The software, LINKS, otherwise known as “Jarvis” is a free Artificial Intelligence Emulator that runs on the Windows Operating system. I’ve made a video taking you from the download to the installation and setup process. I am on the Beta Testing team and have a direct link to developers, so if you have questions, problems, suggestions, please let me know!
So… How is this different from Amazon Alexa? What will it give me that I do not have already?
Also, not a fan of the interface. Hard to read, and I can only assume not good for people who have visual issues. Does it conform to ADA use?
Really? Amazon Alexa? Amazon Alexa isn’t customizable. With LINKS you can make up your own commands, your own processes, you can do literally whatever you want to do with it. You can’t do that with Alexa at all. You can try and tie other services with Alexa you can, but it’s extremely limited.
So to answer your question: What will it give me that I do not have already?
A: Anything you want
I can understand the interface being hard to read, this is a Beta product at the moment and the interface should be different when Mark III comes out.
I’m not sure what ADA use is, could you explain more please?
Not that it doesn’t have limitations, but the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is an official open SDK for extending the Echo with new capabilities. They even started a large fund (up to $100M) to help foster development.
Yeah but why would I want to go pay money for something to do what this software can already do better without me having to be a coder to use it?
Can’t answer that for you. But maybe someone doesn’t use Windows or want to dedicate a PC. Or they want something plug-and-play to toss on the kitchen counter. Or maybe they are interested in the new Rachio sprinkler controller integration… Just never know.
Nothing against what you’re into, but calling the Echo out as a closed platform just wasn’t true, and there are many ways to extend its control easily without code. IFTTT, SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Wemo, Hue, and SimpleControl being some examples.
I actually didn’t expect to have to defend LINKS here, but I’ll give my best shot. I have nothing against Alexa, it wouldn’t sell if it wasn’t a good product. That’s really cool that there’s a lot of money going into alexa for development and you do have a point that you can’t just pick up LINKS and set it on a table somewhere. But, there are some things that LINKS can do that Alexa just can’t.
For starters, LINKS can save you about $180, by not having to spend money on another product. Granted, if you don’t have a windows computer, for now at least, you’re out of luck. I can tell you right form the horse’s mouth, that had LINKS of been able to get the funding it needs and has been seeking, it’d be available on Linux and Mac already. Additionally, the devs have already made a beta mobile app for android as well and we’re working on an interconnected web app as well.
The biggest difference, unless this has changed, please fact check me here, is that LINKS is now capable of having both outbound as well as inbound communication, whereas Alexa only has outbound communication, not inbound, and LINKS now outputs responses in optional clear text, JSON, and XML formats, and is therefore highly usable with other coding languages and functions, as well as IFTTT (both trigger and action) and the devs are going to be soon seeking their own channel on IFTTT for more stable integration.
Being on the beta team I’ve seen a lot of the new happenings with LINKS that I know Alexa just doesn’t have. I know from experience that Alexa has only outbound options, not inbound. I can’t say, “If it’s raining then Alexa”, but I can with LINKS. With IFTTT’s maker channel I can completely control and customize LINKS in any which way I want to. As far as not everyone having Windows, that’s true, but MOST people do have windows computers. In addition to simple VBS scripting, LINKS is capable of controlling any aspect of windows, and in the newest beta release, is capable of fully utilizing Cortana in Windows for background processing, so now has dictation potential and more versatile back and forth communication, which Alexa doesn’t have, or if it does, is extremely limited.
There’s a lot more to come, and I’m definitely sorry if I scoffed at the idea of comparing Alexa to LINKS, I just found the idea a bit absurd to even compare the two. I guess, realistically, the only thing Alexa has going on LINKS is this:
- More funding and backing
- It’s mobile and standalone
- It costs you $180
- It’s free
- It’s fully customizable both inbound and outbound
- It’s not mobile, but it works on the largest demographic of desktop and laptop PC’s in the world
- You have a direct link to the Developers, who listen to the users, unlike Amazon. Amazon does ok with listening the users, but let’s be real here, if you asked Amazon to make Alexa a square, the chances of that happening are slim to none, whereas with LINKS, you actually have a chance of making something happen.
- It’s free. Therefore, if you don’t like it, you’re not stuck with a paperweight.
- Did I say it’s free? Well, just for good measure. IT’S FREE.
Ahem… It’s not “FREE” … it requires a Windows capable device to execute on. Last I checked, those ran ~$150 minimum.
The $180 Amazon Echo includes a 7 (seven!!!) microphone array with far-field voice detection and isolation technology. And is also a passable music playback device.
It is unfair to compare the cost of production hardware & service with the cost of beta software (LINKS).
Pardon me for emphasizing that the “free” option means most people already have a Windows computer, but I don’t have to reiterate that, you’ve already ignored it once.
I’m glad Alex has some nice hardware, that’s great. You Given any system that takes voice input, more mics is sometimes better. With LINKS, you’re not just stuck with what mics come on it, you can integrate it with as many mics as your PC can handle. Again, most people already have a Windows box.
