Look, No Hands

This year has seen a fairly big shift in our ongoing smart home project. Our house is now fully voice controlled!

Having stated in 2011 that talking to a computer was too weird and Star Trekky for us, social norms have now shifted and people everywhere are saying ‘Alexa’ (or ‘Hey Google’, or occasionally ‘Cortana’). So it seemed inevitable that we’d move in that direction.

We started with a single Amazon Echo Dot at Christmas, just as a bit of fun. Initially talking to it was a bit odd but we got used to it. Then I linked it to our Google calendar so we could have our day’s meetings read out to us as we got ready in the morning. It was becoming a little more useful.
Nifty alarm clock

Then I worked out how to integrate it with our existing Smart Home system so we could switch lights on and off by speaking. Even more useful.

And we mustn't forget that they are speakers and can play music from Spotify.

We’ve acquired more Echoes. One was bundled with an Amazon Fire TV stick I was buying anyway. One was virtually given away on Black Friday. And then I thought the Echo Spot would made a fun alarm clock. And finally I spotted a third party Echo-lookalike that plugs directly into the shaver socket in the bathroom so now I can listen to Spotify in the shower.

Now we can chat to Alexa wherever we are in the house which means there's no longer any need for remote controls, wall-mounted buttons, or fumbling through phone apps to make things happen.

We just say ‘Alexa, switch on the TV’ or ‘Alexa, arm the alarm’ and it happens.

And the man-machine interface is simplified.