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    Are you taking control of your smart home in the most convenient way? 

    We’ve all been there. Wet hands. Full arms. Juggling five things at once. Sometimes, pressing a button on a device can feel way more complicated than it needs to be. Sure, it may sound like a dramatic, first-world problem, but the reality is there are just faster, easier and far more convenient ways of living in 2022. 
     

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    Voice control platforms are one of the most successful innovations in the IoT world, offering a hands-free way to control the things that matter to you. In fact, more than 50% of internet households in the UK now own a Smart Assistant. 

    If you’re interested in adding voice commands to your smart home, this article is for you. We’ll explore the benefits of smart home voice commands and how it can take your dream home experience to the next level. 
     

    Sonos speaker

    What is Smart Home Voice Control?

    Smart home voice control gives users the freedom to control devices around their home when they may be otherwise occupied. Using a common network, a smart assistant like Apple Homekit can control each device individually. All you need to activate them are natural voice commands. 

    Using integrated connections, households can introduce a smart speaker such as the Amazon Alexa to control devices. From home cinemas, thermostats and lights, to locks and security appliances. You can control your home with ease - Alexa, turn on the lights!

    So how does it work?  

    Voice-activated devices record a user’s audio commands, once the wake word has been spoken. Recordings are then sent to remote servers for immediate translation and activation. This process is called Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR). 

    Modern smart speakers are often onboarded with a software process known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). This is designed to process text to understand meaning. Our everyday dialect is filled with colloquialisms, regional terminologies and abbreviations. Using AI and machine learning, NLP helps to analyse natural languages to drive accurate outputs. It’s the single element that makes Siri and Alexa so precise.

    Smart speaker

    Which Elements of Smart Home Automation can be Voice Controlled?

    From microwaves to doors, there are a huge range of home devices that can be controlled with a voice user interface. The growing demand for voice controlled products has driven new innovative uses for this technology, extending to a wide range of compatible devices. 

    Control4 have partnered with the world’s leading brands and products to enable users to create a seamless ecosystem of technology within their homes. By introducing Control4, devices in the home can be controlled using voice commands, that otherwise wouldn’t have this function.

    The potential applications of voice controlled technology these days are unlimited. Below, we’ve listed some of the most popular uses of voice activation in smart homes across the UK. 

    Sound Systems

    Home surround sound systems from producers like Sonos are one of the most compatible devices with Smart Assistants. Sure, every Google Home will be able to play music, but the quality is nowhere near as pristine as a fully-integrated, centralised audio system. 

    Using natural voice commands, users will be able to control volume, playlists, or even more specific controls to shape the sound of their music, such as treble and bass. Plus, it’s an incredibly straightforward and quick integration to set up. Any half decent surround sound system will be able to seamlessly pair with your voice assistant for immediate control and audio playback.

    black speaker

    Smart Lighting
    Light control solutions from manufacturers like Lutron and Philips Hue allow the owner to customise the ambience within their home using their voice.
     
    While these systems are more commonly controlled using sleek keypads installed into the walls of the home, more homes than ever are moving towards voice control activation for more convenient, hands-free lighting design.
     
    Connecting Lutron lighting to a smart voice control service such as Google Assistant is simple. The Connect app allows you to turn all lights on or off, as well as selecting specific rooms and changing colours or dimming. All you need to do is use simple commands like “Ok Google, dim the lights by 25%”. 
     
    Y2Mate.is - Lutron RadioRa2 Voice Control Demo-4TCXfJQyAH8-1080p-1651069530215
    Heating & Air Conditioning
    Smart home heating solutions like Heatmiser’s Neo technology offer smart home owners multi-zone control over radiators and underfloor heating. Not only can this technology improve home energy efficiency, when paired with natural voice commands, the heating and cooling user experience becomes far easier and more convenient. 

    Homeowners no longer need to rely on ugly thermostat dials jutting out from walls, or confusing boiler control setups. With smart heating voice control connected to a Smart Assistant, simply use commands for full, multi-zone temperature with ease, on a room-by-room basis.
     
    For example: 

    “Ok Google, set the temperature in the living room to 23 degrees”
    “Ok Google, turn off the heating in the basement”
    “Ok Google, turn off all thermostats”
    “Ok Google, what’s the temperature in the kitchen?”
    "Ok Google, what’s the set temperature in the living room?”

