Table of contents:
- Who is Alexa?
- Speak instead of typing
- Connect with Alexa
- Turn on the light with Alexa
- Google's answer machine
- Smart play of light
Video: Smart Home: With Amazon Alexa, my house is listening
Typing and swiping was yesterday. Thanks to voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, the networked home can now also be controlled through good persuasion.
Millions of people speak to Alexa: a cylindrical loudspeaker in black or white, which is now perched on more and more living room tables: The device has the model name Amazon Echo, but is called "Alexa". And it answers when you talk to him. One asks: "Alexa, what will the weather be like?", "Alexa, what time is it?", "Alexa, tell a joke!" - and promptly a voice quotes the weather forecast, gives the time and gives a calculation after others for the best. The voice-over is more than a nice gimmick: Alexa, like a digital butler, creates shopping lists, plays music or reminds you of appointments. Alexa can even control smart home devices: dim lights, shutters or operate the oven.
Who is Alexa?
Alexa is a creation of the Internet company Amazon: a digital voice assistant equipped with artificial intelligence. Those who own a smartphone are often familiar with similar services. Google Now, the know-it-all of the Internet search engine, already uses 17 million people in this country. To search for something on Google, typing is superfluous: the question is spoken into the smartphone microphone - and Google answers. The voice services Siri from Apple and Cortana from Microsoft work on the same principle.
What is new about Alexa is that communication takes place via a smart loudspeaker, which reacts as soon as the activation word "Alexa" is pronounced. The devices from Amazon, "Echo" and the smaller model "Dot", are just one way among many to get in touch with Alexa. Other electronics providers, such as PC manufacturer Lenovo, are also launching smart loudspeakers for Alexa. Even automobile manufacturer VW integrates Alexa into its vehicles. In the future, VW drivers will be able to bring the heating up to temperature in the living room on their way home.
Speak instead of typing
The hype about Alexa and the smart speaker is huge. More than six million audio devices such as Amazon Echo were sold worldwide last year. And Alexa will soon be facing competition on German living room tables. Google Home, a stylish loudspeaker for the Google voice service, will soon also be available in this country. Timm Lutter, Bitkom expert for consumer electronics and digital media, is seeing increasing enthusiasm for voice control in particular inspire: “Thanks to voice assistants, intelligent technology in the home becomes really easy: No matter whether TV, light or heating - networked devices can be hands-free controlled from anywhere in the room.”This is why Alexa & Co really awaken the desire of many consumers to spice up their home with intelligence. Experts predict that sales in the smart home segment in Germany will increase from around EUR 800 million last year to almost EUR 2 billion in 2018. Fans of smart technology can already look forward to: Many devices in the house can already be operated by voice.
Siri moves into the prefabricated house
Builders can have Weberhaus prefabricated houses built completely networked. The Baden-based manufacturer is cooperating with the US company Apple and has been integrating its Apple Homekit home control system into its smart houses since this year. If you move into such a house, you can not only control the heating, shutters and lights via iPad or iPhone, but also with Siri, Apple's voice assistant. You don't even have to hold newer iPhone and iPad models in your hands. The mobile device only has to be within walking distance.
Cleverly built: Weberhaus is the first manufacturer of prefabricated houses to offer smart homes that can be controlled with Apple's HomeKit. Whether brightness, temperature or burglary protection - the smart house obeys the call "Hey, Siri!" All settings can also be made via iPhone or iPad
Connect with Alexa
This is how technology is fun
Customers of Telekom's Magenta Smart Home can now control their networked home with Alexa as well as those who have opted for the Innogy SE system. Once the basic settings have been made, blinds, lights or alarm systems can be easily operated using a voice command. Tado, South German provider of air conditioning solutions, has made its intelligent thermostats fit for both Alexa and Siri. “Voice assistants make it even easier for users to control their devices. Alexa, Siri & Co also bring emotionality into play,”says Tado CEO Leopold von Bismarck. And at the latest since great play and learning skills for children have been around, Alexa has been popular with all family members.
Hobby chefs will be happy to hear that home appliance manufacturer Bosch is also cooperating with Amazon. Anyone who is kneading pizza dough with both hands will appreciate it when they can call out to their stove: "Alexa, heat the oven to 200 degrees." And later Alexa knows the answer to the most important question of the evening: "Alexa, when is it? Ready to eat?”To impress the guests, you don't need to upgrade your kitchen straight away. One sentence is enough: "Alexa, play songs by Queen from the 70s" - and Freddie Mercury's powerful voice already fills the room. The same trick works with Helene Fischer, ZZ Top or Bach cantatas. A music subscription from Amazon is required (from around four euros per month). It is very effective to conjure up the right light control with smart lights like Philips Hue. When announced, the lamps can not only be switched on and off or dimmed. The command “Alexa, switch on the party scene” immediately bathes the room in colorful light.
Visiting Captain Kirk
If you do not like the name Alexa, you can of course rename your serving spirit. The Amazon voice assistant can also be activated with the word "computer". It sounds like you're on board the Enterprise with Captain Kirk and Mister Spock. Unfortunately, only one thing doesn't quite work out: "Beam me up, Scotty!"
innogy SmartHome heating package
Turn on the light with Alexa
Voice control of lamps is a simple and impressive smart home application.
Which speaker is suitable?
The simple Amazon Dot model (60 euros) is enough to operate devices by voice. The sound quality of Amazon Echo (160 euros) is significantly better for music playback.
How do my lamps get smart?
Intelligent WLAN socket adapters are available for around 50 euros (TP-Link). Smart light bulbs that master multiple colors are more effective (Philips Hue or Osram Lightify). The illuminants always need a suitable control element.
How do you connect smart lights to Alexa?
To do this, open the Alexa app on your smartphone. There, the manufacturers of the smart home products provide their so-called "skills", with which Alexa learns new skills: Select the skill "Hue" for Philips Hue, activate it, done.
This is how old houses become wise
Even older radiators are capable of learning and can even be controlled with voice commands. All you need are modern thermostats and a control unit that is connected to the home WiFi. The "innogy SmartHome heating package" contains five thermostats and the control unit for around 250 euros.
Google's answer machine
The somewhat bulbous Google home speaker will soon be launched on the German market as a competitor to Amazon Echo and Alexa. Anyone who owns it can have Google search for information completely hands-free. In the U.S., the device costs $ 130. Google Home will also be able to control the smart house in the future.
Google home speakers
Photo: Google inc.
Smart play of light
Everyone can switch on and off. Light becomes really exciting when colors are added. Whether tropical feeling with warm shades of red or cool blue to chill out: the smart Philips Hue lamps create different moods on call. Three lights with controls cost around 150 euros. Practical: the bulbs can easily be screwed into existing lamps.
Filament body Philips Hue
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