Of course it’s unfair to compare Alexa to a beta software, but considering LINKS, a puny beta software, can already outdo Alexa, a fully production software, I find that one heck of an advancement. Could LINKS do better? Well of course. Is Alexa a better product? I suppose my friend is in the eye of the beholder. If you have a mac computer and $180 to spend, then OF COURSE Alexa would be a better option. But if you’ve got a windows computer and you already have a decent mic setup on your pc…then why would you run out and grab a $180 piece of hardware that can barely do half of what LINKS can do, for free?
@tgauchat I have not loaded Links therefore I cant say if it is good or bad. I can however say that in the world of HA there are a lot of people running PC based solutions already as well as running HTPC setups where they already have an always on solution. I could see this being a nice whole hose solution where all you need is a Bluetooth microphone in each room so that the HTPC setup in another room can hear you when you bellow a command. Alexa requires a separate device for each area so that becomes cost prohibitive for someone with say 4 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, den, TV room, play room, etc.
Any option in the HA arena is always welcome in my mind as it grows the hobby into a larger more stable environment over time. Even if the new product is crap it becomes a lesson learned for the person making the next product in the area.
It’s not just “mics”. Amazon Echo has hardware based DSP (digital signal processing) built in. This firmware is specialized in detecting the wake word and on then focusing the weighting of mics towards the person speaking.
Regardless… I apologize – I don’t know why the tone is so adversarial here in this Topic; sorry I joined in that same tone.
Amazon Echo / Alexa is a more appropriate solution for folks that don’t have a Windows machine running all the time and have it working with many services, including SmartThings “out-of-the-box”.
LINKS offers different a different value proposition which may be attractive to some folks. I’m not interested in it personally (at this time), but appreciate the share. Indeed, I have a single running HTPC and may give this a try sometime.
Thank you, and yes, of course, you are correct in your perception here
Echo is not without its issues. I have tickets open. I say “Alexa turn ON kitchen light” and it turns it off. You can hear clearly in the playback it was ON but Echo thinks its off. I have done the voice learn thing about 5 times and On and Off (should be words used in this process as they are common commands) are not ever spoken.
ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Does the device/service have features to assist the disabled, basically. Larger text, contrast settings, spoken text for the blind, that sort of thing.
Home Automation is obviously a HUGE thing for folks that have disabilities, so it’s, in my opinion, a critical feature for something aimed at the HA industry.
Obviously beta products like this don’t need those features…yet.
I will say that, while Alexa does come out of the box working with SmartThings, that’s great, but, technically, anything with IFTTT capability can integrate with Smartthings, which LINKS already has, even if it doesn’t have it’s own channel. With the Maker Channel on IFTTT it’s already able to fully integrate with any other system in IFTTT, again, both inbound and outbound. Dare I say, even siri with its home kit can’t hold a candle to that. Now I’m certainly not going to bash siri, it’s got a LOT of functionality that LINKS nor Alexa have and it’s got a huge market, but what it doesn’t have is customization.
I would say for the most part, someone with a disability would find it hard to use LINKS. It is customizable which means people actually need to be hands on with it. It does do some things out of the box very well, and I can say that in the soon to be future LINKS will be able to do a lot out of the box, like be able to out of the box work with most home automation controllers. In its native state, LINKS vocally speaks to the user, but since it’s operating on a windows computer, it would be relatively easy to utilize windows’ already available ADA software. Any program on windows LINKS can integrate with to some extent. For example, previously, for dictation, we would tend to use Dragon Naturally Speaking, but now that we have access to use with Cortana on Windows 10, that capability has been significantly improved upon.
While yes, it is in the Beta stage, I would say that it’s functionality is to be highly praised, but it of course does need a lot of work.
Definitely not knocking it in anyway, probably going to give it a shot this weekend even! Alexa does upset me sometimes.
And you are right, windows built in features probably are mostly all that’s needed for ADA stuff, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. I instantly think back to the atrocious java based web apps the world has seen, and how they are so insulated from the base OS, those options provide little to no support.
And sorry I meant my original as a reply to you but hit the wrong reply button.
I have integrated Alexa capabilities w/ SmartThings for what I consider ‘free’. True I did make a Amazon hardware purchase without the expectation of using Alexa but what most people don’t realize is that FireTV v2 includes Alexa and recently gained its home automation capabilities with it (they say its coming to v1 as well).
I am a huge Amazon fan and bought into the Amazon hardware ecosystem long ago; TV, Tablets, but no Echo as of yet. As long as you don’t mind a device thats main purpose is to sell you more Amazon your really couldnt ask for a better value in terms of cost for the Hardware and value added services like Alexa that they include for no additional charge.
I suppose if you’re an amazon fan then that would be fine of course. I’ve had my pc for six years now and just installed this program. Works very well out of the box. Here is a quick video of someone who went all out with LINKS:
Sorry I asked (SMILE) I went to your site, and it did not detail out really what you can do with it, had no real examples for the real world that I found. I may have missed it, but this explains it a bit better.
So, how is this different from using Voice Recognition to run a scripted command? What can it do out of the box, with little automation that is not already being done?
Not trying to be hard on you here, just want to understand where I would use this in daily activities.