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.

Here's What People Have to Say about the ConnectSense Smart Outlet

We know that getting started with creating a smart home can be a daunting task.  That's why we’ve designed the Smart Outlet to be easy to use and include a setup process that only takes a couple minutes to complete. There are also some great features for controlling the product like Siri Voice control and support for Apple HomeKit.  In addition, we remain committed to adding new and exciting features to the product going forward.

While we don’t expect users to have any issues with the Smart Outlet, we have a friendly and knowledgeable support team that is ready and willing to help.  We also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of our products as well as a 1-year warranty!

Finding information on products is not always easy, so we decided to make it easier by putting everything in one place.  We have highlighted some of our favorite reviews from customers on Amazon and the press below.  Feel free to provide feedback on the Smart Outlet and share it with us through a review or by contacting us; we love to hear from customers and are always looking for feedback on our products!

Consumer Reviews:

Great Scott! – 5/5 Stars

This is a HUGE upgrade from those little outlet timers we used to use! I ordered my Smart Outlet and it was delivered within two days which is great because I was super excited to play with it! It came in a neat package so I posed it with some Pellegrino and took a photo. The device fits perfectly into our outlets and its simple design blends in perfectly with any home. The fact that it works with Apple HomeKit is a major bonus! I plugged the Smart Outlet in and within minutes, I downloaded Connect Sense's app and added my device. Don't laugh, but there was great satisfaction in scanning the device number with my phone's camera to add it (as opposed to manually entering the numbers)!

The Future is Here!  - 5/5 Stars

I LOVE both of my ConnectSense smart outlets! I have wowed many friends by using Siri to adjust my lights, but more than that it's just practical. I use one outlet in my main living area to control two separate lamps (also my primary phone charger via USB) and the other in our master bathroom to control/monitor power to my wife's hair dryer and hair straightening iron. For the living area I set a rule to turn on the living room lamps at sunset and they go on without me even thinking about it. I haven't used the timer functionality yet, but I will give that a run in the next few days when I go out of town. The customizability and ability to set rules based on solar events, time, and on/off status really set this *dual* outlet apart from some of the other options I looked at. I hope that Apple + ConnectSense are able to build on this functionality in the future (e.g. geo-based rules when my phone nears home or connects to Wi-Fi, day of week scheduling, and countdown timer to turn an outlet on/off 'x' hours after it was turned on.) Like another one of the reviewers, it did drop the Wi-Fi a few times, but that was easily resolved for me by unplugging/replugging the outlet. It also looks like that's being corrected by forthcoming firmware update.

Helps you control and monitor the power in your home – 5/5 Stars

One of the things I dislike during the holidays is turning the Christmas tree lights on and off. After the tree is decorated and presents are stashed underneath, it can become very difficult to plug and unplug the tree lights. I can’t tell you how many times I stumbled over my own feet trying to turn on the lights. This is one reason I love the insurance of smart outlets into the connected home space. While I’ve had the opportunity to test out a couple of different kinds of smart outlets, I am particularly fond of the ConnectSense Smart Outlet. It works with Apple HomeKit and has a very simple installation process. The ConnectSense Smart Outlet makes it possible for you to control certain non-smart devices with Siri. For example, say you have a lamp that is not WiFi capable and neither is its bulb. You could plug the ConnectSense Smart Outlet into the wall and then the lamp into Smart Outlet. You could then control the power signal to the object from your phone, or through Siri. This type of option is particularly useful for Christmas-time when you want to do things like turn your lights on and off. Saying, “Siri, turn off the Christmas tree,” to your phone is very liberating.

Press Reviews:

Mashable - Apple may be working on an app to control home products, report says

In an article about Apple potentially releasing a Home app to provide HomeKit users with more control over devices, ConnectSense received special mention for being one of the best products in the first batch of HomeKit-enabled products.

Grid Connect's ConnectSense Smart Outlet ($79), which will run on Apple's HomeKit platform, turns existing products in the house like lamps, older game consoles and dishwashers into smart appliances.

iLounge-  Review: Grid Connect ConnectSense Smart Outlet

The ConnectSense Smart Outlet was ranked higher than other competing HomeKit outlets, such iDevices’ Switch, in iLounge’s series of HomeKit product reviews. The Smart Outlet was highly recommended and received an “A-” grade due to its seamless integration with HomeKit as well as its user-friendliness.