    Sure, voice control might not be the most informed way of heating your home, but that’s not really its job. Like everything voice activated, it simply adds extra connectivity (and convenience) to an already feature rich solution. 
     
    Y2Mate.is - Smart Control of your Heating & Hot Water - Heatmiser Neo-uak9FGzSEpU-720p-1651070176446
    Lutron Curtains & Blinds
    Voice activated curtain and blind technology is one of the more popular additions to the modern smart home - and it’s easy to understand why. With a bedroom smart speaker, users can trigger their blinds to rise or fall from the comfort of their bed, without lifting a finger.

    The wellbeing benefits of this technology extend beyond just comfort. With whole-home shading and Smart Assistant integration, users can maximise the amount of natural light in their homes. This can improve productivity in the daytime, sleep quality in the darker hours and boost mental wellness in its most natural form. You’ll find everything you need to know about smart lighting and wellbeing, here.
     

    blinds

    Is Voice Technology Secure?

    With any intelligent, Ai or voice controlled appliance, there’s always room for concern over data privacy and GDPR law. While Smart Assistants are generally perceived to be a secure technology, there’s never any guarantee for full privacy. Like other smart devices, it’s essential that users follow basic cybersecurity guidelines to ensure their data is protected.

    Concerns are rife over whether listening devices such as smart speakers are always listening to us. The short answer is yes, this technology is always passively listening, waiting to be activated by its wake word, like ‘Ok Alexa’ or ‘Hey Google’. 

    Although, there's a method in this madness. Without saying the outlined wake word, the device shouldn’t gather information or record anything - though this is only outlined on major models from known brands. We would strongly advise against choosing a Smart Assistant from an unrecognised manufacturer.

    Smart home devices can also allow you to perform tasks involving sensitive information like buying a product from Amazon. Naturally, there’s always going to be a small element of risk attached to this. There have been many instances of children using the family Alexa to spend money online. It’s crucial that these features are only accessible to the owner of the device using voice pin codes or Multi-Factor Authentication on the connected Amazon/Google Home app.

    Some precautions are already in place to protect Smart Assistant x Security System integration customers from being vulnerable to more physical security breaches. For Amazon Echo owners, the technology won’t allow users to control alarm systems, locks or other security devices without a voice pincode. This will protect your home from external threats and human error. In short, it is essential to do your research and speak to your installer about what is being done to protect your privacy when it comes to voice technology.
     

    Smart speaker blue

    Considerations 

    Many aspects of smart home technology are available off the shelf for the everyday person to install, but be careful what you buy into. 
     
    Many have managed to introduce smart speakers to their home on a low budget, though this only offers a glimpse into the full smart home package. To get the most out of your smart home technology, it’s best to opt for professional installation, to enable everything to work in harmony.
     
    Not to mention, going through a trusted installer will ensure that your smart devices are ultra-secure - both from a physical and data security point of view. A confident installer will understand how to personalise your voice control to suit your individual needs. They can design a system that strengthens your home security, rather than one that opens the door to nasty breaches or cybersecurity threats.
     
    Smart home technology is only continuing to develop and expand. Setting up the basics within your home will create endless convenience for the right now, whilst also offering a foundation to add to in the future if you so wish.
     

    Kitchen

    Ready to Upgrade your Home?

    Smart home technology is a great investment which can turn your home into the perfect living space for your family. Installing smart home devices is only the first step. To get the most out of the technology and your budget, it's really important to understand how the devices can integrate, to get the most from the experience.

    The entire premise behind smart home technology is to add extra lifestyle convenience to the home. To free up time. To make life simpler. We can help move your home towards this future. 

    At the Chris Lewis Group, we’ve been a leading smart designer and installer for over ten years. Our expert engineers have been trusted by South East homeowners to work on a portfolio of properties. From fascinating period projects to everyday family homes looking to bring their properties into 2022. 

    Get in touch with our design experts today:

    Submit the below form and we will get back to you very shortly

    Tom Clarke
    I design, specify and support clients during new installations, system upgrades and ongoing support of their Smart Technology – even if we were not part of the original commissioning. My background is high-end Hi-fi systems but due to the bespoke multi-discipline offerings from our partners, suppliers and manufacturers, I pride myself on a personal and practical service that turns complex systems into simple recommended solutions.