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How Speech Technology is Making The Smart Home Smarter

Speech technology is being used in smart homes

Imagine being able to control everything in your home with just your voice. You walk in, feel it’s a little too hot, and tell the windows to close and the air conditioning to turn on. You go on to tell your lights in the kitchen to turn on as you walk in. Then you tell your oven to start preheating to 400 degrees. Finally, you ask your speakers to start playing your favorite music playlist.

You just completed a variety of mundane tasks in a matter of seconds. This is what smart home technology can do when paired with speech technology.

You don’t have to only imagine this either. You can already do it in the comfort of your very real home. New smart home devices and technologies make it possible for you to control parts of your home remotely. And speech technology is making it possible for you to do that with your voice.

Both of these types of technologies aren’t that new. Smart home technologies started gaining popularity in the 2000s, while speech technologies such as voice recognition and text-to-speech have been around a bit longer.

But now we’re seeing these technologies being used together more often. Innovators are trying to make it possible for anyone to control their home and appliances using only their voice. Devices such as the Amazon Echo and the Google Home are seeking to connect all parts of a smart home together to control them all through one device.

The Amazon Echo features text to speech

(Amazon Echo)

Home Automation and IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) has made the smart home possible. IoT is the internetworking of devices. These connected devices can collect data, share information, and communicate with people and other connected devices.

Basically, IoT involves connecting your devices to the internet. This allows these devices to gather information and share it with you. An example would be a smart fridge that is able to send you a text alert before you leave from work that you are out of eggs and need to pick some up.

One of the most prominent smart home products appeared in 2011; Nest’s learning thermostat. The self-learning thermostat was able to learn its user’s patterns and adjust the temperature of the house or room accordingly, saving costs on heating and air while also improving comfort for the user.

Today, more and more household appliances that can be connected to the internet and controlled remotely are making their market debuts. There are smart refrigerators, ovens, window shades, lights, speakers, and security cameras among several others.

Amazon and Google bringing it all together

All of these home automation devices are truly great to have. However, controlling them all could feel a little overwhelming. Each has its own interface and own method for controlling itself. This could actually make controlling all of your smart home devices a hassle.

To fix this problem, special smart phone apps and remote controllers have been introduced to the market over the past few years with the purpose of controlling multiple home automation devices. The Amazon Echo and Google Home are two examples. Both of these devices are able to bring several other smart home devices within the same ecosystem, allowing users to control them all through one device.

And what makes the Echo and Google Home so great is the voice-controlled interface that they both feature. These devices are making it possible for somebody to control their entire house with just their voice.

Case and point, by using the power of speech technology as a natural interface, Amazon and Google are making the smart home even smarter.

The Amazon Echo and Google Home aren’t the first devices made to connect all your smart home devices and let you control them with your voice. However, they have presented a segway to the future development of the smart home technologies by converging speech technology and popular protocols, then adding powerful intelligence capabilities to communicate and control smart home devices.

Google Home makes your home smarter with speech technology

(Google Home)

There are several reasons why having a voice-controlled interface is the best possible way to control a smart home device. First, it’s accessible. People with disabilities or who have a hard time moving can still control their devices with just their voice. Second, it’s quicker than searching for a remote or pulling out your phone and opening an app. And third, smart home devices are able to communicate back to you with text-to-speech, which significantly enhances the user experience because the smart device is able to relay important information to you instantly.

The list of all the smart home devices that the Amazon Echo can work with is extensive. Plus, thanks to Amazon making their Smart Home Skill API accessible to everyone, developers can easily allow their devices to connect to the Echo. Because of this, we can expect many future smart home devices to be compatible with the Echo.

Google Home doesn’t quite have as many partners yet, and unfortunately Google hasn’t release an API to let developers integrate their own products into Google Home. However, insiders and experts expect the list of partners to grow soon, making Google Home very competitive against the Amazon Echo.

What lies ahead

Many challenges are ahead of us. Smart home devices don’t have a standardized protocol for all devices to talk to one another.  This could result in many manufacturer (or developer) specific protocols and platforms that will in turn create technology fragmentation and delay market adoption. Device manufacturers may as well think this the biggest challenge.  However, the leading commercialization of the aforementioned devices seems to harbinger a bright future.

The speech technology industry is forecasted to see tremendous growth in the immediate future. It is widely agreed that the most easy-to-use and natural interface is voice, so it only makes sense that the developers of smart home devices would want their products to be able to understand voice commands and be able to respond using text-to-speech.

What do you think?

Do you use or did you develop your own smart home device? What other ways do you think speech technology can be used to improve our home lives? Let us know in the comments!

Learn More about NeoSpeech’s Text-to-Speech

Learn more about the endless applications of text-to-speech on our Text-to-Speech Areas of Application page. If you’re interested in learning about how you can use text-to-speech in your product, visit our Text-to-Speech Products page.

If you’re interested in adding Text-to-Speech software to your application or would like to learn more about TTS, please fill out our Sales Inquiry form and one of our friendly team members will be happy to help.

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