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Controlling smart devices used to be a click, swipe or a touch away. Now consumers can use their voice. I love Siri and I think Alexa has probably made me look smarter or more organized than I really am more than once. I can literally think out loud and it’s being productive, not just talking to myself. You can’t hate on that…unless of course you’re desperately trying to find directions after dark and all of a sudden Cortana can’t understand the perfectly clear (yet frustrated) questions you’re asking. We won’t spend a lot of time on that though because more often than not these virtual besties are more of a help than anything. Often times funny questions and requests for a favorite song are the game of the day and that’s all well and good, but could we be using these voice activated technologies for more? Can I adult better with help from these virtual assistants?
I think I can and so can you. Many homeowners are choosing voice commands as their chosen method of interacting with IoT devices and there are so many different options out there depending on what your families preferences and needs are. With the explosion of connected lifestyles, voice activated technologies have become a popular method of communicating with mobile and connected devices. In fact, according to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, 36 percent of smartphone owners use a virtual assistant daily and 30 percent use smart home technology on a daily basis. And the number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors are expected to increase 200 percent to 46 billion in 2021, according to Juniper Research. I know we are a very connected family and for the most part it’s positive. We sometimes have to find balance for the use of electronics and real personal interaction, but I can also keep track of my kids easier and communicate with customers, friends, and family so the pros for us outweigh any of the cons.
A lot of this is just making our regular daily tasks simpler and more convenient. Voice control technology is now used for everything from thermostats and appliances to connected cars and personal assistants. I can adjust my thermostat on the go if I ran out of the house five minutes late again and I can set parental controls on my car so my teen can’t go over a certain speed or start the vehicle between certain hours.
Popular Voice Activated Devices On The Market Today
Probably the most popular home assistants this past holiday are the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot. The devices stream music and use natural language to handle a number of pre-programmed tasks like alarms, lists, weather, music and traffic. Amazon Echo or Echo Dot both feature Alexa, the cloud-connected Artificial Intelligence (AI), that will answer questions based on Wikipedia and can be engaged with simple voice commands. The Amazon Echo also allows you to connect to other popular brands, like Samsung SmartThings, Honeywell, iHome and Phillips.
If you’re a google fan, Google Home is likely going to be your cup of tea. It functions similar to the Amazon Echo using voice activation and cloud-connected AI. You can have just one unit or connect several throughout the house and the beauty of the Google Home is that you can play the same thing throughout your entire home or if everyone has different tastes, every room of the house can have something different going on. Google Home can multi task like that!
Other Useful Voice Activated Devices
To keep track of activity in and around your home, check out Samsung SmartThings like the Motion Sensor, Water Leak Sensor and Arrival Sensor. All can be voice-controlled through Amazon Echo, to keep track of activity in the home whether you are there or not. The Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear if you’re and Andoid user, makes staying connected to people and information, tracking daily activity, measuring workouts and monitoring health all possible from the user’s wrist. I like having all of that information so accessible – it keeps me accountable and sometimes I need that!
Those without an in-car Bluetooth system or that just prefer a certified HD voice for full, natural sound, the super affordable Plantronics Explorer 500 is a great way to stay hands-free while driving. In many states, for good reason, hands free is the only way to be legal and still use your handheld devices. Voice control is becoming even more important to ensure you’re being safe, and not breaking any laws while still allowing users to listen to music, get directions and answer calls. Plantronics Explorer works with Siri (IOS), Google Now (Android) and Cortana (Microsoft).
How U.S. Cellular Can Help With Voice-Activated Devices
As this trend of voice-activated devices grows, U.S. Cellular is here to make the new technology simpler and less overwhelming for their customers, whether they’re interested in the latest device, consumer products, or connected home devices. They offer free Device Workshops for the entire community, including those who are not U.S. Cellular customers, providing a great opportunity to learn more about the many features of today’s smart devices – including those controlled by voice. If you’re not sure what would benefit you, it’s as easy as checking with your U.S. Cellular representative and they can assist in finding the right voice activated device for you.
What’s your favorite voice activated device and how do you use it in your daily life? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!