The ConnectSense Smart Outlet works well and does a great job of providing all of the necessary HomeKit functionality with some nice bonuses and a solid app at a very reasonable price. Not only are you getting two outlets for $80 — the same price you’d pay for two iHome SmartPlugs — but you’re also getting controllable status LEDs and a 2.4A USB charging port in the mix.

Electronic House - Grid Connect ConnectSense Smart Outlet

In this review, Lisa Montgomery is enthralled by the simplicity within the elegant ConnectSense Smart Outlet. She is very impressed with the user-friendliness of the outlet as well as its ability to interact with other HomeKit devices. It is described as an affordable way to automate a home.

Often, it’s the simple stuff that makes the most sense. Case in point: The ConnectSense Smart Outlet from Grid Connect. On the surface, the Wi-Fi device, which plugs into a standard electrical outlet looks very vanilla—featuring just a couple of wall sockets and a USB charging port. The port itself frees up the outlets for other purposes, which is cool. But what makes the ConnectSense something to get excited about is its ability to respond to voice commands.

c|net - Grid Connect ConnectSense Smart Outlet review

The Smart Outlet landed an overall positive review in an article written by Andrew Gebhart. He was very enthusiastic about the usability and performance of the device. The fully-functional outlet does exactly what it was designed to do. The part that stands out is the ConnectSense app, which is extremely useful for HomeKit regardless of if the outlet is being used or not.

The ConnectSense app deserves particular praise, as it lets you control all of your HomeKit devices, not just Grid Connect's, and makes it easy to group them into HomeKit's organizational buckets such as rooms and zones. I dismissed the app when discussing all HomeKit apps back in November, but the Grid Connect team obviously worked on it a lot since then.

King 5 - Eco-Friendly Gadgets for Your Home and Car

Technology reporter Brain Westbrook reported on the amazing capabilities of the ConnectSense Smart Outlet. It was listed as an economically friendly way to manage an environment. In his review, he discusses the power of the Smart Outlet and its compatibility with Apple HomeKit, making it perfect for iOS users.

ConnectSense is another simple to install, easy-to-use, accessory. Plug the smart outlet into your standard outlet for the ability to control your devices from anywhere. No need to buy "smart" appliances, with the Smart Outlet, you can tell Siri to turn on a device from anywhere.

Live Smart - ConnectSense Smart Outlet lets any device work with Apple HomeKit

Live Smart is a website devoted to providing readers with quality content based on popular smart technology. In this article, ConnectSense’s Smart Outlet is considered a perfect device for transitioning to a smart home because it enables users to use any regular device. The Smart Outlet gives any home owner complete control over their home environment.

While the idea of a fully-fledged smart home is our idea of heaven, not everyone is ready to make the financial leap to a gang of brand new shiny smart gadgets. But ConnectSense wants to give us all a taste of the action with this clever little smart outlet… There’s also some fun to be had with ConnectSense’s own app, which gives you remote access to the power usage of any devices plugged into the outlet. You can control and monitor both of the ports on the outlet separately, which gives you complete freedom with whatever two devices you decide to plug in.

 

For more information about ConnectSense products, here are some more press reviews that are worth checking out:

Appliance Design – ConnectSense Smart Outlet

Computer World - CES 2016: 8 interesting HomeKit accessories

Digital Trends – Growing List of Devices Compatible with Apple HomeKit

EIWA Wrestling – Eco-Accommodating Contraptions for your Home and Auto

Electronic House - ConnectSense Wi-Fi Smart Outlet Works with Apple HomeKit

Famadillo - ConnectSense Outlet

GadgetSin – ConnectSense Smart Plug Supports Apple HomeKit Technology

GottaBeMobile -  How to Turn Almost Anything into a Smart Appliance

HerezWhat - Smart Phones Smart Lamps Now its Smart Home

iMore - Perfect HomeKit Gifts for Everyone You Know!

