304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Dave Smith/Tech InsiderIf you have an Amazon Echo, chances are you’ve already discovered its music playing ability with streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Amazon Prime Music, which you can control with your voice using the Echo’s smart voice assistant, Alexa.
But then what? Adding to your shopping list? Setting timers? Asking about the weather? Great, but it’s pretty similar to Siri in what it can do, and using your voice to buy things from Amazon isn’t super exciting.
Alexa can do so much more than that, especially for your home.
With the help from smart home devices, like light bulbs, thermostats, and door locks, Alexa becomes your vocal liaison between you and your smart home.
Controlling your smart home devices with your voice is one of those things that you’ll truly “get” once you try it. After you get used to it, getting up and controlling your smart home with panels and switches will seem archaic, and even using apps to control your smart devices will feel outdated.
Check out the devices in your home you can control with your voice and Alexa:
If you already own a smart hub for your smart home, it could be compatible with Amazon’s Echo and Alexa.
Many smart home devices normally connect to a central hub device that lets you control what they do with an app or website.
Some of the biggest names in smart home hubs are compatible with Alexa in Amazon’s Echo, which means you can control any device connected those hubs with your voice. Those names include:
– Samsung SmartThings
– Securifi Almond
You don’t need to rewire your home to control your lights by voice with Alexa. You simply need to buy smart LED bulbs that can connect to WiFi or a smart hub that’s compatible with Amazon’s Echo.
With Alexa and your voice, you can turn the bulbs on or off. If your smart bulbs are dimmable, you can also use your voice to set their brightness, and even change their color if the bulbs you bought supports colors!
You can find a bunch of smart lightbulbs that will pair with Amazon’s Echo and Alexa here. (Note: Some of the smart bulbs can work directly with Alexa, and others need a smart home hub to work with Alexa.)
For fixed lighting, like the ceiling lights above, you can get smart floodlight bulbs (or whatever type of bulb fits) that connect to your smart home hub or WiFi.
You can find a bunch of smart lightbulbs that will pair with Amazon’s Echo and Alexa here.(Note: Some of the smart bulbs can work directly with Alexa, and others need a smart home hub to work with Alexa.)
If you’d rather not buy smart bulbs, you can use Alexa-compatible dimmers and switches to control your home’s lighting.
You can find a bunch of dimmers and switches compatible with Alexa here. Note that not all dimmers and switches in the link are compatible with Alexa, make sure to look for “Works with Alexa” in the product name or description, and whether it needs a hub to work with Alexa.
Smart outlets plug right into your regular outlets, and you can plug pretty much any device to the smart outlet itself to turn those devices on or off with your voice. You can also set the smart outlet to turn on or off on a schedule, too.
You can find some smart outlets compatible with Alexa here. (Note: Some of the smart outlets can work directly with Alexa, and others need a smart home hub to work with Alexa.)
With smart door locks, you can ask Alexa to lock your doors with your voice.
For smart doorlocks, you’ll need a smart home hub compatible with Alexa from companies like Vivint, Securify Almond, Lutron, Samsung SmartThings, Nexia, and Wink that works with the smart lock of your choice.
However, due to security, you can’t ask Alexa to unlock your doors. Alexa has amazing voice recognition, and all it takes is a tech-savvy burglar to shout at Alexa from outside to unlock your doors.
If you have a smart alarm system, you can ask Alexa to arm the alarm.
Yet, Alexa won’t disarm your alarm for the same reason it won’t unlock your doors.
Smart thermostats don’t need any special installation. You can use the existing wiring behind your old thermostat, then connect it to your WiFi network or its respective smart home hub.
You can find a bunch of Alexa-compatible smart thermostats here. (Note: Some of the smart thermostats can work directly with Alexa, and others need a smart home hub to work with Alexa.)
Most smart home hubs that are compatible with Alexa are also compatible with smart garage door openers.
Like door locks and your alarm system, Alexa can’t open your garage door, it can only close it, for security reasons.
With your Amazon Echo with Alexa, you can turn your TV on, off, change the volume, and switch channels.
To do so, you’ll need a specific hub designed to work with entertainment devices. Logitech’s Harmony remote/hub (or just the hub) is compatible with Alexa and a popular choice for controlling your various entertainment devices with a single remote.
Another good choice is the AnyMote Home hub, which is also compatible with Alexa.
For smart fridges, you can ask Alexa to add something to your shopping list and even place an order for groceries, all without having to tap your smart fridge like a giant tablet.
For smart washer/dryers, you can ask Alexa to start a cycle and how long is left until it’s done.
There are even smart ovens you can ask Alexa to preheat or turn off, as well as smart window air conditioners and water heaters, too.
GE already has a few appliances that work with Alexa, and Whirlpool recently announced new appliances that will be compatible, too.
Ford and Volkswagen recently announced at CES 2017 that they will integrate Alexa into their cars. Ford’s integration will come during the first half of 2017, but there’s no timing for Volkswagen yet.
That means you could control your home, like lighting and temperature, from the comfort of your car using your voice. And that’s great because turning on your car’s lights and setting the temperature with an app is likely to distract the driver.
Eventually, you’ll also be able to use Alexa from home to lock/unlock, start your car, and set the climate control.
Yep, ceiling fans.
Fan, lighting, and HVAC company Haiku teamed up with Amazon to let you control its ceiling fans speeds and lights with Alexa.
The Amazon Fire TV’s remote, which comes with the Amazon Fire TV stick or Amazon Fire TV streaming box, comes with Alexa built in, so you can do everything you can do with the Amazon Echo without the Echo device itself. That also includes controlling the Fire TV so you can open apps to play video and music.
The main difference is that you have to press the microphone button on the Fire TV remote itself to activate Alexa, whereas with the Echo you can activate Alexa by simply calling it with your voice. The Fire TV and remote themselves also don’t have built-in speakers, so your music will come out of your TV speakers, or an audio system that’s connected to your TV.
from SAI http://ift.tt/2jrMfsd