One of the best ways to experience what it’s like to live in a smart home is to see one in action. It’s one thing to read about innovative new technologies like automated lighting, whole-house music, and voice control of home devices; it’s another thing altogether when these electronic marvels can be demonstrated to you in a realistic home setting. Many home systems integrators accomplish this by displaying their smart home wares in a showroom that’s been designed to educate potential clients on their smart home options. Few chose to create the experience in their own personal homes. Nor have many home systems professionals integrated voice control so seamlessly and comprehensively into a home environment.
The Future of Voice Control … Now
It’s an accomplishment that earned Drayton Cook, an electrician at NWE in Calgary, Alberta Canada a 2017 Lutron Excellence Award for Best Integration of Voice Control. “Voice control is where the future of home technology is headed,” Cook says. “And in my home which I use as a showroom of sorts I have pushed the boundaries of what’s capable through voice.”
Using Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri as the voice engine, a complete Lutron RadioRA 2 system, Lutron Sivoia QS shades, Lutron seeTemp thermostats, Sonos system, Nest cameras, Key Digital video distribution, Russound whole-house music system, and even a 10-year-old LG TV can be controlled via simple voice commands.
Echo Dots Deliver Voice Commands to Lutron Systems
The Lutron systems are able to recognize verbal edicts directed to them from several Amazon Echo Dots located throughout the house, as well as from an Apple smartwatch. To weave items like the Russound music system into the voice control ecosystem required the addition of a third-party controller, Cook explains. Together, the Lutron systems and the Key Digital Compass Control system chosen by Cook as that third party controller enables a combination of 97 RadioRA 2 devices, seeTemp thermostats, (a combination of 10 hardwired and four battery-powered Sivoia QS Triathlon shades, and a host of other devices to be operated by verbal commands. Here’s how it works, explains Cook: “The Lutron systems carry out the voice command to their respective shades and lights. When the Compass Control system ‘sees’ these actions happen, it triggers the non-Lutron devices in the house to react.”
Scenes Streamline the Control Process
To streamline the process of issuing voice commands, Cook used the Lutron system to program the various systems and products into “scenes.” This enables users to control multiple devices by uttering a single command rather than launching several individual commands. When the Lutron systems hear “Good morning,” for example, it turns on select lights, opens certain shades, adjusts the thermostat setting, and triggers the Compass Control system which turns on the TVs to the where a slideshow of family photos are displayed. “We don’t have a lot of art on the walls,” says Cook of his newly built home of many floor-to ceiling glass windows, “so the TVs serve as our artwork.”
Other scenes that can be engage via voice include “Morning” “Entertain,” “Movie,” and many more. To ensure that every command is hear clearly, Cook installed several Amazon Echo Dot devices throughout the house, and uses his smartwatch occasionally to issue verbal instructions via Apple Siri. Although voice control is the newest and most engaging form of home management at the moment, Cook made sure include plenty of Lutron keypads for times when it’s just as easy to press a button to activate groups of lights, shades, TVs, and music listening zones.
The Epitome of Voice Control in the Home
By utilizing a variety of smart home systems and Lutron-enabled control schemes, Cook has created a home environment that’s easy for his family to manage and enjoy. As for customers that visit, they can use their own voices to make see all the systems react. “Our voice controlled house is better than any pamphlet at explaining how voice control works,” Cook says.