I've been adding a bunch of smart home devices to my home. It's part of an ongoing experiment to see what I can do to make my life easier, my home safer and to save some money on power bills. But I'm finding that I keep hitting some roadblocks. And while I do hit the odd technical roadblock, I'm finding that the biggest problems stem from the intransigence of vendors.
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In the fight between Google, Amazon and Apple to take control of your home, there are some clear battle-lines being drawn. Over the last week, I've been using The Amazon Echo - a cylindrical speaker and microphone array that responds to my voice to do all sorts of interesting things. Here's my journey so far and how it fits into my quest to assemble an array for smart home devices that will make my home operate more smoothly.
A major battle is taking place in the world of tech. On one side, there's Amazon - the online shopping juggernaut that now provides the world with a massive portion of its cloud computing needs as well as lots of other associated products and services. On the other there's Google - the search engine that has shifted into becoming a major provider of cloud services as well as dominating online advertising.
The two are also clashing over control of the next generation of tech for the home. As a result, Amazon has pulled sales of the Nest range of smart home accessories from its store.
Sonos has been, arguably, the leader when it comes to high quality, multi-room sound. And while a lot of their kit costs a pretty penny, they have always justified their high prices by offering awesome sound quality. But the Sonos One is a new frontier for the Santa Barbara-based company. As well as delivering great sound, it's the company's first foray into the world of smart speakers. I've been road testing the Sonos One for a couple of weeks. Here's what I've learned.
Smart home technology has found its way in many of today's households, meaning it's time to learn to code for this booming platform. With the Amazon Alexa Coding Bundle, you can capitalize on the success of Amazon's smart home tech by building your own voice-activated applications.
The Amazon Echo is useful to have around the home. It can play podcasts, take reminders and notes, tell you the length of your commute, even control other appliances in your house. But it's unavailable in Australia, and importing it is an expensive proposition if you're not sure you'll use it. Good news though, you can make a fully-functional one using a Raspberry Pi.