So why is Amazon’s Alexa the breakthrough product that is finally going make voice control viable?
It’s Open. It is truly unlimited what you can do with it. In my house a Movie Time voice command turns off all the lights, lowers all the shades, turns on my video projector, drops my screen, turns on my pre-amp, turns on my Kaleidescape, and brings up the movie cover art view.
Alexa’s integration with Sonos allows potentially millions of existing owners add a cool new feature to their music systems. PlayFi also has Alexa integration, but even cooler, new PlayFi speakers will actually act as Alexa speakers, broadening the reach of voice control throughout the home and eliminating the need for another piece of hardware.
That Alexa uses an open standard and will work with a variety of different systems is going to make all the difference.
It’s Cheap. Not only was it incredibly affordable to begin with, Amazon brilliantly announced the refresh of the Echo Dot at a shockingly affordable $49. You can even buy five and get one free!
Now, for less than the price of one of the fancy remote controls we love so much, you can outfit an entire house with voice control. For $49, you could afford to just drop one in to every project and get people hooked on it. And once people see how easy — and cool! — it is to control their house with voice, I’m betting they will want to add more things to control.
It’s Time. Voice control has been hovering on the periphery of our industry for a while but just hasn’t seemed to be able to catch on. Heaven knows television manufacturers gave it (and gesture control) the old college try for a while, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a customer actually use the voice control function.
With the explosion of smartphones, people are also accustomed to asking devices for things. “Hey, Siri” and “OK, Google” to get directions, call a contact, or search for something are intuitive voice commands that nearly everyone uses on a daily basis. Extending this control from your pocket to your home is a logical step and something that people want to have.
It’s Hands Free. People are going to inherently gravitate to the thing that is the easiest, which is why voice control makes so much sense to kick off macros or lifestyle scenes in a home.
And with Alexa always listening, you can just call out and ask it to do things. Like when you are coming or going from your home and maybe have your arms full or don’t want to fumble around to pull out your phone and open an app.
It’s Demonstrable. People innately understand talking and asking for things and they will immediately get using Alexa and seeing how it would fit into their lifestyle. Further you can easily — and affordably! — set up voice scenes in a showroom that people will immediately grasp.
Others don’t care about all the lighting control you programmed in the background, or how you got the audio integration to work. They will just see that with a simple voice command they took control of their home.
Alexa is coming. Now the question is: What are you going to do with it?