The voice: control your home by having a conversation
It’s 2021 and who wants to physically push a button or flick a switch? Today, it’s all about controlling your home with your voice.
What used to be the work of sci-fi is now an everyday convenience, brought to us by Google, Amazon and Apple, among others. If you haven’t kept pace, almost every appliance and home gadget can be controlled by simply having a conversation with a voice-receptive hub.
The most popular hubs
If you’re familiar with Google, you can opt for a Nest, while Amazon fans can choose the Echo – both are plug-in hubs that use wifi, Bluetooth and a built-in speaker to connect to devices around your home. Apple’s Siri is another option, which can be activated using an iPhone, iPad or via the company’s HomePod smart speaker.
Cheaper than you think
When it comes to cost, the initial outlay has been driven down, thanks to competition – even the newest hubs are priced at less than £250 and entry levels models are available for less than £40. Even cheaper is the Amazon Echo Flex Plug-in Smart Speaker at around £25. It can be plugged into any power socket, bringing hands-free voice command via Alexa to any space in your home.
Tell it like it is
So what can you tell your hub to do? Here are the most common voice commands and functions:-
- Make an announcement
Voice control makes bellowing up the stairs ‘dinner’s ready’ a thing of the past. Voice-controlled hubs let you make ‘announcements’ or ‘broadcasts’ to every room where there is a linked smart device. Simply say ‘Hey Google, wake everyone up’ and your household will get the message via their personal speaker, or you can use your network of connected devices as an intercom to have two-way conversations between rooms. It’s also possible to make hands-free voice calls to almost anyone using a hub.
- Ask questions
Thanks to its speaker and wifi connectivity, you can ask your hub anything and it will search the internet for the answer. You can check the news and weather, ask for a traffic report ahead of a journey, find out the latest sports scores, convert metric measurements into imperial and even establish when your local shops open.
- Run a virtual assistant
If you’re lax about noting down dates and details in a diary or on a calendar, a hub can become your virtual assistant – think of it as an in-house PA who’s always polite and precise. Ask your hub to set timers (very handy when cooking), create daily reminders (perhaps to feed the fish or drink more water) and start a food shopping list for you (add items with your voice as soon as you remember).
- Tell appliances when to start and stop
There are a myriad of appliances, gadgets and white goods that are now manufactured with smart, connected technology as standard. From doorbells and dishwashers, to thermostats and TVs, choose a product that’s compatible with voice control and you’ll soon be saying “Alexa, make me a latte’ or “turn the Nest thermostat up by two degrees’. Home Connect is a great place to discover which brands and appliance models feature smart tech and voice control.
- Light show
The humble light bulb has had an upgrade – check out Lifx and Philips Hue for voice controlled versions. Tell your light bulb to switch on and off, change its colour, dim its brightness and activate its motion sensor, or use an app to activate the light when you’re not at home as an added security measure.
Whatever home tech you opt for, make sure your chosen hub or speaker is voice control-compatible. In addition, always download the latest version of any software required to your smart device (phone or tablet) and, of course, it’s essential to keep your hub plugged in and the power switched on!