The Power of Voice Control

By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer

Controlling a smart home is primarily focused on being able to do things as quickly as possible. Sorting through various apps for different buttons to control smart devices is cumbersome and time consuming. While it is still nice to have the ability to control devices from a smart phone, advancements in voice recognition have made voice control a more accessible convenience. Not only do users have the luxury of not having to navigate through their phones, the time it takes to complete a task is significantly reduced.

Voice control is the vehicle that will allow the smart home industry to thrive. When it boils down to it, clicking a button on a phone is not much faster than clicking a button on a device. This is especially true if the user is trying to complete a more complex task. In a Digital Trends article, the potential of voice control is explained, “Being able to issue these really complex requests that you could never really emulate using traditional input modalities, that’s where speech and language on the TV is providing tremendous value.” Utilizing voice commands enable users to find solutions to complex problems in a way that is extremely simple to navigate.

The convenience voice control brings to users is unparalleled by touch controls, making it a central part of future smart home infrastructure. Even though the power of voice commands is undeniable, it is not at the point where it can give users enough control over their homes without a mobile control device. This may not be the case in a couple years, as voice recognition continues to improve, but for now, voice controls should be coupled with some other physical/visual interface.

The current status of voice control can be observed within current smart home technology. With Amazon Echo, there isn’t a touch interface, so the user has to rely on voice commands. When it comes to asking Alexa to do something such as search the web, the user doesn’t have the control to browse through their options; they have to trust that Alexa is optimized to fit their needs at that point in time. Apple HomeKit has the voice assistant Siri, who can take the voice command and present the user with their options. They can then select the option tailored to their preferences with the touch controls on a mobile device. These smart home platforms are both powerful, but Apple HomeKit is better equipped to deal with the transition to voice control as the primary tool for home control.

Advancements in voice recognition have placed voice control at the forefront of innovation within the smart home industry. This technology is not perfect at its current stage, but it is something that will make consumers more satisfied and willing to invest in internet-enabled devices. The continual improvements to voice control technology will allow for speech-oriented commands to be the main interface for smart home control in the coming years.

Back to college? What the kids need

Heading off to college is an exciting time for most students, but there are a couple of things that can be done to prepare them to be successful. College students no longer have their parents living with them, which is why they should be prepared to take care of themselves. There are a couple of cheap items that students can purchase to make living on their own painlessly easy, giving them ample time to work on classwork, or simply just relax.

In a video that details some modern necessities for heading back to school, the ConnectSense Smart Outlet received special mention. This device allows students to automate their dorms and apartments at a cheap price. Whether it is turning on the lights from their desk or bed with a Siri voice command, or making a pot of coffee on their way back from class with the touch of a button, the Smart Outlet allows students to control their living environment with ease. The Smart Outlet will make life significantly more convenient for students, providing instantaneous control over any electronic device or appliance. 

To see the fully video from WWLP, please visit http://wwlp.com/2016/08/22/back-to-college-what-the-kids-need/

What Interoperability Means for the Internet of Things

By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer

The Internet of Things (IoT) is reliant upon connection, making communication one of the most rudimentary functions of internet-enabled technology. Interoperability opens up endless opportunities for IoT devices as it ensures that devices will be able to communicate with each other and store data in a central location. The IoT will be able to fulfil its promises of convenience and functionality if multiple devices can be controlled simultaneously while being able to communicate and transfer data with each other.

A majority of the companies that are manufacturing IoT technology are trying to create platforms and devices that will be accepted as the “industry leading solution.” However, this culture within the IoT industry has led to a large assortment of devices that have to be controlled as separate entities and from different apps. The fact of the matter is that consumers simply don’t want to have 50 different devices, each with their own app, that operate independently of each other. The growth of the industry will be limited until manufacturers begin to collaborate in developing devices that will work together within the same network.

Manufacturers clearly understand that interoperability is a necessity for the IoT to continue to grow. So why hasn’t a standardized control system been created? The answer is simple: money and brand recognition. Each company wants to be the one that develops the ultimate “hub” for controlling IoT technology as it will come with a major payout. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just means it will take more time to reach seamless interoperability than it would if there were more collaborative efforts. That being said, there are still some open-source initiatives to create interoperability that have shown signs of promise such as Qualcomm’s AllSeen Alliance.

