While voice-assistants have been making a big splash in our personal lives, a recent study by VoiceLabs revealed that 30% of respondents noted smart home devices as their primary reason(s) for investing in an Amazon Echo or Google Home. Though, admittedly, it can be a little overwhelming to transition from the more traditional keyboard-and-mouse combo to simply asking your phone to add apples and dish soap to your shopping list, mainstream speech recognition technology has been in the works for a while.
This next-generation ‘conversation’ technology offers consumers a way out of having to use the clunky remote control interface. As such, allowing users to speak and interact with their electronics as they would with another human being adds to the seamlessness of usability and decreases the barrier to entry for tech products.
Outside of speech recognition in industries, in-car speech systems as well as the leading digital-assistants that we all know and love (namely, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri), engineers are also hard at work creating voice-controlled household appliances, educational toys, security devices, alarm systems, and more. These devices are powered by and integrate with the likes of Alexa and Siri, allowing users to seamlessly control different aspects of their smart homes.
Vocca Pro Light
Everyone understands the frustration that comes from realizing you forgot to turn off your lights after you already tucked yourself into the warm embrace of your bed. Now, that frustration will simply be an unwanted memory from your past. With Vocca Pro Light, you can turn the lights on and off with the sound of your voice; no need to fiddle with your smartphone; no need to violently clap your hands or wave them emphatically.
The Vocca Pro comes as an adapter that you can screw into any light socket. Use its sister smartphone app to program up to five different phrases or commands you want – in any language you want. The best part is that after you program your commands, you can delete the app! It’s as simple as it is affordable. Vocca Pro doesn’t require expensive software and there is no installation besides physically twisting it into the socket. The features offered by this device are not only convenient, but could also make for creative prank ideas. Just think about it for a second…
Not one to let startups steal its thunder, long-time thermostat maker, Honeywell, created its very own take on the Nest concept. It’s Lyric thermostats in particular comes in at a whopping $100 less than its competitor, contains improved geofencing performance, custom Home and Away settings, and is compatible with both Alexa and Siri. The bottom line is: Honeywell thermostats are ideally suited for your smart home or workplace.
Haiku Home Ceiling Fans
Now, you can control your home ceiling fans without having to flick a switch or flail your arms around trying to grab hold of the dangling string-switches. With its unrivaled engineering and efficiency, the Haiku fan has won more than 75 international design and technology awards. Not to mention, the company behind these smart fans are rather fantastically dubbed, ‘Big Ass Fans’.
Guess what? There’s a new device on the market that can assist you when you have your hands full and can’t pull out Google Maps, or, if your bag is actually a black hole in disguise and you lose everything you put inside it. Enter the Moto Hint: a Bluetooth earbud engineered to react to your voice while drowning out background noise. Now, you can get directions, weather updates, and make calls directly from an earbud. It comes in different color options to fit any personality and comes in different fit options for your comfort. So, all you have to worry about now is looking like you’re talking to yourself. But, I’m sure the convenience of Moto Hint will far surpass the awkwardness of all that.
Anova Precision Cooker
Google Home can help you cook up a storm and achieve “edge-to-edge perfection” with its partnership with Anova’s Precision Cooker. More often than not, when you’re in the kitchen your hands are full or otherwise occupied, so voice-control can be a huge help. The precision cooker helps you learn the ways of “sous vide,” a cooking technique that makes it super simple to achieve professional-quality results at home; utilizing precise temperature control to deliver super-juicy, flavor-packed results, every time. Users are able to raise and lower the temperature, see how much time is left on the timer, ask how long you’ve been cooking and much more. Needless to say, you’ll find yourself calm and collected after cooking a meal (instead of the much more common alternative).
Fitness watches can do a lot, but fitness glasses are setting a new pace! Brought to you by Oakley, Radar Pace are sports eyewear with built in earbuds, specifically designed for athletes. Radar Pace eyewear is a voice activated coaching system that doubles as a phone and fitness tracker. Need to make a phone call? No problem. Radar Pace is hands free and 100% voice activated so you can keep training while you keep up with your friends. Want to know your heart rate? Just ask. Need a new training plan to meet your accelerated training goals? Radar Pace has got you covered. It looks like Fitbit has got some competition.
Netgear Arlo Pro
Netgear’s Arlo Pro is at the very top when it comes to Alexa-integrated smart outdoor security cameras. The wireless camera unit streams at 1080 HD and is weatherproof – three features you’ll be hard pressed to find with other security cameras. Not to mention its integration with Alexa and Google Home. Whereas its competitors (such as Nest Cam Outdoor) charges hundreds of dollars per year for its Nest Aware subscription services (software and cloud backup features), the Arlo Pro does all that for free. With exceptionally reliable connection thanks to a base station which plugs directly into your router, you can rest assured that these cameras will stay on and clear.
Jibo is one smart robot that takes AI to the next level; with a truly interactive experience. With the motto, “He’s wired differently”, you can see that he isn’t just another smart device. He has a personality that includes a sense of humor and ability to not only be social, but also lead a conversation. His capabilities involve telling immersive bedtime stories, MC’ing family games and more. The best part of Jibo? He learns through his experiences; much like a human does! He learns to recognize faces and voices and even has his own set of mannerisms to help convey emotion. Bonus: he’s adorable.
