Voice. It’s the ultimate way to interact with smart home products. You just speak your mind and your home listens, thanks to products like Amazon Echo and its Alexa voice assistant technology. The Echo and Dot listen and pass along your wishes to products including light switches and thermostats to garage door openers and complete home automation and security systems. Here are 10 things we think you should ask Alexa, and the products to make it happen. Of course, on their own the Echo, Dot, and Tap devices can access streaming music services and information when you ask for the latest news or a favorite song, but the following tips build on these basic, out-of-box capabilities, giving you hands-free control over just about every aspect of your household.
“Alexa, lock the front door.” You’re all tucked in when you remember that you left the front door unlocked. No problem. Stay right where you are and tell Alexa to lock the August Smart Lock that’s been installed in place of the standard lock on your front door. Maybe before you lock it you should check to see if someone had already taken care of it. You can ask Alexa to report if the lock is unlocked or locked.
“Alexa, turn on the hall lamp.” It’s the middle of the night and you’re craving a snack. There’s no need to fumble in the dark for a light switch to find your way down the hall. Instead, ask Alexa to turn on the lamp that’s plugged into TP-Link Smart Plug Mini.
“Alexa, turn down the heat to 68 degrees.” Thermostats have become increasingly smarter over the years, even to the point of learning your habits and self-adjusting according to them. However, there are times, like when you’re hosting a party or simply feel unusually cold or warm, when adjusting the thermostat on a whim makes more sense. Here’s when you can tell Alexa to alter the settings of an Alexa-enabled thermostat like the ecobee3 adjust the thermostat on a whim.
“Alexa, close the garage door.” Again, it’s one of those nightly chores you sometimes forget to do before hitting the pillow. In addition to locking the front door via a voice command you do the same to close a Garageio garage door opener. Your voice can also open the door.
“Alexa, dim the living room lights.” Dim lighting is ideal for watching movies, intimate evenings, or just plain relaxing. With a system like the Caseta from Lutron, you can dim the lights without leaving the couch. Really, you can get the lights to do just about anything … all by issuing a simple voice command.
“Alexa, water the lawn.” You look outside and realize that the grass is parched. Rather than go to the panel in the garage that runs your sprinkler system to activate the watering cycle, just ask Alexa. The Rachio smart sprinkler controller will listen. When the lawn has been quenched, just tell Alexa to stop the Rachio system.
“Alexa, increase the ceiling fan speed to 75 percent.” An instant cooling effect happens when you talk to the Haiku fan through Alexa—perfect after a long run. Manufactured by Big Ass Solutions, the Haiku fan respond to your request to increase (or decrease) the fan speed, as well as to adjust the intensity of its built-in light, like when you want to meditate or watch a movie.
“Alexa, ask Neato to start cleaning.” Robotic vacuums are already easy to control, but the Neato Botvac takes it one step further by incorporating Alexa. Should you get a phone call and or just need a moment of peace and quiet, “Alexa, ask Neato to pause cleaning” does the trick. You can keep doing what you’re doing and control the vac hands-free.
“Alexa, go to CNN.” No longer do you have to grab a remote to change the channel. The Hopper DVR from Dish works with Alexa, so you use your voice to navigate through Dish’s electronic programming guide and on-demand content. Or, if you know that you’re in the mood for a comedy or a specific show, just ask Alexa to go there immediately. It’s truly effortless channel surfing.
“Alexa, turn on my house.” Up until this point in our list of suggestions, Alexa has been used to control individual products. By investing in a complete home control system, like those manufactured by Control4, one voice command can control multiple products—at the same time. For example, an “Alexa, turn on bedtime,” could tell the Control4 system to launch a string of commands to turn off lights, set back thermostats, lock doors, and close window shades, for example.
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Want your shades lowered? Do it in seconds from a smartphone. Not sure if you locked the door when you left the house or left the garage door open? Again, it’s as easy as pressing a button on your smartphone.
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