The hottest technology from CEDIA 2016 moving into CES 2017 has been voice control. Believe me … it is only going to get better.
Amazon with Alexa, Google with Google Home and now even Microsoft hopping in with voice control is a sure sign that using one’s voice to control the home is a feature that is hot and here to stay.
The surest sign of this is Amazon licensing out its voice technology to PlayFi, supporting brands which include the likes of Polk and Definitive Technologies. These brands will now have Alexa natively built in, and this will continue to amount to hundreds of great audio devices supporting voice control with Alexa. This change of guard for home control is not only a way to ease common tasks in the home, but it also makes it fun and interactive.
When I walk into my home I simply say, “Alexa, turn on Joe’s home.” This turns on my lights, HVAC, closes the garage door, sets my music and switches on my TV to ESPN with the volume muted. Simple, elegant, and easy … even when my arms are full of groceries.
Voice gives a personal touch never before seen in home control. Although we are used to pressing buttons to get what we want in our homes, we are instinctually more comfortable with vocalizing a statement of what we want. While habitually different, this interaction is far more natural.
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It is important for the builder, homeowner and home technology professional to learn the ways in which the homeowner will live in the home. Voice scenes cater to individual taste. As such, they should be a reflection of how owners live, not how programmers program.
The battle of the brands continues as Amazon, Google and even more “late bloomers” look for devices that natively tie in with the home’s control system of choice. Control4, for example, works with both Amazon Alexa Natively and Google Home with ChowMain Software’s IFTTT un-certified driver so there are options available based on personal taste.
Voice control with these devices is the future now. While Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, has been working on voice control with artificial intelligence, the interactions of voice and action are already upon us. It is something every builder and designer must pay attention to and consider using in their homes.
If names like Amazon, Google and Facebook are pushing this technology, you had better believe every one of your customers is aware and wants it.
Voice control isn’t only for luxury homes, it is even applicable to the commercial market. Ease-of-control in the commercial environment can bring down the task time to start the day in any establishment.
View a video of my recent interaction with Amazon Alexa HERE
At the end of the day, voice control is here to stay. It is one of the most interesting and useful technologies to enter the market in years. Don’t lose your audience by being unaware and uneducated on the hottest thing to hit the TecHome market in the last decade.
JWhitaker Designs, CEDIA Board of Directors, Patented Product Designer
With almost 20 years of experience in home systems installation and product development, Joe Whitaker currently is principal of the integration and consultation firm JWhitaker Designs. He was elected to the CEDIA board of directors in 2013 and is considered one of the foremost authorities on home automation technologies. Joe has been covering smart home technology for publications for over 10 years.