How does a voice control system work? And, why do you need one?
• 5 minute read
Voice control systems are the new ‘hot gadget.’ They give you the ability to interact with your home, order groceries, switch on a specific song or even ask about cooking instructions, without ever having to turn on a computer or open your phone. They are the perfect embodiment of a futuristic lifestyle: convenience, technology and simplicity.
These systems are still relatively new tech, and while the adverts would have us believe that no house should be without them, people are still a little wary.
So, for those of you out there who are still a little on the unsure side, here is our handy ‘how to guide’ to tell you everything you need to know about Voice Control Systems.
What is a voice control system?
The concept of a voice control system is fairly simple. It is a device plugged that plugs into your internet and recognizes your voice. You can ask it questions and control other smart devices. It is basically the hands-free internet.
Imagine you are cooking a complex dish, using a recipe off your phone/computer/tablet. There are many steps, your hands are covered with flour and butter, you are whisking and stirring simultaneously. Suddenly your device goes to sleep…the frustration, rushing around, trying to wash your hands, using your chin to enter the passcode. Pretty much everyone has experienced this at some point, but with a voice control system this situation suddenly becomes a thing of the past. You can cook and ask the system to read you the recipe, even ask it to repeat steps; you have essentially got your very own sous-chef.
The voice control system is a personal helper, whose only purpose is to make your life easier.
How do they work?
Most of us will have experienced the torture that is the automated call centre. Yelling into your phone “Tuesday! Number 5! No!” only to be informed they cannot understand you. When people hear ‘voice control system’, this is exactly what they imagine. And, they couldn’t be further from the truth.
These are highly efficient pieces of technology, calibrated to recognize your own unique speech patterns and accents. You connect them to the internet and they will be able to understand you. The internal computer will then listen to you chatting away, waiting for the specific voice command that precedes your request, for example “Hey, Siri” with the iPhone. This will alert Siri that you are about to ask a question and then it will carry out what follows: “Hey, Siri, play my party playlist.”
Of course, there are certain limitations, however, as the technology continues to develop it begins to learn (watch out, here AI comes!). To the point where eventually your voice control system should be able to make you suggestions based on daily habits, schedule doctor’s appointments based on biometrics and order groceries autonomously based on the time of year. While this may sound a little invasive for some, for others this is the epitome of the future, a completely autonomous smart home!
Are they private?
One concern people have about voice control systems is that they are not private. If you think about it, in order for the system to work it does have to be listening to everything you say, it will then be able to pick up its activation phrase. To be honest this does sound a little too much like ‘Big Brother is always watching,’ and it is a little bit true.
These systems have access to everything, from private photos to credit card information, and because they are technology they could be hacked. However, you have to remember if these devices become easily hackable then the entire technology will be dead, it is in these companies interests to ensure that your information remains as private as possible. They employ complex encryption systems and are constantly on the lookout for spyware.
So, while nothing is ever 100% secure a voice command system has similar levels of protection to your computer or smart phone.
How should I choose one?
With so many products on the market consumers are in danger of getting information overload. Of course, the simplest solution is to choose from the two big hitters, Amazon Echo AKA Alex or IPhone AKA Siri. Both are tried and tested and have a proven track record, plus their advertising is pretty eye catching.
However, there are plenty of other options coming onto the market. Unfortunately, the only real answer here is to do a bit of research. Consider your internet speed, your price range, how much you will use the systems and whether or not you are an avid Amazon user! At the moment, the prices of these systems are not prohibitively expensive so if you do make a wrong choice it is possible to do a bit of experimenting.
On a final note, smart homes are the way of the future and whether or not voice control systems do end up being the tech of the future we can at least say you will have a great time experimenting with them and getting to know your home!
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