The Joy of Speaking to Your Home
The I/O (input / output) of the smart home can be as simple as an app on your phone. These include great apps like the SmartThings app or the Alexa app. There are certainly times when it is convenient to interact with your smart home through these apps. But the real convenience comes when you connect a smart speaker to the system and can start issuing verbal commands like:
Alexa, turn the basement lights off.
Alexa, turn the temperature up by two degrees.
Alexa, dim the family room lights to 20 percent.
Alexa, make dinner.
Ok, that last one was just made up. But the first one was my primary motivation for starting my smart home project. It seems that kids just love to leave the lights on in the basement!
Smart Speaker Options
Smart speakers come in all shapes and sizes from the Amazon, Google, Apple, and probably others. Amazon seems to have the lead right now with the proliferation of the Echo devices and Alexa. But Google has some good options too. Right now, Apple seems a bit behind and pricey. Which one you select is probably a function of what ecosystem you are already in.
When I started my smart home, Amazon had the lead and there were very few choices, so I built my system on Echo devices and Alexa. I have been very happy with it, especially with how affordable Echo Dots are. Here are links to several options for smart speakers: