Slowly but surely, Amazon Alexa – the voice-recognition platform behind Amazon Echo – is adding native support to more smart devices. First it was lights, then thermostats, now smart fans.
The ceiling-fan driver should be available to the public in April, according to Big Ass Fans, which “spearheaded all efforts with Amazon on this integration,” says BAF spokesperson Rachel Sawyer. “Initially, we reached out to Amazon about creating this integration and worked with them exclusively to get this on the market.”
BAF, which offers the IP-controllable Haiku smart fan, as well as smart LED lights and, in the future,connected HVAC systems, is expected to be the first to implement native Amazon Echo voice-control for fans, beginning in May.
“We brought to the table over a year of research from our SenseME [IP control] technology as well as our Rolodex of beta testers,” says Sawyer of the development of the product.
Since SenseME was introduced in 2014, compatible fans have been integrated with a few third-party cloud-enabled devices such as Jawbone’s UP fitness trackers and Nest thermostats.
The company’s consumer-oriented Haiku ceiling fans with SenseME feature built-in temperature, humidity and occupancy sensors for automatic speed adjustments; however, with simple voice control, users will be able to override the auto-pilot simply by telling Alex to “Set fan to 4” or some such thing.
After all, when you return home from a jog, who has the energy to track down the fan controls for a quick cool-down? And don’t you just want to tell your ceiling fan to stop spinning when you wake up to the chilly air?
“Voice control cuts down the number of steps required by the user to get what they need, and in the long run, that will lead to broader adoption of the connected home,” says Landon Borders, director of connected devices, Haiku Home.
Big Ass Fans demonstrated Amazon Echo integration at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, but only for lighting controls. Neither thermostats nor fans were supported by Alexa at the time.
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She’s a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif.