Voice control realizes communication between humans and devices through language. That is, we can talk with devices to get corresponding services, making device control more intelligent and convenient.
In smart homes, the basic requirement for voice control is to have a virtual assisted AI platform that can be accessed through a smart home device like a phone or smart speaker. Common voice assistant platforms on the market include Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Samsung Bixby, and Microsoft Cortana. Generally, we can interact with smart home devices that support these platforms and receive the corresponding service, enabling hands-free requests, reminders, and other simple tasks simply by speaking. For example, you can use simple voice commands to control all of your Kasa Smart devices at home or remotely hands-free with any Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice assistant on your Kasa Smart app.
If a device wants to talk with us, it needs at least three abilities: listening, understanding, and answering, similar to the abilities of our ears, brains, and mouths, respectively. The realization of these is based on many advancements in tech. Broadly speaking, the combination of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Text to Speech (TTS) enables devices to provide various voice services simply through voice commands.
ASR has become a very common technology that enables a device to “listen” to us. You may have already experienced this technology when you use Siri on an iPhone. It allows devices to convert voice signals into corresponding texts or commands through the process of recognition and understanding, thereby processing a speaker’s voice instructions.
Think of NLP as a brain, which is responsible for thinking, information processing, and solving the problem of “understanding.” It analyzes the meaning through various technologies including lexical, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, sentence analysis technology, etc.—all based on big data and complex algorithms. Due to the complexity of human languages, NLP has plenty of room to still cover when it comes to AI being able to understand natural language more accurately.
Contrary to ASR, TTS converts corresponding texts to understandable voices, enabling a device to “answer” us. It also has a wide range of applications in our lives, such as e-reading, car voice navigation, bank and hospital numbering systems, traffic announcements, etc. But at the current level, it is relatively rigid in tone change and emotional expression. Making devices have natural, emotional, and expressive voices is still a major difficulty.
How Voice Control Benefits Smart Homes
As more and more devices are brought to our homes, we hope to control them effortlessly, and Voice Control has made this come true, making our life much easier and helping to boost convenience and efficiency. From TVs to light bulbs, most manually controlled appliances can now be controlled by voice.
If you want to watch a certain movie on TV, you only need to say the name of the movie and it’ll play directly on it. It’s no longer necessary searching all available channels or online streaming platforms before playing. If you feel cold when you wake up at night, you can also tell the thermostat to raise the temperature of the house a few degrees. It’s now increasingly popular to use voice control over traditional user interfaces like keypads, touch panels, and smartphones as the preferred method of controlling smart devices at home.
For most people, the voice control of home appliances seems to be an optional feature, but it may be necessary for those who have difficulty with manual operation or for children who are not tall enough to press the switch. It even comes to the rescue in cases like the doorbell ringing while you’re in the middle of something, or when you want some more light but your hands are full.
Also, since voice control is simple, easy-to-use and even necessary for some, more and more users are willing to use smart home devices with this feature. This has opened up more Internet of Things (IoT) devices to enter the smart home field. Now many IT giants have successfully entered the smart home market by combining voice control with smart home devices.
Here’s a quick list of what’s happening today: Google has launched Google Home and deploys its smart home community trying to build an Android system in the IoT area; Apple’s HomeKit smart home platform continues to strengthen the integration with Siri; and the Echo smart speaker uses Amazon’s Alexa voice technology. With the increasing investment in the field of voice interaction, voice control technology is further improving—ultimately helping smart homes become more intelligent and leading to many new lifestyles.
As the most natural and direct way to interact with others, voice control make smart homes truly smart. With the progress of AI and intelligent voice technology, people are becoming more adept to voice interaction and are full of expectations for further development and progress. It’s not difficult to imagine a brand new smart lifestyle arising as smart homes integrate voice control. Sooner or later, it’ll be natural chatting with your smart home devices.