What Smart Home Speakers Can Do For You

November 13, 2017

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

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Digital Assistants inside Amazon and Google smart home speakers can help with every-day life and emergencies.  Place a few speakers around the home then use voice commands to tell Alexa (inside Amazon Echo speakers) or Google (inside Google Home speakers) what you need. 

 

 

With simple voice commands, you can tell the Digital Assistant to: 

Call for Help. Call family or friends when you can’t get to a phone.

 

Give you remindersTell you when to take your meds or check the stove.

Manage to do’s.  Put items on your shopping list or appointments in your calendar.

 

Get Info.  Answer questions by searching the web when you can’t get to your computer. 

 

Control Your Home.  Turn lights on and off or lock the doors with a voice command.

 

WHAT YOU NEED

One or more speakers.

 

A WiFi modem connected to home Internet service.

 

A compatible SmartPhone or tablet to run Google Home app.

 

A compatible SmartPhone to set-up and manage Alexa with voice calls functionality. (If voice call function is not required, one can set up Alexa through a compatible tablet or a computer) 

 

For Echo’s only... add 911 calling capabilities in the United States by adding the Echo Connect to a home phone line. It turns the Echo dot into a hands-free speaker for your home phone.  

 

COST  

Amazon Echo Products:  

Echo Dot Speaker $50us, $70cdn

Echo Plus Speaker (To control SmartHome devices)  $150us, $199cdn

Eco Connect  $35us (not available in Canada)

 

For the Google Family of Speakers

Google Home Mini $49us, $79cdn

Google Home (to control SmartHome devices) $129us, $179cdn

Google Home Max (coming soon) $399us (no Canadian pricing)

 

RECOMMENDATION

Choose from Amazon’s Echo speaker product line if you want the option to call 911 (in the United States) or use a computer to manage your assistant. 

 

These two options are not yet available with Google Home.

 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS  

Amazon's Alexa offers a portable Speaker option, great for taking outside, and has over 10,000 skills. Skills is the term for voice apps integrated with digital assistants.

 

Google Assistant needs to catch up on skills but is better at understanding natural language when you ask a wide variety of questions.

 

OPTIONS TO LOOK FOR

Battery powered models (portable; good for patio and backyard).

 

SmartHome controler models (Manage your lights, locks and more with voice commands).

 

Display screen models (Video calls can help when its hard to hear on a regular phone call).

 

The different skills (voice apps) available to each Digital Assistant/speaker product line.  There may be something unique that has particular value to you.

DOUBLE CHECK VOICE CALL CAPABILITIES!

The Echo and Google Home speakers cannot place calls to 911 and cannot receive calls.  

 

If you live in the U.S., look for compatible accessory products like Amazon's Echo Connect if you need the ability to call 911 through your SmartHome speaker.

(Echo Connect not yet sold or supported in Canada)

WANT MORE DETAILS?

See related blog posts below or go to the Hub Collections and look at  Guide to SmartHome Speakers or Guide to Dealing with Falls  for a curated set of

  • product model and cost comparisons,

  • shopping checklists,

  • budget planners and more. 

 

Wishing you all the best, 

Janice

 

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