Speak Up! Your House Is Listening!

Who would have thought that the day would come when our house is a better listener than any family member or friend?

With the advent of voice-controlled smart home command centers that’s exactly where we are. So while you might be frustrated with kids who won’t listen, you’ll be pleased to know that the various voice control platforms now available are eager to do as you say.

The voice control devices available from Amazon, Google and Apple offer a simple way to control smart home products with your voice. Lights, thermostats, music players and door locks are some of the devices and services that can be controlled by just speaking a command. And the universe of what can be controlled can be expanded significantly when you pair one of these devices with a smart home hub, such as those offered by SmartThings or Wink. What’s more, each device’s digital assistant – Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri – can provide a wealth of information when asked as long as the answer can be found on the internet. Everything from the day’s weather forecast to a recipe for barbecue pork kebabs is available for the asking!

The Amazon Echo, its smaller sibling the Echo Dot, and Google Home are all smart speakers that connect to your home Wi-Fi and have embedded microphones to pick up voice commands. Apple HomeKit isn’t a device, but an app that runs on your iOS device and allows you to control connected products using Siri voice commands. Later this year, Apple will begin selling its own smart speaker, the HomePod

Not all smart products are compatible with all three systems, so check with the manufacturer for compatibility. That said, they all control a wide range of thermostats, lights, garage door openings, audio/video equipment, ceiling fans, and door locks. 

Yale Real Living smart locks work with Alexa, and HomeKit compatibility will be available soon. When a Yale Z-Wave or ZigBee lock is paired with an Alexa-compatible hub, users can lock the door and check lock status with voice commands such as, “Alexa, lock my front door” or “Alexa, is my back door locked?” For security reasons, the lock cannot be unlocked with voice commands. With a HomeKit enabled lock users can lock and unlock their home using Siri – “Hey Siri, lock the front door” or “Hey Siri, is my front door locked?” What’s more, Siri commands can be used even when you’re away from home if you have an Apple TV (4th gen or later) or an iPad with iOS 10.3 or later set up as a home hub. 

Which of the three major voice control platforms is for you will depend on personal preferences and what compatible devices or services you already have. If you’re an Apple loyalist accustomed to using Siri then HomeKit – and maybe later, HomePod – might be the best choice. But if you’re not an iOS user or already own SmartThings or Wink, the Amazon Alexa route would work well for you. 

Whichever you choose, for better or worse you might find that controlling your home with your voice is oddly comforting.