Finally, the age-old tradition of grocery shopping has been optimized and ‘technologified’. Enter Hiku, a shopping-helper button and huge time saver. Hiku helps you to make a grocery list but also remembers your past lists and brand preferences so that it takes less and less time to make your list. Once you have your list, Hiku can check inventory at your local Walmart to make sure you can get what you need. Say goodbye to forgetting everything you need to get as soon as you step foot in the grocery store!
Recently, Amazon started a campaign to fund third party developers who want to make their devices compatible with the Amazon Echo. It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. Such that, the third party developers get funding, access to all of Amazon’s clientele who have already bought – and who already love – the Amazon Echo, and they enjoy the top-notch voice recognition software Alexa is run on. To add, Amazon gets to expand the capabilities of its Echo. Finally, the consumers get an improved, more optimized and comprehensive experience! Here are just a few:
Nest for example, is a company that is capitalizing on the new voice-technology frontier. “Your smart home shouldn’t be dumb,” the company claims. With a Nest Thermostat, you can utilize Amazon Echo to control the temperature in your home with a simple voice command. Or, pre-order a Nest Hello video doorbell and get a Google Home Mini at no cost when it ships. From alarm systems to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, Nest Protect thinks, speaks, and alerts your devices.
Whirlpool appliances, which include microwaves, washers, refrigerators and more, all connect with your Amazon Echo to include voice-activation, as well as Wi-Fi connectivity. These appliances are filled to the brim with new and exciting features such as “scan-to-cook”, an ingenious idea that helps make cooking even more easy than before. All you have to do is scan the barcode or take a photo of a frozen meal, and the oven will automatically preheat to the right temperature and set a timer for when it is done. Plus, each time you use it, it learns your habits. Do you prefer to take the pizza out at the later end of the recommended time range because you like crispy crusts? Your oven will remember and adjust for the future.
Belkin WeMo Light Switch and Smart Plug
Belkin has innovated light switches and sockets with their WeMo devices. The WeMo Light Switch provides simple on/off control over your lights. Whereas, the WeMo Switch is a smart plug, which allows users to toggle plug-in appliances with a smartphone app as well as Alexa integration. Unlike competing switches that use different wireless protocols, Belkin’s technology works over WiFi, making it easy to connect to Alexa or Google Home without the need to purchase a separate device hub.
Goodbye plushies and stuffed animals from our past; hello, Talkies. Toymail Talkies are screenless message delivery toys. They look like stuffed animals, but can transfer real voice messages from Talkie-to-Talkie, or even to a smartphone. It’s a great loophole to avoid giving your child a phone, but allows parents to still keep in touch with them while at work. Talkies are set up via an app; parents can add approved contacts to the list of people who are able to send messages to their kids. To add, they come with various “skins” that can be removed for washing or swapping out, making them totally customizable and totally adorable.
GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub
GreenIQ’s Smart Garden Hub is a WiFi-enabled sprinkler controller which allows you to connect to plant sensors and weather stations to help you better manage your garden. In addition, users can control sprinkler zones and manage weather delays. Not only does this make it extremely easy for you to shut off your sprinklers if there’s a sudden thunderstorm, but it ultimately allows you to start saving water. With its Alexa integration, you won’t even need to pull out your mobile app; she’ll give you control over your sprinkler system, control of your outdoor lighting, and information about water consumption.
If you thought landlines were a thing of the past, you were sorely mistaken. In perhaps one of the most innovative Alexa integrations out there, Ooma Telo allows you to place phone calls with Alexa via their internet-connected landline phone. Dubbed “a revolutionary device that frees you from expensive home phone fills forever,” the Ooma Telo places calls over the internet and as such, offers nationwide calling for free.
Garageio is a small, WiFi-enabled device that you can connect to (up to) three garage doors, allowing users to remotely open and close them from your phone. Named the “smartest garage door opener yet,” Garageio can integrate with Amazon Echo devices (so users can forgo using the smartphone app altogether) as well as IFTTT (the app that builds triggers between normally unconnected apps and devices). Needless to say, it’s a pretty solid buy.
Pet hair, crumbs and daily dust are always building up, so keeping your home clean can feel like a never-ending task. With iRobot’s Roomba family of vacuuming robots, you no longer have to worry about it. Combining a powerful cleaning system with intelligent sensors, the Roomba robots move through your home while always adapting to the surroundings around it. Not only does it sweep all the hard-to-get corners and along walls, but it can dodge and weave through obstacles like pesky chair legs without issue. Now, the Roomba is even compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you have hands-free control over your friendly house-robot.
Why Voice Activated Devices Matter
One of the main benefits of all these voice-activated devices is, simply put, to make our lives easier. No longer do you have to worry about vacuuming on a regular basis, no longer do you have to guesstimate the perfect juicy-ness of your steak, and no longer do you have to unplug appliances from wall sockets. Where once you would just go to work and leave your home unattended (simply going on blind faith that the mailman wouldn’t break into your house), now you can access a fleet of security devices at any moment of the day via Alexa or Siri. But, are they in fact making us more lazy? Will we one day find ourselves confined to WALLE-esque hover-chairs? Let us know in the comments below!
And, if you have any voice-activated devices on your favorites-list – but not on our list – give us a shout! We’ll be more than happy to add it in.