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Home assistants provide household aid

The newest technological gadgets are some of the most sought after gifts. Lately, the conversation in technology has shifted towards artificial intelligence. With the Christmas season just behind us, some families may have purchased this new form of aid.

The Amazon Echo and Google Home are two household artificial intelligence assistants on the rise.

Two well-known household items are the Amazon Echo and Google Home. They both serve the same purpose as an assistant in a home. 

The first artificial intelligent (AI) talking technology that people had access to was Apple’s Siri. Siri was first introduced with the release of the iPhone 4s. This new feature eventually led to Amazon and Google creating their own AI assistant.

The Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker that is connected to the Alexa Voice Service (AVS). Products that have the AVS built-in all have a microphone and speaker. These products are used by saying the word “Alexa” and the device will light up. Once Alexa is activated then users can ask it to do anything from playing music to finding out what the weather is.

The Amazon Alexa website discusses the Alexa built-in products including the Echo.

Alexa built-in products work with Alexa skills and Alexa-compatible smart home devices, bringing familiar capabilities from the Amazon Echo family of devices to a range of new form factors and use cases developed by leading brands,” the website states. “We simplify building voice-forward devices with Alexa built-in by handling complex speech recognition and natural language understanding in the cloud, reducing your development costs and accelerating your time to market.”

The prices of Alexa range from different products. The two products families purchase are the Amazon Echo Dot and the Amazon Echo. The updated version of Amazon Echo Dot boasts a base price of $29.99 on Amazon. The Amazon Echo is bigger with a higher quality speaker, and starts at $74.99.

The following tweet shows new Echo devices offered by Amazon.

The counterpart of the Amazon Echo is the Google Home. The product was released, Nov. 4, 2016, almost exactly two years after Amazon dropped their products. Google released their products to directly compete with the Amazon Echo series.

The Google Home comes with Google Assistant. Google Assistant is the computer voice program that processes everything. The assistant can be activated by saying “Ok Google” or “Hey Google”. There are also other commands that can wake up the Google Assistant.

Google made three different sizes of the Google Home, all featuring different prices. The Google Home Mini base price is $29, the Google Home base price is $129 and the Google Home Max base price is $399.

Furthermore, Google has made Google Assistant available in other brands of speakers including JBL speakers. This gives buyers more options on the quality of the speaker.

The Amazon Echo offers a more appealing look with the design of the outside of the speaker. The Google Home offers a better quality of AI as it knows a little more than the Echo. The cost is very similar, but the Echo can do more around the house.

However, if the user wants to set up a smart home using one of the two products, it can be costly. Both products require buyers to buy other techs to hook it up with the smart AI, such as buying a separate doorbell ringer.

Director of technology, Robert Hyatt, personally likes the Echo over the Google Home because it fits with a wider range of products.

I think now is a great time to start buying smart home hubs and accessories. The use of voice automation broadens the capabilities of all our devices, smart hubs and smartphones. The more we talk to our devices the better AI will become. Modern technology is designed to evolve and grow with the needs of the consumer and smart hubs are an integral part of this evolution. — FC Director of Technology, Robert Hyatt

“The best way to determine the system that will work for you is to know what accessories you are going to want in your home, ie. smart plugs, smart lamps, smart light bulbs or security systems,” Hyatt said. “I personally like the Amazon Echo because of its broad compatibility. I have Philips HUE smart light bulbs and a WEMO smart plug because they are compatible with Siri, which is on my phone, and the Amazon Echo. I will continue to buy only Philips HUE smart bulbs because of this compatibility.”

Technology will continue to evolve and Hyatt believe this is a great time to buy one of these smart products.

“I personally waited for the market to mature before I purchased my smart accessories but I have had an Amazon Echo for a couple years,” Hyatt continued. “I think now is a great time to start buying smart home hubs and accessories. The use of voice automation broadens the capabilities of all our devices, smart hubs and smartphones. The more we talk to our devices the better AI will become. Modern technology is designed to evolve and grow with the needs of the consumer and smart hubs are an integral part of this evolution.”

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John Monke can be reached via email and Twitter.

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