Voice-Controlled Assistants

Matthew Torres / June 1, 2019

Not too long ago, it was almost unthinkable to be able to control things using only your voice, whether it’s turning on or off your TV, getting directions on Google, or even ordering food for delivery. I’ll be showing the most popular devices for voice control, how it can benefit you, and some side effects as well.

Controlling Things With Just A Word

Although there are many devices out there that will allow you to control things with just a simple yell, not all of them are created equal. Most require you to bark a phrase, such as “Hey, Alexa!” or “Hey, Google!” to begin processing your voice commands. These commands can be nearly anything you wish, as these devices have become much smarter over time in understanding your words and voice tone. Some examples of phrases include:

“Order a pizza”

“What’s the weather like today?”

“Where’s the nearest store?”

“Take me to my friend’s house”

These are but just a few of the many, many phrases you can use when assigning a task to one of the assistants. Normally, a certain voice level is required for initial activation, but they can detect low-volume voices, as well. Voice-controlled Assistants also have the ability to learn your habits the more you speak.

Choose Your Device

Among the toughest part you’ll face, is which device to use. Though you can use more than one, it’s best to form a sort of “bond” with one, and then pick more as you fully integrate them into your home, and your life. Here are some of the best:

Google Home/Home Mini – With a fantastic AI voice built in, you can expect to get what you need, easily. Google has built one of the best voice assistants out there, that can easily get you what you command, quickly. It features probably the best

voice detection algorithm out there, being that the software can really tell the difference between two different voice levels and detect individual words. Just plug in this small speaker-looking device into a charging adapter, and then into an outlet, and talk away!

You can tell it’s listening and working on a response by the 3 white led dots that appear on top. You can sync so many things, and really integrate your music and video watch playlist with your voice, as well as tell the weather, pick a location to shop or visit, and even quickly find what you need on a website, or even “advice” in real life.

Amazon Alexa – The second most popular voice assistant, it can really sync up with anything you have on the amazon store, and can instantly process commands related to anything site-wide. Want to watch a compatible amazon video? Simply have the other device on (TV, laptop, tablet) with the amazon video app, and speak which movie or TV show you want to see. You could say something along the lines of “Hey, Alexa, let’s watch a movie”, and then watch the most recent or popular movie list pop up on your chose device. Devices along this line include:

Amazon Echo/Echo Dot/Echo Plus – These speakers can provide room-filling sound, as well as play any music playlist synced in your amazon library, or even any other personal playlists that are connected.

Amazon Echo Spot – A smart alarm clock with a bright, vivid LCD display that can show the weather, music playlists, and even other info by using voice commands.

Sonos Beam Soundbar – A sound bar with a wide sound output, having the ability to control volume, playlists, even other Sonos sound bars in your house makes this super-convenient.

Siri – Lastly, Apple’s voice assistant is feature-packed, and it all began on iPhones. With the ability to sync with other apple devices, you can easily view your entire iTunes playlist, or any movies, and even find apps you may need! The following are the devices that work with Siri:

Apple HomePod – Another smart speaker that has the ability to use voice commands to bring up whatever you may need. Though it may not be as robust as other voice assistant devices, if you’re using many other apple devices, then this can give you anything you may need from them, such as apps, music, videos, weather, and even search video.

Keeping It Simple

With voice assistants, you can create all sorts of experiences by interacting using a voice; However, if your other devices in your home are synced with other services, then they may not respond using voice commands. Proper integration is key – you can use a SmartThings device, or even smart hubs to allow devices to connect together in one area, and control them all by connecting the voice-controlled assistants to the device/hub.

Getting Creative

If you know exactly what you want to be controlled in your smart home of things, then you can simply integrate them within the voice assistant software, usually with a simple command (with Google) such as “Sync my devices” would allow a voice command to operate those devices in the way you want.

Here’s a nice idea: If you’re using smart bulbs for lighting, you can create a dance party with music, by using a voice command “Sync my lights with my music” then “play this song” to create a rhythmic light show with your music for a wonderful time!

Smart Voice, Smart Home

It is very convenient to have voice-controlled assistants help you with remembering things, or even making web searches using just your voice. The time spent doing those things by yourself, can be done much quicker using these kinds of devices. Just know that the more smart devices you implement in your home, whether they be voice-controlled assistants, lighting, or even smart outlets, things will get complicated if you don’t find an easy way to track everything in one place. Keep your connected devices synced with your voice-assisted devices, and you’ll be able to throw a light show, or even a party, with just the words “Start the beat mix”!

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