An interesting/surprising article on smart speakers


This surprised me a bit, but it does mesh with my own experience. I have an echo in my living room, an echo dot in my bedroom, and I use Homekit for most of my house. I really can’t stand using voice commands. It frequently ends up being more work than just picking up my phone and using the interface there. I really tend to only use voice commands to get Alexa to play Spotify playlists in my living room.

What do you think? Are you using your smart speakers for control? And don’t worry…Sense is not planning a smart speaker :grin:


I don’t use it like I thought. I just can’t remember the specific phrases I have to say. For example, Alexa can adjust my smart thermostat, but I can never for the life of me remember the phrase to use to get her to do it. The only thing we actually do use is to have her adjust the level of our lights because that’s easy… “Alexa turn the lights up to 80%”. Otherwise, I never know what she’s expecting to hear and just use the phone.


We use voice commands with our Echo and Dot devices to control our home automation. While my wife and I both have iPhones we never touch HomeKit. That said… if we have company I tend to not use the voice commands as I still feel dorky doing it. :joy:

Some of the things we use voice commands for not related to normal Alexa commands…

  • Turn on/off lights in a room or outside. Includes ‘panic’ mode scenes if we ever thought we were bring broken into.
  • Set a brightness value in a room with dimmers.
  • Arm the home alarm (disarm specifically not allowed)
  • Taking a shower (turns on lights and vent fan in bathroom). When done a reverse command turns off the lights then turns off the fan in 5 minutes.
  • Turn on/off the TV/Xbox/Netflix via Logitech Harmony Hub
  • Turn to TV channels
  • Close garage doors
  • Set temperatures on thermostats
  • Remote start the truck


Same as @scorp508. We use voice commands almost exclusively, unless we have company. Rarely touch a switch or remote. Run whole-home, multi-zone audio through Google home linked to Chromecasts. Even turn on/off our water heater on demand.

We’ve got an ecobee for a thermostat, and like our rachio watering system it’s basically self driven so we never touch it or ask for adjustments… Maybe occasionally in the winter. A degree one way or another makes a huge difference in consumption so it’s pretty much left alone.


My two uses for voice control.

  • Alexa - for playing music via Sonos - “Play pop music in the kitchen”
  • Siri - for opening and closing the garage door when I’m out with my bike.
    The real challenge is that all the Alexa skills or Siri require incredibly specific command syntax.


Amazon echo vs human who’s faster


I like the garage door idea - what interface or device sits between your garage door opener and siri?


Chamberlain garage door opener with MyIQ Wi-Fi interface, plus a Chambelain HomeKit bridge (to allow my three garage doors to be Apple HomeKit controlled). Once it is on HomeKit you can specify naming for Siri.

I’m sure there is a comparable path on the Android and Alexa side, but I like the convenience when I’m biking out to simply tell Siri to “close the left garage door” via my watch. The only sticking point is network transitions - I have to either get the remote open or close completely done before or after I am connected to my home WiFi. If a Siri/HomeKit action starts on cellular digital, it has to complete on cellular digital. Same for WiFi. The garage door activation takes a second or two to complete so occasionally I split the action and it fails.


I use a GoControl Z-Wave garage door controller, which is then joined to my Z-Wave network managed by HomeSeer which ties into Alexa for voice control.


Thanks @scorp508 and @kevin1 for the details on the garage opener. I now remember my challenge with this (I did in fact research this a few years ago but had forgotten)…I have garage doors that are side-to-side sliders and not up-and-overs. Therefore it is a challenge to detect the open and closed states.


Not sure detecting open / closed is that hard but finding a smart opener for a sliding garage door is ! I just Googled and there aren’t many options for sliding openers. There are smart controller options for swing out doors that would be Siri-able.


Hmm. Most of the smart openers do use a tilt switch. Perhaps there is a way to mount one affixed to a small bracket on a pivot that is depressed when the door closes. Normally I’d say use a simple magnetic reed switch sensor but the openers tend to be mated to their own in-package sensor.


I do dig the garage door idea. I don’t remember if it was on here where I got the idea, but I also use Siri to turn my lights on/off when working on my bicycles so I don’t get the phone or light switches all grimey.

I definitely think that, as this tech improves, my relationship with it will improve as well. Sort of like Sense for a lot of people (and I wasn’t even thinking about our founders’ work in voice recognition when I wrote this). I just hate having to remember exactly what to say to Alexa, or speaking slowly and clearly for Siri. My wife certainly doesn’t like when I check the weather from bed at 6AM…“ALEXA, WHAT’S THE WEATHER. ALEXA, STOP ALARM” :rofl:


I’m part of the 6% and find voice control all I use anymore. If you take the time to set up groups and give them unique names in the Alexa app that Alexa will not confuse with individual light names it works really well even when my 2 years does it. For example I have 3 lights in my kitchen that have kitchen in there names. It’s a pain to ask Alexa 3 times to turn on all the light but once I made a group and named it kitchen lights now I just say Alexa “turn on the kitchen lights” adding the word lights was key as if it’s just kitchen she will say more then one device uses that name what one did you want. I found adding the word lights made for the most natural phrase


Absolutely the way to go. Once Amazon allowed you to Alexify a group by adding the Alexa device itself to the group membership it made the voice interface far more natural. Simply asking to “turn on the lights” no matter what room I’m in is great. Well, great as long as the proper Alexa device hears it. :grin:


We used them some when installed. However, now we have disabled both of ours. Simply cannot trust them. Amazon, Google, et al already have too much data without us voluntarily allowing them to listen into all of our private lives. Into the bin with them!


I guess there’s this too…:man_shrugging: