In with the bricks. The smarthome pioneer adding voicetech as standard

Image: Zapp2Photo /
Alex Stockwell

Hard-wired, voicetech homes are with us but how will they cope with the inevitable evolution of the technology?

An Australian smart building company has started integrating Amazon Alexa-powered devices when building new homes and apartments. But despite voicetech being the preferred means to control gadgets in your home, what happens when it’s time to upgrade?

Alexa’s understanding of natural language and ability to control household devices makes it an ideal choice for upgrading homes with lights, heating, cameras, locks and media that are can be controlled with the most instinctive of interfaces – your voice.

This has unsurprisingly caught the attention of an Australian smart building company, Quantify Technology, which is looking to deploy Alexa-powered devices as standard when building their “homes of the future” in Lindfield, Sydney.

But is hard-wiring a house for future-proofing potentially bypassing the issue that, as technological progress rapidly marches forward, who can say what will power our homes in decades to come?

Still, for now, news of Quantify’s idea is exciting when imagining actualized sci-fi homes of the very near future, as well as being a further example of just how big a role voicetech is going to play in all of our lives.

Voicetech takes command of smarthomes of the future

Quantify Technology is cherry-picking features of Amazon’s Alexa when building their new smarthomes. For example, According to CRN, instead of installing Amazon’s Echo speakers, the company is adding its own Alexa-powered smart speakers, which come loaded with their Alexa skill (called Qumulus) for voice-controlled home automation.

Quantify managing director, Mark Lapins, told CRN that by using natural voice commands instead of resorting to touch screens, apps and conventional physical controls, the homes they are building will be better equipped to control evermore complex home appliances.

He goes on to detail the long-term aim of the development project:

With natural language control, we’re able to deliver residents a truly unique living experience…What sets this project apart are the capabilities our technology can offer the future residents at Lindfield…

Combining our platform with a world-class voice solution like Alexa paves the way for us to raise the bar on residential and commercial development projects from here on out.

Imagine then that from now on, builders and developers should treat wi-fi connections, which are essential to smarthome devices like the Amazon Echo, like any other utility such as plumbing, gas, and electricity. Quantify now wants to see regular fittings such as lighting and heating featuring fully-integrated smarthome hardware.

This, however, does pose a risk.

“Home operating system 10.5 now available, please refit your kitchen”

As users of modern tech, we understand that when the latest software update drops, if you haven’t upgraded in a while, sometimes the hardware itself is simply no longer up to the task.

That’s one thing when buying a new smartphone, but entirely different if devices have already been deeply installed into your property. For Quantify’s vision, this could prove fundamentally difficult.

As light switches, showers, taps, door locks, kitchen and appliances gain internet connections, who’s to say that that newly installed, feature packed, Alexa-controlled door lock will still be supported a year or two down the line?

It’s also uncertain whether or not Alexa is going to stick around as the go-to voice assistant, leaving owners of smarthomes left behind and stuck with Amazon’s system. In February alone, Google and Samsung both made moves to simplify the concept of the smarthome, as well as remain competitive.

Google bought the smarthome tech company Nest a few years ago and is now merging the hardware with Google Home (much to the annoyance of Amazon who immediately stopped selling Nest products), and Samsung are looking to their SmartThings app (to be released with the Galaxy 9 in March) to connect across their (and others) product range.

It’s currently a bit of a minefield out there in the world of smarthomes, and even ignoring the whole argument that for some, connectivity is getting freakishly Orwellian, the smarthome industry is going to need to pull in the same direction for it to work.

Yet one thing remains absolutely certain – voicetech is going to rule the roost.

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