control system to receive voice commands and control the home systems and devices.
The Future of Voice Controlled Smart Home Systems
All three providers of voice control technology, Amazon, Apple and Google, see the business potential of this explosively growing sector. Each is working to ensure their own technology will hopefully surpass the others in performance and user acceptance. Each embodies an Artificial Intelligence system that is being improved on the basis of user feedback. Such feedback does not require human intervention but can be based on how real people interact with their smart assistants.
You can be sure that, if there is a real need that could be met by voice controlled technology, then someone somewhere is now working on how to meet that need.
Combining Voice Control With Other Input Methods
Although voice control is in many ways the easiest technology to implement, more user friendly and precise methods can be used when touch screens or keyboards provide an easier way of interacting with the system. Using a mini tablet to allow a houseguest or a young child to access a subset of all the possible controls is one example.
In other cases, using a screen with an on-screen keyboard gives a very much faster way to change the settings of a particular house system. Amazon has the Echo Show and the Echo Spot. Google now has the Google Home Hub.
If you are working in the kitchen, what could be better than a screen displaying your recipe combined with an ability to calculate the amount of ingredients if you so wish. You can do that with either the Amazon Echo Show or the Google Home Hub. If a smaller screen is sufficient, for example to see who is at the door, then an Amazon Echo Spot will work just fine.
Further reading on this topic
A great deal is being written on this topic and the following articles are just a selection of what you will find.