Add Alexa to your smart home for the ultimate in home automation

The Amazon Echo has finally reached New Zealand shores, bringing with it the next step in home automation - voice control.

After becoming a huge success in the United States where it was first launched, Amazon Echo is now available in New Zealand, opening unlimited possibilities for the smart home user.

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What is the Amazon Echo?

The Echo is basically a connection to the internet through your voice instead of typing on a computer or phone. This little device sits in the corner of the room and connects to your Wi-fi, waiting for you to ask a question.

The Echo is hands-free, always ready and fast. By using far-field voice recognition with an array of seven microphones, your commands can always be heard, even using advanced beam-forming technology to suppress background noise such as music playing or even other people talking.

Meet Alexa

Alexa is the brain of the Echo. She’s the little voice that talks back to you, giving you any information you asked for. Just ask and she’ll answer questions, play music, check the weather, send emails, tell you a joke, and much more.

For the New Zealand launch, Alexa has been specially updated for the Kiwi market. She’s been updated with local knowledge and skills, including New Zealand sports teams, place names and even a little bit of Te Reo Māori!

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What Alexa can do in a smart home

With Alexa incorporated into a smart home, you can interact with your home quickly and easily, completely hands-free.

With Alexa, you can have different pre-set conditions around your home, any of which can be activated with a simple voice command. For example, saying “Alexa, I’m home!” when you arrive back from work can turn on the lights and the heating, or “Alexa, time for a movie” will dim the lights, turn on the TV, and automatically bring up Netflix.

You can create your own world, with whatever phrases and voice commands you wish, carrying out whatever tasks you want.

If you’re cooking, for example, ask Alexa for a recipe, and have her explain the cooking method to you as you’re preparing your meal. Or when dinner is ready, simply tell Alexa and she’ll let everyone in the house know to come to the table.

Your only limit is your imagination, and Alexa can help you with pretty much anything.

Google Home

Amazon’s Echo isn’t the only device on the market which allows you to integrate your smart home with voice commands.

Google Home is Google’s answer to the Echo, with Google Assistant the equivalent to Alexa.

There are several advantages to Google’s device over Amazon’s, the most obvious being the internet search function. Google has, well, Google, but Alexa uses… (shudder) Bing. Google Home also has access to Google Maps, meaning you can ask for directions and traffic reports from anywhere.

Google is also miles ahead when it comes to language processing algorithms, meaning that you can almost have a proper conversation with Google, whereas Alexa requires you to phrase things in a particular way for her to understand you, and the language you have to use is not always natural.

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Works seamlessly with Control 4

Both the Amazon Echo and Google Home work seamlessly with Control4, our choice when it comes to smart home automation.

The Control4 system is simply the best in the world, integrating lighting, visual, audio, heating and security in your home.

Add to that Alexa and you’ve got the home of the future, making everyday life easier, more secure and comfortable for you and your family.

If you would like to know more about home automation, or how to make your smart home hands-free, then contact us today. Our friendly and experienced staff will be happy to explain your options and help with advice on the latest devices.

Mike Morgan