Ac­ces­soriz­ing That Smart Speaker

Sound & Vision - - ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO SMART SPEAKERS -

When a speaker was just a speaker, we never saw lists of the best al­bums that worked with it. But now that speak­ers have be­come smart, we’re in­un­dated with all types of gad­gets that work best with Alexa or one of her com­peti­tors.

It’s al­most as if let­ting a smart speaker into the home serves as a Tro­jan horse that ush­eres in a le­gion of other smart de­vices.

Who knew that the home-au­to­ma­tion rev­o­lu­tion would be com­manded by your voice?

For ex­am­ple, who let in the Furbo Dog Cam­era, the de­vice with con­nected app that lets you see, talk, and even toss treats to your dog when you’re away?

Once you’ve en­abled the voice skill on your Furbo ac­count, you can start toss­ing treats to your dog by say­ing things like:

“Alexa, ask Furbo to toss a treat ev­ery 30 sec­onds for five min­utes.”

“Alexa, ask Furbo to toss a treat ev­ery 30 min­utes be­tween 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

The rub is that the voice com­mand to Alexa must be given or set up when you’re still at home and within shout­ing dis­tance of your speaker. And it has to be the master’s voice giv­ing the com­mand—at least for now.

There are now so many ap­pli­ances that can be voice ac­ti­vated. Af­ter a pop­corn- and chips-fu­eled game night with a few of your messi­est friends, you might want to ut­ter these words: “Alexa, ask Roomba to start clean­ing.” It’s the least you could do—though only af­ter you’ve opened the Alexa app and searched for the irobot Home skill in a one-time setup.

The se­lec­tion of smart de­vices that can be voice con­trolled is mind-bog­gling. There are door locks, cook­ers, elec­tri­cal out­lets, and ther­mostats. TV sets from Sony, Hisense, LG, and Sam­sung (the lat­ter through Sam­sung’s own Bixby plat­form). Light bulbs and fix­tures like the Philips Hue, sound­bars and speak­ers like the Polk Com­mand Bar and the

Bang & Olufsen Beo­play A6, stream­ing de­vices like Google Chrome­cast, and univer­sal re­motes from Log­itech’s Har­mony line. And so much more.

Where it all ends is any­one’s guess. At this year’s CES, Kohler in­tro­duced a col­lec­tion of voice-con­trolled bath­room prod­ucts, in­clud­ing a mir­ror with per­son­al­ized light­ing and stereo speak­ers. And then there was the com­pany’s new toi­let, the Numi, with heated seat, foot warmer, and hands-free con­trol.

“Alexa, ask Kohler to flush the toi­let.”

As Stephen Col­bert quipped, “The one thing my trips to the bath­room were miss­ing was a cloud-con­nected com­puter record­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence and up­load­ing my down­load.”— MA

Nest Smart Ther­mo­stat

Furbo Dog Cam

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