I like my Amazon Echo, a lot. It performs well as a Bluetooth speaker and the ability to query my Amazon Prime Music playlists and library by voice is fantastic. It gives me my morning Flash News briefings based on news criteria I can customize and can even guess how long my commute will be. So far I’ve used it to settle trivia battles, convert measurements in the kitchen, listen to local radio stations, and set alarms. All with my voice.
But is what I just mentioned merely party tricks? Perhaps, but to me the scope of its future value is set squarely on the automated/connected home. Amazon announced this week that Echo is now compatible with the following WeMo and Phillips Hue devices:
If you have any of those products, you can simply say “Discover my appliances” and any within range will show up in the Amazon Echo app. You can then assign your connected switches or bulbs to different groups which you ask Echo to interact with individually. This would be primarily helpful if you break your groups out into different rooms. Then, you could conceivably place the Echo in a centralized location in your home and switch on lights as needed without touching a thing. Better than The Clapper? Definitely. The following list details voice commands you can use to light your way or interact with your newly-connected devices:
- “Alexa, turn on the hallway light”
- “Alexa, turn on the coffee maker”
- “Alexa, dim the living room lights to 20%”
- “Alexa, turn on the electric blanket”
- “Alexa, turn on the outdoor decorations”
I don’t own any of those devices . . . yet. And you may think I’m crazy, but the moment I received Amazon’s email explaining the new compatibility, I ordered the second-generation Nest thermostat. I’m betting that they will add compatibility by the end of the year. Even if they don’t, I’ve found a hack that will allow me to use my voice to change the temperature.
It has been over a year-and-a-half since Amazon created their Home Automation digital storefront, and new products and reviews have been pouring in ever since. My guess is that they made a concerted effort to analyze user reviews to see where pain points were so that one day they could create a better connected hub. Was the intended purpose of Amazon Echo to control your home? It is hard to say for sure. What I do know is that the future looks primed for a device that can react to your voice rather than through an application interface on your smart phone. Below is the original email:
Are you planning on creating your own home automation system? If so, what functionality are you looking for? Let us know in the comments!