New homes are being built specifically to interact with smart devices, such as Alexa, Siri and Google.
It’s not just our appliances that are interacting with voice control; whole home systems are available that will control your lights, the temperature, fans, audio volume for the television and home entertainment systems — they’ll even set your alarm for you and give you video of who rang your doorbell. Before you know it, smart home devices will even let the dog out while you’re away.
One of the biggest developments is the new Apple HomeKit. The Apple HomeKit runs on Siri, Apple’s industry-leading AI assistant, which powers iPhones, iPads, iEverything. Homebuilders install the HomeKit and you, as the homeowner, can control any HomeKit-compatible appliance or device in your home simply by telling Siri what you want to do from your iPhone, your iPad or by simply saying, “Hey, Siri.”
The system is tied to Apple TV, so if you’re using Apple TV already, you’re ahead of the game. Apple is working on some upgrades to Apple TV to make it more compatible with the HomeKit, which should be out some time in the fall of 2017. Right now, there are only a few compatible devices on the market, but more are expected within the next few months.
Regardless which system you use, the fact that these voice-command devices are now part of everyone’s home is raising the question — what else can I do with it besides turn my lights on and off? Apparently, there is a lot more to having a smart home than just raising the temperature.
One company, Energy Squad, is working hard to integrate even more functions into smart homes using voice control across all devices. They’ve teamed with homebuilders across the country to add more ways to use Alexa, including using it to point out features in a model home when someone comes to view it.
“We’re including Amazon Alexa in model homes and we have her telling customers about the home features, while also having her control smart home functionality in the home,” says Jon Stovall, founder of Energy Squad, a green tech home solutions provider based in Bethesda, Md.
Energy Squad is also working with other companies to customize commands for use with Alexa, meaning you’ll be able to control more devices than ever before, just by using your voice and doing more things remotely.
But why would you want to use smart home technology? Do you really want to be able to control your home using your voice? In a recent survey by PwC, a network of firms that provide quality in assurance, advisory and tax services, asked consumers how they felt about voice control in the home. Here’s what they found:
- The majority of consumers (81 percent) are familiar with smart home technology.
- One in four U.S. Internet users currently own a smart home device.
- Device use is driven by four main reasons: savings, safety, convenience and control.
- The majority of consumers say they’re excited about the future of smart technology in their home.
- One in four U.S. users of smart home devices say they bought their first device because of convenience, to improve their overall quality of life or to be more productive.
- Fifty-three percent experienced savings on their energy bills using smart home technology.
- Half said they felt safer and had increased security in their homes equipped with smart home technology.
It’s clear that smart home technology and voice-controlled homes are here to stay and are changing the way we connect with our homes. How it will evolve over the coming months and years has unlimited possibilities.
With companies like Energy Squad and manufacturers like Apple, Amazon and Google leading the way, it’s clear that more new homes will include smart home technology as we move into the future.
Laurie Leiker is a published author, business coach and consumer advocate. She spent 10 years as producer and on-air investigator for the Troubleshooter Tom Martino radio show in Denver, Colo., where she helped consumers get back more than $2 million in one year. She also was a technology pioneer, starting her first computer company in 1990, winning the designation “Best Computer Repair Company” in Denver in 1992.