I’ve always been a fan of the science fiction genre, not just because of the thrilling adventure stories and fantasy locales, but because sci-fi tales so often provide a window into our own possible technological future. Take Star Trek as an example. That show came out in the 1960s, but foretold modern tech we have and use today such as tablet computers, Bluetooth headsets, universal translators, smartphones, and much more. But, perhaps one of my most favourite Star Trek technologies was the ship’s computer, and how the crew could just talk to the thinking machine, and it would understand, speak back to them, and perform all sorts of tasks upon vocal request (although on Trek it was usually a request to start a self-destruct countdown). Today, voice-controlled homes are now a possibility too, thanks to Alexa and Google Home. There’s no self-destruct function (which is probably a good thing), however, let me tell you how these voice-controlled personal assistants can make your life easier.

What is a voice-controlled personal assistant?

Resembling a small speaker, a voice-controlled smart personal assistant is a smart device you can place anywhere in your home. Once it is hooked up and connected to your wi-fi network, you can speak to the device, much as you would with the Siri or Google Assistant on your smartphone.

With the entire wealth of the internet as its brain, your voice-controlled smart assistant can answer questions, give you any info you need, and allow you perfect hands-free access to the online world. But, a voice-controlled assistant can offer so much more, too, when paired with other smart devices. Let’s take a look at the versatility of these devices.

Using a Voice-Activated Assistant Solo

If you are serious about having a voice-controlled home environment, then I would suggest setting up a voice assistant in every major room in the house. Something like the Google Home Mini is fairly inexpensive, and it is well worth it to have that hands-free internet access everywhere possible.

I have a Mini set up in my kitchen, and it is indispensable to me now. I use it to get new recipes, access my Spotify account to stream tunes (the little speaker has a big sound, too!), get the weather forecast, and any number of things. My daughter has the larger Google Home in her bedroom, and she uses it to help with homework, stream music, and control the lights (more on that later).

But, really, the possibilities are endless when it comes to a voice-controlled personal assistant. Keep one in the bathroom (well away from the tub, of course) and let the assistant entertain the kids during bath time with music, stories, or jokes. You know how your kids like to ask a million questions? Why is the sky blue? How many stars are in the sky? Why doesn’t daddy have hair on his head? Y’know, cute non-irritating questions like that? Well, give yourself a break and let Alexa or Google Home try to keep up with their young, inquisitive minds.

But seriously, anything you would normally look up on the internet, you can ask your personal assistant to do the work instead. Anything from the latest news headlines, to traffic, weather, flight information, and more is available just by asking. You can also use the device as a hands-free calculator, dictionary, or translator, as well. These devices have so many uses just on their own, however things get taken up a notch when you pair them with other smart devices.

Using a Voice-Controlled Assistant with Other Devices

The fun really begins when you invest in a few smart devices for your home that are compatible with your voice assistant. As I said earlier, my daughter uses her Google Home to control the Philips Hue light she has in her room, turning it on or off with a voice command, or changing the light’s colour. You can find several bulbs and lighting systems that work seamlessly with Alexa or Google Home, enabling you to fully control the illumination and ambiance in your living spaces, or even set up a lighting schedule so it looks like someone is home while you are away on vacation.

Perfect Temperature with a Voice Command

But, you can control all sorts of things in your home using a voice assistant device. With a connected Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, you can ensure your home is always the ideal temperature. It features seven-day scheduling, plus a geofence location-based temperature control uses your compatible smartphone’s location to know when you’re home or away, adjusting the thermostat to save you energy and money.

 

 

Control your TV with your Voice

We’ve come a long way since the days when we had to get our butts off the couch, schlep over to the set, and turn some dials to change channels or control volume. The advent of the remote control really made life easier for couch potatoes… However, with something like the Google Home & Google Chromecast Ultra combo package, you can simply tell the intelligent speaker what you want to see, and it will cast your favourite flicks, videos, and shows right to your TV.

Control anything with your voice

Really, any electrical device can be turned on or off just by using voice commands if you are using something like the TP-Link Smart Plug. Simply connect the device to the plug (say, something like a non-smart light, or television or whatever), and tell your assistant to turn it on. With a few of these smart wi-fi plugs strategically placed throughout your domicile, you can really take full voice control of your environment.

And, there are plenty of other smart devices out there for you to use with your voice-controlled personal assistant, ranging from home security/alarm systems that you can control from anywhere, cameras, stereos, and more. But, your own voice-controlled home starts with a Google Home or Alexa device, and you can shop for your own voice assistant right now at Best Buy.

 

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Steven Hill
I am an award-winning writer, freelance journalist and blogger who is a self-confessed geek and tech lover. When not playing the latest video games or salivating over the newest gadgets, I enjoy cooking for my family, mountain biking or snowboarding the deep powder on Whistler Mountain.

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