As voice recognition gets better and better, the future of the smart home looks brighter than ever. When we think of the home of the future, instantly we think of controlling it all with our voices. That future is now a reality. And while voice control and recognition has been around for a while in various iterations, it’s gotten a bit of a bad rep. That’s because by and large, users find voice recognition technology in devices to be frustratingly slow and plagued with errors. The fact remains, however, that voice recognition is more convenient than typing or hitting buttons on a remote control, smart phone or computer.
Recently, Consumer Technology Association’s chief economist, Shawn DuBravac, stated that in 2017, the word error rate in voice recognition technology will have decreased from 23 percent in 2013 to zero. “The next computer interface is voice,” he added. DuBravac also pointed to the increasing focus on hub devices, like Amazon Echo, for vocal computing, with companies at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in January expected to show products offering more capability with devices like these.
Amazon is putting its Alexa voice assistant technology in tons of devices, such as its Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Tap in an effort to take over the smart home with inexpensive electronics. Apple, of course, is big on voice interaction with Siri, and has integrated Siri in to new Apple TVs so that you can search a movie without having to annoyingly type on a keyboard plastered on your TV screen. Apple also has a framework for smart devices called HomeKit, that can be controlled with Siri as well. You can ask Siri to turn an appliance on or off, or set one of your home scenes, for example.
While these types of devices and technology are very mainstream, home automation companies have been using voice control for some time. Now they are using some of these more mainstream technologies in their own products instead of using proprietary ones. One well-known home automation manufacturer just announced integration with Amazon Alexa, Amazon Tap and Amazon Fire TV, providing homeowners with the convenience of whole-home automation through simple and intuitive voice commands that can activate smart home scenes and control individual devices.
In fact, most home automation manufacturers have incorporated voice activation into their products in one way or another, allowing you to speak different, simple commands to control your entertainment such as “Apple TV” or “ESPN.” Say “brighter” and your lights will ramp up instantly.
All of this is great news for the homeowner, who can expect not only more accurate speech recognition technology next year, but voice control integrated into nearly every aspect of his or her smart home technology. This category will continue to improve until it’s so intuitive, it will no longer be a topic of conversation.
Want to control your home by voice? Come in to Bjorn's and experience it today in our very own Smart Automation House inside our store! See just how simple it can be.
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You stream media all the time, but do you really know what that means? In essence, streaming is an alternative to downloading content to a hard drive and storing it there for playback, which can take up a lot of space on your device and take a long time to complete. Simply put, streaming is content—like TV shows and music—that isn’t stored on your device but that is constantly received and presented to you while being delivered by the provider. This means you don’t have to wait for a movie to download before you watch it nor do you have to store it on your set-top box, iPhone or other device. You can playback while subsequent data is being received.
So take this typical scenario. You’ve got your daughter streaming Netflix in the bedroom, your son playing online games in the garage and your wife listening to Pandora on Sonos while you stream Game of Thrones on your iPhone from the treadmill. The unwelcome buffering wheel can bring all this fun to a screeching halt. That’s because with all this great streaming content comes a heck of a lot of data flowing around the home—especially if you want to enjoy high-definition content. The more content streamed, the more the WiFi in your home will clog up.
What you may not know, however, is that there are solutions. Oh yes, you can heal thy streaming snafus with a more robust home network, preferably one installed (and even maintained) by a professional. For large homes, we can install multiple wireless access points to ensure continuous, even coverage across the house. In fact, for homes with a lot of streaming entertainment demands, we often install enterprise-grade routers and other products that go well beyond what your local Internet service provider will typically install. As an added bonus, a lot of home entertainment and networking gear can be maintained remotely. Instead of us coming out to your home on Super Bowl Sunday to fix something, more than likely, we can troubleshoot it over the internet, saving you time and money while adding convenience.
Wondering where to stream music and movies from? There are the old standbys for video like NetFlix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV and Hulu, but then you also have more niche services like Mubi—which has more obscure movies—along with cable network channels that are getting into the streaming game, including HBO Now, CBS All Access and Showtime. Free content abounds online as well with providers like YouTube, Crackle, Funny or Die and others.
For the music lover, you can stream Spotify and Pandora free, sign up for their commercial-free and more feature-rich paid services, or go the iTunes or Google Play route. We are also digging the new Tidal high-resolution streaming service, the first of its kind.
Whatever content you fancy, content abounds. You just want to make sure you can play it. Call or come in today and we’ll get you on the road to smooth streaming for what is going to be a content-rich 2016