Amazon Develops a One-Stop Smart Home Interface

Amazon has now joined the smart home market race with its Amazon Echo-a voice activated Bluetooth speaker.
Published: Mon 13 Apr 2015

Before now, Amzon's US$199 smart device was merely a speaker which could also duplicate some functions of Siri, a part of Apple Inc.'s iOS which works as a personal assistant and knowledge navigator. Now, the voice-controlled speaker and smart assistant is able to wirelessly control a variety of smart appliances that work with Belkin's WeMo and Philips' Hue connected home systems.

Foundation of Amazon's smart home plans

Not only does this clever device stream music from the cloud and provide weather updates, it also responds to voice commands. Echo supports products from WeMo (products can be used control anything from coffeemakers to irons to electric fans) and Philips Hue which is at the forefront of smart lighting. These are major players, and they form the foundation of Amazon’s ambitious smart home aspirations.

Echo operates with technologies such as WeMo Switch and Insight Switch, which are plugged into an outlet to provide limited control over household appliances. This means that the device will communicate voice prompts or commands to the relevant appliance. For instance, you can dim your home’s lights by simply asking the device.

Set-up is straightforward and as long as all smart home products are on the same Wi-Fi network as Echo and these have been identified appropriately in their respective applications, one can request that Echo discovers or locates appliances. Once done, Echo is ready for action.

Seamless, one-stop smart home interface

While it is possible to control WeMo and Philips Hue devices through smartphone applications, Echo offers a potentially seamless, one-stop smart home interface. And this will be possible without having to search for your phone.

There’s also ample opportunity for Echo to advance that end even further, according to Forrester Research connected home analyst Frank Gillett. “Amazon has the unique advantage that the Amazon Echo can suggest—or eventually be certified to work with—the products they sell on their home automation page,” That page features thousands of items and thousands of items, most of which are potential partners.

There are concerns though- Amazon Echo only supports connection via Wi-Fi which may limit options and speed of response for connecting some connected smart home products.