When it comes to the individual corporations that are trying to create hubs for controlling smart technology, it appears that Apple is on the verge of creating total interoperability for HomeKit products. The upgraded Apple operating system, iOS10, has transformed the way HomeKit is used with its addition of the Home app. This app allows for any HomeKit device to be controlled from a central location. This means that instead of going to an app for each manufacturer, all devices can be controlled in the hub Apple has integrated within their new operating system. Companies like Google and Microsoft have also created similar smart home platforms, but they don’t quite offer this level of interoperability and don’t seem to have as much traction in the consumer world. These developments in HomeKit are great strides in achieving interoperability within the IoT.

Even though HomeKit has achieved a previously unseen level of interoperability, it still isn’t quite what consumers want in terms of creating a smart home that is completely connected. This is because HomeKit products are the only products that can communicate and operate within this network, thus limiting the device integration to Apple approved devices. This isn’t a bad thing for Apple because many other tech giants are trying to create this same level of interoperability for their respective smart home platforms. At this point in time, this segregated version of interoperability is the best consumers will get until these large corporations put their differences aside.

The current trends within the IoT industry are unlikely to change anytime soon due to the fact that smart home technology is still in the late stages of its infancy. As technology becomes more advanced and more efficient, consumers will begin to demand networks that are more connected, with devices that are able to communicate and operate in harmony. The interoperability provided in Apple HomeKit is a significant advancement from previous systems and is an innovative solution at this point in time. It will be interesting to see if large IoT businesses will be willing to work together in an effort to create a centralized hub that can control and communicate with any type of smart device.

Save Money on Insurance with a Water Sensor

Repairing the damages inflicted on a home caused by water-related issues can be expensive and agonizing for both homeowners and insurance companies. Many insurance companies recognize the commonality of water damage as natural elements are among the most common threats in terms of disturbing a home environment. Northbrook Insurance Associates, Inc. calculated the most common home insurance claims and ranked water damage as the most common cause of damage for homeowners. These types of damages may seem difficult to avoid, but utilizing a ConnectSense Water Sensor can help remedy these difficulties and allow homeowners to detect water before it becomes a problem.

The benefits of using a water sensor within a home environment are simply astonishing. There are many different ways that water can create a problem at home. Whether it be a flooding basement, a broken washing machine hose, a leaking roof/ceiling, or something else, the damages can be catastrophic. Even though home insurance can cover these damages, it is still a tremendous burden to have to repair them, as well as replace any ruined furniture or possessions. Implementing a water sensor within a home environment will allow home owners to prevent any damages to their home by catching any issues before they become a serious problem. It is an economical solution that can save homeowners time in terms of repairing their home and filing insurance claims. There are also various insurance companies that will offer a discount to a consumer’s premium if they install a water sensor.

Installing a water sensor may seem like it is only to the homeowner’s benefit, but it can actually help insurance companies save money too. The ideal household for an insurance company is one that has a lower risk of an expensive incident occurring. If insurance companies advise their customers to invest in reliable water sensors, they can help prevent the quantity of claims made for water damages. This means that insurance companies won’t need to spend as much money each year to pay off claims.

A water sensor can alleviate the pain caused by water damages for both homeowners and insurance companies. Homeowners can save money on their premiums and not have to waste their time and energy repairing any damages to their home. Insurance companies have the ability to save money because they will not need to spend as much money on insurance claims. Investing in a reliable water sensor, such as the ConnectSense Water Sensor, will ultimately reduce the expenses of water damage. These benefits do not stop with water sensors; there are a variety of other impeccable ConnectSense sensors that can help reduce the costs of premiums for homeowners and claims for insurance companies.

How to Control your Setup like a Boss

Having to individually turn on/off an assortment of devices every time you enter a room can be a major nuisance and a waste of time. Any room can be controlled with ease utilizing the Apple HomeKit compatible, ConnectSense Smart Outlet. It essentially allows users to group all of their smart home devices together and control them via Siri voice commands. The outlet has two separately controlled outlets, a 2.4A USB port (perfect for charging phones and tablets), and two buttons for turning each outlet on/off.

This device is painlessly easy to setup! Simply plug the device into the wall and follow the quick setup steps included in the box; the device will be up and running in a matter of minutes. Once the device is setup, each outlet can be controlled with the touch of a button. The app allows users to change the name of outlets and use different icons to identify different devices. The app is intuitive and well-designed, allowing for the seamless creation of homes, rooms, zones, and scenes. All of these can be controlled in instantaneously using the powerful Siri voice commands.

If you love your setup and want to take it to the next level then you are going to love ConnectSense. Basically we have a smart outlet that runs via Apple HomeKit technology and allows you to control whatever you want via Siri.