Luxury Magazine - Tech Goes Green: 10 Gadgets that Save Power and Water While Making Life More Comfortable (Page 176)

MacRumors - ConnectSense Review: The Smart Outlet Offers Two HomeKit-Enabled Sockets and a USB Port

MacSources - ConnectSense Outlet Review

MacVoices - MacVoices #16064: CES - ConnectSense Brings Apple HomeKit Compatibility To Home Automation

MyInforms - How to Turn Almost Anything into a Smart Appliance

NBC 5 Chicago - Weekend Web: Wi-Fi Controlled Outlet

On CE – The HomeKit-Enabled ConnectSense Sensors

Parenting Bytes - Screenagers

PhoneDog – Best Tech of February 2016!

ShakerBuzz – Cool New Tech (Feb. 2016 Edition)

Sound and Vision – ConnectSense’s HomeKit-Enabled Smart Outlet is Smart and Sensible

Tech50+ - Dads & Grads – Part II – Gifts for the 50+ Dad

TeQreation - Simple Yet Effective Smart Home Solution for #iOS by ConnectSense

The Bleeding Edge - Bleeding Edge TV 573: ConnectSense Smart Outlet with HomeKit Review

WiFi Calling & Messaging -  Father's Day Gift Idea: ConnectSense WiFi-Enabled Smart Outlet to Easily Automate Your Home

Clash of the Smart Home Titans: Amazon Echo vs. Google Home vs. Apple HomeKit

By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer/Marketing

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been revolutionary in changing the way consumers interact with the technological devices in their lives. The amount of users with IoT devices in their homes, cars, and even on their bodies is also growing at an increasing rate. It is clear that IoT technology is heavily integrated into the lives of many consumers. That being said, there has been a lot of media coverage regarding the security of these devices.

Security in modern technological devices is a critical feature and a very big concern for consumers due to the threat of being hacked. Properly encrypting IoT devices is very important because very personal information can be accessed through IoT devices. In addition to simply losing personal information, the physical safety of consumers is at risk. An example of this can be found in the 2014 Jeep incident. Hackers were able to infiltrate a Jeep Cherokee via the internet in order to send commands to the car’s entertainment system, brakes, steering, and even the transmission. Despite the fact that this happened a couple of years ago, the technology is still under the same risk of being hacked. Even the FBI has intervened and has begun to warn any car makers and owners that vehicles with high levels of internet access have an increased risk of being hacked. 

These security issues aren’t just affecting cars; these problems can be observed in a variety of other Internet-enabled devices. Another example is how connected baby monitors and other home monitoring devices are being tapped into by hackers, allowing them to see if anyone is home. Essentially any IoT device can be breached and used in an unintended way if proper security measures aren’t taken. When valuable data is at risk, security should be a bigger concern for manufacturers. The current and common culture among IoT companies is to release devices to this public with minimum protective measures in order to be the first to the market. Not all companies are a part of this culture, but a large portion of them contribute to these security issues. It’s not an issue of developers being unfamiliar with the intricacy of this high-end technology, it’s an issue of not taking the extra time to implement adequate security measures.

It is clear that having impeccable security features will benefit the consumer and the manufacturer in the long run. The invasive nature of IoT technology leaves the user very vulnerable to breaches in safety and security. The manufacturers should be responsible for monitoring the activity of their devices and determining how to block suspicious activity once the product is released. However, if security systems were developed in entirety before a device is released, these extra measures wouldn’t be as necessary. As IoT technology continues to become a bigger part of the lives of the consumers, it will be vital to our safety that a higher standard of security is implemented.

Smart home technology is continuing to grow in popularity as Google, Amazon, and Apple have begun to take over the smart home market. Even though Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomeKit are inherently similar products that include the integration of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, they are not as similar as they appear.

Amazon Echo was one of the first devices that allowed control of smart home technology when it was released in 2014, giving it a big advantage in the smart home market. The Echo is controlled via voice automation with its personal assistant named Alexa. The user is able to ask Alexa questions and use a series of commands, each starting with “Alexa,” in order to control compatible smart home devices. The Echo is well-equipped with a large amount of smart devices that are compatible with its software in comparison to Google. The thing that makes the Echo stand out is that the user doesn’t have to try and use multiple apps and passwords to access their different devices. The Echo has a lot of unique voice control options which you can use to do things such as order a pizza, play games, call an Uber, and much more. The built-in machine learning algorithms allow Alexa to pick up on voice patterns, user vocabulary, and even your habits when using the device.

