Voice Control in the Home: Where Does it Belong?

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Here at Josh.ai, we are a big believer in the intuitive interface for home control. Although voice control is a big part of that interface, control should never be limited to one form of interaction or the other. A complete natural home automation experience will consist of a variety of interfaces working together.

Voice control is the next digital frontier, with companies of all sizes building voice functionality into their products. For many of these products, while it may sound like a cool thing, having voice control capability may not necessarily make sense. Just because you can build voice functionality into a connected device, does that mean you actually should?

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Think about what you do in a normal day. You turn your lights on, cook a meal, lock your door, change the TV channel, set your thermostat, etc. Is it easier to use voice control for all of these actions, or is it easier to do it the old fashioned way?

Have you ever tried turning your lights off using your phone? Chances are now you just go and flip the switch instead of going 6+ steps just to get to the right part of the app. Would voice control make this easier for you?

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Instead of getting up to turn the lights on in the morning, you could tell your home assistant to turn on the lights. Or you could have your assistant turn off the lights in certain rooms when you leave. It’s hard to tell if this would be more helpful than just going up to the switch and flipping it on or off.

Setting your thermostat, at least when I was growing up, was set once, and only got changed once the season changed. If it was summer, you didn’t need extra heat in your house, and if it was winter, you didn’t want to be pumping A/C throughout the rooms. Today’s homeowner wants to adjust the temperature throughout the day to optimize comfort.

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The Ecobee thermostat lets you control your temp from anywhere (photo credit)

Being able to tell your thermostat to increase the temperature 5 degrees on a chilly night is a much more appealing prospect than ripping your covers off, exposing yourself to the frigid air, walking down the hall to the thermostat, and after changing the temperature, waiting 15 minutes until your house actually changes temperature. It’s not too hard to imagine the usefulness of voice automation here.

Let’s try a harder one. If you have a smart oven in your house, maybe you want to set it to 350 degrees to make a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies. Just like the lights example, you likely would be better served to just go to your oven and set the temperature manually.

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Where this question gets interesting is this: what if you could say “I’m making cookies tonight,” and your oven set itself to the proper temperature based on a previous recipe? If my oven could do that, I’d blow my entire life savings on one! All kidding aside, that would be a very useful thing that a voice command would be able to do.

As we can see, the more complicated the task you are trying to accomplish, the more useful a simple voice command becomes. While it may not make sense to control each individual light all the time with voice, being able to dim the lights, play music, and adjust the temperature while preparing to host a house party can be very useful. This is where a central control system, such as Josh.ai, is required to tie all the technology in the house together, and deliver that true intuitive experience.

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The Josh.ai home automation system

Whether you should integrate voice control into your house has now become an outdated question. The new question is, “What systems should you use with voice automation, and which systems are just simpler using switches or remote controls?” Considering the first full-time voice assistant, Siri, was born in 2011, the road-map for all assistants isn’t totally clear. One thing is abundantly clear looking at the voice technology landscape: the sky is the limit.

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This post was written by Reiner at Josh.ai, where he focuses on business development. Currently finishing his senior year at The University of Southern California with a major in Business Administration, Reiner can be found playing water polo for the men’s club team or skateboarding around USC and downtown Santa Monica.

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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