Is Voice Control The Next Big Thing in Home Automation?
Last month Amazon finally launched their ‘Amazon Echo‘ voice control device in the UK. The Echo has been popular in the US for quite a while now and responds to questions asked of it in normal spoken English. At first glance a clever multi-room music device with the ability to select tracks based on your spoken request and do simple internet searches and speak the results. However it has the potential to be so much more than that. Cleverly, Amazon have allowed third-party developers to add extra functionality to the Echo (they refer to it as ‘skills’) which means it can effectively be taught to respond to new spoken commands.
Integrate this with your home automation system and potentially you have the ability to control your home just by talking to your system. Say “Watch BBC1” and your TV and AV amplifier could turn on, select the right channel and adjust your lighting to your preferred TV watching settings. Amazon Echo can’t do all this on its own though, sadly…it can merely convert your spoken command into system commands to send to your home control system. However already Control4 and Crestron have announced that it is possible to control your home technology if you have one of their systems installed; and Savant Pro are also actively working on it.
Yesterday Google announced their equivalent of the Amazon Echo called ‘Google Home‘. Apple are also rumoured to be working on a similar solution of their own which will no doubt use their ‘Siri’ voice control interface…this may be tied to only control devices compatible with their HomeKit platform, we will have to wait and see. Hopefully there will be a convergence of these technologies so you can mix and match which voice input system you want to interface with your chosen home control system…time will tell.
Both Control4 and Crestron had working demos of their Amazon Echo integration at last month’s CEDIA show in Dallas, so hopefully it will be available in the UK soon. With our current control systems you can already put all your remote controls away and use your iPad or smartphone instead to control your home…how long before this too seems an old school way of controlling your technology?
See more videos on how Control4 is integrating with Amazon Echo on our Control4 page.