Seamless smart homes are all about communication and it takes a variety of forms. While devices talk to each there via bluetooth, voice activators or wireless, residents have ultimate control through apps, pre-programmed commands and smartphone access.
Increasingly, however, control of the smart home is as simple as voice command, with a whole array of voice activators like Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomeKit on the market and available to assist.
Here’s a lowdown on voice activation and how the technology works.
Computers have been able to recognise speech since the 1950s but it wasn’t until about 2010 that the conversation gained fluency and intuition. This was when big names like Google and Apple made huge strides, with voice recognition apps like Siri and Google Voice Search.
Heralding a new era of personalised communication with computers, this software surpassed the 80% accuracy level of previous years, allowing users to accurately seek and find information.
But still the technology was confined to discussions with your laptop until about 2015, when voice activators for the smart home hit the mainstream with the arrival of major players like Apple HomeKit, Amazon Echo and Google Home.
In a nutshell, voice activators are tiny wireless devices that can be positioned around the smart home to perform a series of tasks via voice command. At the moment the field is dominated by the big brands of Apple with HomeKit, Amazon and Echo, and Google with Home, but there are further players in this space outside the major names.
It’s important to note HomeKit, Echo and Home are the hardware which then accesses virtual assistance/artificial intelligence software. These virtual assistants perform the task of speech recognition and then activate a user’s commands, and there are some familiar names within this group.
Just as you use Siri on your iPhone or iPad, and Google on your smartphone or laptop, these ladies and their peers are also responsible for understanding you in the voice controlled home.
So for example if you’re running Apple HomeKit, Siri is your girl, on Amazon Echo it’s Alexa, with Google Home, it’s the Google Assistant. Setting them into action is most often as simple as saying their name. A number of the other voice activators also utilise these specific AI assistants, while some have their own brand helpers.
Most voice activators are set to work with a trigger phrase that usually incorporates the AI assistant’s name.
And it works a little like this: “Hey Siri, please turn off the lights”. “Hey Google, please lock the front door.” Or “Alexa, please shut the garage.”
The name activates the central smart home device, the AI assistant within it comprehends the speech and then communicates with devices in the home to perform the required task.
The convenience of voice activation in the smart home is far from a passing trend, with a recent ABI Research report noting “voice control will become the bedrock for smart home applications”.
“While Siri and Google Now are well-established smartphone features, it is in the smart home that voice control systems will live out their full potential,” they explain.
“Smart TVs, smart refrigerators, smart plugs, and more will extend the reach and simplicity of managing the smart home environment using voice. With ABI Research forecasting more than 120 million voice-enabled devices to ship annually by 2021, voice control, which combines speech recognition and natural language processing, is quickly becoming the key user interface within the smart home.”
Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.
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