Google Home is currently the biggest up and coming threat to the Echo. Google Home is similar to the Echo as it is a standalone speaker that is able to listen to you and respond. Each device is activated with a simple voice command, in this case, the user only has to say “Google” before speaking. Google Home is a lot more efficient than the Amazon Echo because of conversational voice commands. This essentially means that you can ask Google Home “What are the names of the restaurants around me,” followed up by asking, “Which is the closest to me now?” Google Home allows you to continue down a certain path while Amazon Echo can’t follow strings of associated questions. Another benefit of Google Home is that you can control any Google Cast speakers or any speakers and televisions you have a Chromecast device plugged in to. Amazon Echo devices are not able to sync with each other. The Google Now operating system is the most efficient in comparison to the devices by Amazon and Apple due to the plethora of commands available. A simple addition of Google Home is its customizable appearance. Having the ability to change the colors and material of the product can be beneficial for matching the design patterns of your home.

Upcoming Apple HomeKit technology is innovative and will make them a very real threat to Amazon and Google. Apple’s Siri-powered devices makes them a perfect fit for the home automation market. The multilingual Siri gives Apple an advantage as the Alexa voice service contained in the Amazon Echo can only speak and comprehend English. Apple is also going to allow developers of third party apps to use Siri. HomeKit is currently software only, but there will be a dedicated hardware unit released similar to that of the Echo and Google Home. There are rumors that voice commands might be integrated with the newest Apple TV. However, a potential flaw to this idea is that people often place their Apple TV’s out of sight, which could make the voice controls difficult to access.

Each of these devices will need to work to their strengths and overcome their weakness in order to adapt to the increasing demand for integrated smart home technology. The Echo is a voice-automated device with a lot of very powerful features, allowing for a very integrated and accessible smart home. The operating power of Google Home makes it the ultimate voice automation device. Apple HomeKit includes very intelligent and user friendly software. Even though Apple hasn’t confirmed what their actual hardware unit will be like, it will be comparable to the Google and Amazon hardware units in terms of functionality and integration with smart home technology. Once all devices are on the market, there are a lot of factors that will impact their success such as user-friendliness, smart home integration, accessibility, and the fluency of the voice automation.

Make the Most of Hands-Free “Hey Siri” on Your iPhone or iPad

The release of Apple’s hands-free and automated assistant Siri has given the users of Apple products a lot more power with much more convenience. Simply saying the phrase “Hey Siri” to your iPhone will give you full access to a range of commands. If you don’t have this feature set up on your device you can do so by going to “Settings” > “General” > “Siri” and then enabling the option that says “Allow ‘Hey Siri’,” which will then prompt you to say “Hey Siri” a few times in order to identify your voice. In the Siri menu you have the option to update things such as the language, Siri’s voice, and whether or not you want her to speak back to you. If you have Siri set up you can then access the potential of this feature by using it for home automation. Apple’s HomeKit is a way to utilize Siri to control automated devices such as the ConnectSense Smart Outlet. You can control a variety of accessories in categories of zones, rooms, and scenes. An example of some commands you can use to control Siri would be “Set the temperature to [input]” or even “Turn off the lights upstairs.” Using Siri makes controlling your automated home very easy and convenient. 

Read more:  http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/make-hands-free-hey-siri-iphone-ipad/

 

ConnectSense Smart Outlet Review

While I’ve had the opportunity to test out a couple of different kinds of smart outlets, I am particularly fond of the ConnectSense Smart Outlet. It works with Apple HomeKit and has a very simple installation process. The ConnectSense Smart Outlet makes it possible for you to control certain non-smart devices with Siri. For example, say you have a lamp that is not WiFi capable and neither is its bulb. You could plug the ConnectSense Smart Outlet into the wall and then the lamp into Smart Outlet. You could then control the power signal to the object from your phone, or through Siri. This type of option is particularly useful for Christmas-time when you want to do things like turn your lights on and off. Saying, “Siri, turn off the Christmas tree,” to your phone is very liberating.

Read more at MacSources.