Gadgets:: Amazon Echo, WeMo and lights to control your smart home

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

 

Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask. Echo has seven microphones and beam forming technology so it can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with 360° immersive sound. When you want to use Echo, just say the wake word "Alexa" and Echo responds instantly. If you have more than one Echo or Echo Dot, you can set a different wake word for each—you can pick "Amazon", "Alexa" or "Echo" as the wake word.

The Amazon Echo handsfree voice activated speaker w

orks off the Alexa Voice Service to control smart home features, give weather updates and much to my delight, give updated sport scores upon command.

When you first plug Echo into a power source, a voice directs you to the app (Fire OS, Android, iOS and desktop browsers) and an easy setup. This includes discovering any smart home devices currently being used, which Echo can also control.

According to Amazon, Echo works with smart home devices (sold separately) from WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, Nest, ecobee, and Wink.

Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask. Echo has seven microphones and beam forming technology so it can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with 360° immersive sound. When you want to use Echo, just say the wake word "Alexa" and Echo responds instantly. If you have more than one Echo or Echo Dot, you can set a different wake word for each—you can pick "Amazon", "Alexa" or "Echo" as the wake word.

You log into the app with your existing Amazon account, connect it to Wifi and you’re ready for Alexa to control your life.

I used the Echo for a few days and had it turning on and off lights, starting my coffee maker, reading me my calendar features for the day, adjusting my thermostat and updating me on the news of the day.

Echo comes preloaded as Alexa meaning all commands are started with “Alexa,” but if someone is named Alexa within your household you can change the command name in the app settings.

Whenever you want a command to stop, simply say “Alexa stop.”

It measures 9.25-by-3.27-by-3.27-inches and a top light indicates when you’ve sent Alexa a command. Other features include Bluetooth enabled, seven noise-cancelling microphones to hear commands from any direction and great 360-degree sound.

The microphones works so well, Echo even heard my commands while music was playing in the background from a different source.

Every now and then Alexa got stumped by my commands but as it got used to me the device learned voice, speech patterns and what I’m asking for.

www.Amazon.com $179.99

The Wi-Fi enabled WeMo Insight Switch connects your home appliances and electronic devices to your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to turn devices on or off, program customized notifications and change device status - from anywhere. WeMo Insight Switch can monitor your electronics and will send information about the device’s energy usage directly to your smartphone or tablet. Perfect to pair with space heaters, wall A/C units, TVs, washers, dryers, fans, lights and more.

I used the Belkin home automation WeMo Insight Switch with the Amazon Echo for controlling my coffee maker. On its own it works like many other smart home plugs with a three-prong pass-through outlet.

It can be used to control lights, electronics and small appliances manually from an app or with a set schedule from anywhere via WiFi.

But what got my attention was a feature on the WeMo app that lets you know how much power is being consumed by the connected device along with how much the energy being used will cost.

You can also set it to alert you how long something has been on by sending a message to your Android or iOS smartphone. The WeMo app allows you to work with multiple devices simultaneously.

Belkin suggested you can even use it to find out if the kids are playing video games instead of doing homework. I’m grateful my parents didn’t have a device like this during my youth.

www.belkin.com $49.99

THE ALL NEW ILUMI SMARTBULB Let your lighting be so much more than just light. Let it enhance your life, improve your sleep, complement your mood, ramp up your music and connect your whole home. ilumi is an advanced wireless lighting system in a light bulb, that's easy to install. No boxes, bridges, routers or other complications. Using the free app, you can adjust the color and brightness of your lighting or explore amazing built-in programs to experience lighting like never before. Plus, ilumi lasts up to 20 years and is 5x more energy efficient than a regular bulb.

The ileum app-controlled smart home LED lightbulbs light up a room, change colors and have built in Bluetooth.

They can be controlled to go on or off from an everyday wall switch or more modernly through the ileum app. This allows them to be controlled from anywhere Bluetooth will reach.

The app lets you choose any color to illuminate a room with the touch of a color palette. Lighting can be dimmed for moods, waking up or going to sleep. The smart bulbs are available in standard size ($59.99), and indoor  ($59.99) or outdoor ($69.99) flood versions and do not require WiFi or a hub.

A feature called Vacation Security allows the light to turn on or off randomly while you’re away to give the appearance that your home.

According to ilumi, their bulbs last up to 20 years and are five times more energy efficient than a regular bulb.

http://ilumi.co

Comments are closed.