Voice Control Alternative to Amazon & Google, standalone?

(Rick) #1

I have Smartthings added to my Network and a few devices for now as I’m still testing. Works great for what I’m doing so far. I’ve been testing the Amazon’s Echo integration, but I don’t like how it saves all the data with no way to disable the history or anything.

I envision simply voice control devices that is just for smart homes, and would allow us more features for privacy. Googling has come up short, so I figured I’d asked the folks in the is community.

Any ideas?

(Glen King) #2

Sorry, but your criticism is a bit unrealistic. Do you really expect google and Amazon to provide the ongoing services completely for free forever? They have to have some method of monetizing this stuff.

Personally I have decided that since I’m not overthrowing the republic, I don’t care what people know about me. So I will trade a little bit of inside info about my buying preferences (“hey, he likes SmartThings gizmos!” 'Hey, he likes to remote control his lights!") for that.

Notice in the above parentheses that this is knowledge they have already gained by my previous purchases, and by my interactions on fora like this. So the reality is that those services are only minimally more invasive than what already exists.


At the present time there is no mass market voice control HA processor that I’m aware of that is not cloud-based simply because natural voice processing is incredibly data intensive. Remember that this isn’t simply transcription, the way Dragon NaturallySpeaking works – – the HA voice input is actually being used as a trigger for other actions, in this case being formatted into a message that can be passed along to the actual home automation control partner.

We have a detail topic on voice control solutions that existed before the echo was released, but all of the things you can buy off-the-shelf that are discussed in that thread are cloud-based.

It is possible to build your own using a laptop as the brain, and some community members have done that, but most of those don’t give you the flexibility of the cloud-based systems – – you have to speak a very specific phrase for each intent. But that should be doable if it’s really important to you.

There are a couple of kickstarter projects that have been promising local versions of systems like echo or Google home, but the ones I’ve seen don’t hold any patents and personally I don’t think they’ll ever come to market in the way that they are currently described. Either the voice processing will end up being cloud-based, or it’s going to be a very limited set of phrases. But we’ll see. :sunglasses:

(Rick) #4

There are plenty of people out there who enjoy their American Liberties and privacy. The technology is great, but we as a whole need demand more control of our own tech and privacy. But, I understand not everyone feels that way.

My other point on this is having multiple devices that are listening for the key word through out the house instead of just one room. I’m testing the Amazon Echo right now, but I’m not sure if I should have gone with the Google Product?


Different people have different needs and preferences, some prefer the echo and some prefer the Google home. They work about the same with SmartThings except that the echo can also do some routines.

If you already use chromecast, Google home has a bunch of nice additional features.

Echo has nine microphones in a full circle around the device while google home has only two. At our house, it’s an open plan architecture, and we found that echo just picked up a lot more of the commands from one side than google Home did. But if you have the device sitting against the wall anyway, you probably wouldn’t notice that difference.

We tried Google home for five days and then returned it mostly because the grouping is much easier to set up an echo. We have three housemates, lots of friends and family who come by plus health aides. So that’s 15 or 20 people using the same voice device every week. Echo lets you put a light in as many different groups as you want.

So if you want to set up a zone like bedroom one Plus bathroom one plus hallway plus kitchen that’s way easier to do in echo

Also, I use a lot of pathway groups, so “bedtime” includes one light in the living room, one light in the hallway, and one light in my bedroom. That way I can turn them all on when I’m ready to go to bed, and turn them all off once I’m in bed.

With Google home, it tries to guess what group you want things to belong in, and it’s a lot easier to run into situations where it has grouped things you didn’t actually want grouped. For example, we had “JDs ceiling” and “Michael’s ceiling” and “kitchen ceiling” and the Google home thought those were all one group because they all had the word “ceiling.” So it would turn them all on or off together, which is when my housemate decided to return it. :rage:

Yes, you can eventually figure out naming patterns that will work the way you want them to with the Google home, but it is definitely more work.

On the other hand, google home has a nicer IFTTT implementation because you don’t have to say the word “trigger.”

So neither is perfect, both are good, and which one will work best for you just depends on your own preferences. :sunglasses:

Much discussion:

(Ule) #6

I use google now in old android phone, works great but the mic is not so goog like google home or echo.

My house is quiet and its ok for me, is a quick way to control things without need to open my own phone.

I have 6 phones (10 dlls each) very cheap.

And the best, my poor’s man echo works with several languages, in my case spanish and english, but you can add any language

(Glen King) #7

I was doing exactly that, a “poor man’s Echo” using okgoogle on a tablet. But once the Dot dropped to $50 in that nice little package that can hear you far better than any tablet, it made sense to request two as birthday gifts. And then it dropped to $40 for the holidays, so I bought a few to give away as gifts and bought three more for my home.

And I gotta say, the AutoVoice process worked on the tablet… but was like molasses compared to similar functions via Echo. At $40, Echo Dot is now the “poor man’s Echo”.

(Rick) #8

I’m new to ST, and hearing you guys talk has been really helpful. Thank you! :slight_smile: I’m going to stick with the Echo for now since I already have it, and it’s have configured. Gotta play around with it some more.

(Mark Roach) #9

One day, when everything is in the cloud, a simultaneous attack on Amazon, Azure and Google will cripple not only the US but much of the world as well. IMHO. Been a cycle of centralizing and then decentralizing computer systems as well. We’ll see the cloud dissipate in a decade or two as security will never keep up with the advancing state attacks. We have already found Chinese spy chips embedded in SuperMicro server equipment used by Amazon. Yet governments are putting their faith in the cloud for what ever stupid reasons. Time will tell I guess.