Alexa, can you finish my blog post?

19 Jun


Connecting the home is nothing new, its been possible through services such as Apple’s HomeKit for a long time, but the market is finally embracing it head on and we should be prepared for smarter homes going into the second half of 2017 and even more so in 2018.

We are almost half way through 2017, and for the first time I am finding myself pondering over getting a ‘smart speaker’.

It is a strange realisation that I thought I wouldn’t be having until a few more years down the line at least. I have never used Siri on my phone, and smart speakers are essentially just a box that has a virtual assistant built into a speaker, so whats changed?

The Amazon Echo range came out late last year in the UK, very shortly followed by Google Home, and at the time they never really caught my attention. Virtual assistants just seemed to be too far off being useful to your average consumer, despite tech companies pushing ever more intelligent AI on us with each phone update.

Fast forward to now and after seeing one in action and how easy it is to change a track or turn up the volume on Spotify, my interest has peaked. That combined with the increasingly affordable Smart LED bulbs available (such as this), have made it a little more useful.

Having a smartly driven home is something that I think appeals to a lot of people, we have all seen it in the films, but never thought it would become a reality.

Well now, it kinda has. 2016 saw Mark Zuckerberg embark on a challenge to build an AI (Jarvis) that would make his home smarter and more efficient. Jarvis was able to do a number of things, including:

  • automatically open the front door to friends and family who he recognised
  • control the heating and lighting in the house
  • fire a t-shirt from a t-shirt cannon…

Mark has the resources and money to make a smart home a reality right now, and I really don’t think it will be far off before it is more affordable to all of us. The trend has begun and this year will see the start of the snowball which will continue over the coming few years. Imagine a home whereby your heating knows when you are on your way home so automatically turns on ready for you? The technology is there and waiting, it just needs the affordability and widely available integration to make it happen.

Amazon Echo Dot only retails at £49.99 in the UK, and it connects to many services that we already use, such as Spotify, Uber, and our favourite take-away apps. In the coming months we will begin to see its popularity and intelligence advance and force more and more services and hardware to adapt.

There are three main offerings:

  1. Amazon Echo £149.99 (or the Amazon Dot which is £49.99)
  2. Google Home £129
  3. Apple HomePod (not yet priced)

Right now I am not quite sure what I would recommend, as this wasn’t intended to be a comparison of the products, more of a gentle note that smartly connected living areas are no longer a fantasy of the future, there are a product of the now.


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