Optimizing a Smart Home for Voice Control Using Josh

Interoperability is a driving factor as consumers continuously buy more connected devices adding to their personal ecosystem of technology. At Josh.ai, our goal is to enable interconnectivity between all devices for a seamless user experience. To make this possible, our platform is designed to work natively with popular brands including everything from Lutron to Sony, in addition to having integrations with traditional control systems such as Crestron and Control4.

Josh is designed to easily incorporate voice control into your home leveraging the technology you already have installed. You should not need to use different apps to control your thermostats, lights and TVs independently. It should be as simple as giving one command without picking up a single device.

Lower the temperature to 68 degrees, dim the lights 20% and watch Stranger Things Season 2, Episode 4.

Josh leverages other manufacturer’s products to optimize natural voice control to deliver an excellent customer experience. A custom integrator is required to set-up a Josh system, but the process is quick and easy with no hard-coded programing.

1. Platform Agnostic

Before getting Josh setup, we recommend having your other smart home system(s) programmed. It is important to design your home with connected devices that Josh works natively with. You can find the complete list here.

2. Naming Convention

It is helpful when initially labeling rooms and devices to use a naming scheme that is optimized for voice control. This means choosing names that you would actually use if you were asking a friend to turn on/off the device. It is important that each device has a unique name to avoid conflict. If Josh pulls in duplicate device names, the system will automatically add numbers to each device, i.e. “Sconces 2” and “Sconces 3.” This is unnatural for voice control, as it is not intuitive to remember “which number are those overhead sconces?”

3. Control Systems

Both a Crestron module and a Control4 driver are available to integrate Josh as the AI layer over their reliable hardware. If you already have either system, Josh will automatically bring in the lights and shades for natural commands, such as “dim the lights 20% in the kitchen and close the shades halfway everywhere.” For anything else that you want to voice control, you can create a custom macro that Josh will bring in as a scene. For these scenes, you can create as many verbal triggers as you want.

4. Smart Switches

Add voice control to any “non-smart” device by utilizing a smart switch, such as Wemo or TPLink. This can be fun to hook up to devices, such as illuminated signs or fish tanks.

5. Speaker Location

You want to put a Micro where people are going to be, and away from interference. For example, do not place a Micro right next to a TV or speaker as that will interfere with the microphones. We recommended having Micro next to a bed, couch, or entryway where people often reside. This guarantees the best path for audio. It’s often smart to put a Micro (if wall mounted) near the main light switch in a room or thermostats as those are often placed in convenient to access locations.

We find, when convenient, it’s best to place a Micro near entrances/exits so you can easily say “I’m home,” “Turn on the lights,” “I’m leaving,” or any number of commands when first arriving or leaving. For example, it’s easy to tell Josh “turn off the music and open the garage” as you leave the house.

6. Add Aliases

With Josh you can add unlimited nicknames to each room and device, so you do not have to remember if you named a room the Living Room, Family Room, or Den.

7. Word Patching

It is helpful to add variations of unique words that are commonly misheard. The Josh team’s best practice is to say the word about five times and see how the audio file translates to a text string, then add those variations as aliases.

8. Set-Up Scenes

Scenes are quick and easy to create with Josh. They are helpful for when you want to control multiple devices simultaneously, most commonly used for events like “bedtime” or “movie time.” You can add an unlimited number of vocal triggers to activate a scene.

9. AV Control

We recommend Sony XBR TVs and Rokus for streaming your favorite shows. This gives you the ability to say commands like, “Watch The Office Season 5 Episode 1” or “Mute the TV.” If you also have Crestron or Control4, you can add scenes for specific tv channels like “Watch ESPN.” Learn more here.

10. Fine-Tuning

As you start living with your Josh system, you will notice that you actually refer to the “couch lights” as the “sofa lights” or that you want to be able to trigger your morning scene by saying “all on.” You can easily add more aliases to rooms and devices the more you use Josh.

What are some Josh voice commands I can give?

Below are some additional examples of voice commands you can give to Josh to control your home. While you can certainly use the same commands in your own home, we encourage you to speak to Josh in whatever way is natural to you. Over time, your Josh system will become fine-tuned to your way of speaking. You’ll find that voice control — once something that was considered a novelty — will actually be something you can’t live without.

  1. HVAC — “I’m Cold
  2. Entertainment — “Watch Stranger Things Season 2 Episode 1
  3. Music — “Listen to Closer by the Chainsmokers in the Kitchen and Living Room” “Make it louder
  4. Environment — “Open the shades halfway and dim the lights 20%
  5. Security — “Show me the driveway camera

This article was written by Bridget, who is part of the business development team focusing on integrator relations and marketing. Originally from Massachusetts, she worked at Savant for many years before moving to Denver to work for a large integrator, Xssentials. Outside of work Bridget likes to hike, travel, and check out new restaurants.

Josh.ai is an artificial intelligence agent for your home. If you’re interested in learning more, visit us at https://josh.ai.

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