The smart home market is beginning to expand also in Italy, as evidenced by the growth of the various interconnected devices.
Thermostats, light bulbs, switches, appliances, TV and HiFi systems, alarms, doors and windows, even mirrors, can be controlled remotely. In order for all these devices to communicate with each other, a control center is needed: a smart hub, an application or a smart speaker.
What are smart speakers and how they work
The smart speaker is a device that is activated through a voice recognition system. These systems are called voice assistants and are the software soul of the device, similar to those used on smartphones, such as Siri for Apple or Google Assistant for Android. The software is inserted in a speaker equipped with very sensitive microphones, which intercepts our voice and returns the answer to our questions or performs a function.
To function, the smart speaker needs a WiFi connection, through which it connects to the apps and smart devices installed at home.
What you can do with the smart speaker
Smart speakers can first answer our questions. For example, we can ask what time it is or how long ago, or to search for a topic on the network, the latest news, play a playlist, write down the shopping list.
Through the specific apps installed on the smartphone, it is possible to initiate calls or send messages; if you are away from home you can call the speaker directly, and calls can be made between speakers installed in different homes even without a mobile phone.
Then there are the connections with other smart devices, from appliances to light bulbs, from TV to the temperature control system.
Furthermore, it is possible to program “Routines”, or custom rules to make the device perform a series of actions with a single command. For example, turn on the lights every day at the same time and play a playlist; turn off the lights, lower the blinds and set the alarm before going to sleep and so on.
Everything depends on the compatibility of the communication protocols, which can be different. For this reason, before purchasing, it is important to inform yourself about which products are compatible with the speaker we have chosen.
Amazon or Google?
The two giants of the web are the first to arrive on the market with their devices, and at this moment the largest market share is shared.
Amazon and Google are also the first to have developed the software in Italian, so I will briefly mention these, leaving out the other systems, like Apple’s HomePod, just to mention the most famous.
Amazon is the first to have realized the potential of smart speakers, presenting its smart speaker Echo with voice assistant Alexa in 2015.
Google launched its Google Home with Google Assistant software only a year and a half later. Today both companies offer different models on the market:
- beyond specific performance and prices (there are dozens of reviews on the net) that are constantly evolving, I would like to specify which external devices can be connected to the two systems in the field of home automation.
For this I leave you two links to specialized sites that have compiled the most recent lists:
Alexa (Amazon) and Google Home.
Surely the lists will not be exhaustive and above all, definitive. The IoT world or the Internet of things is in continuous and rapid evolution: who knows what technological marvels I will be talking to you in a year?