Everyone knows Amazon, but here we’re speaking primarily of the Amazon Echo product and the ecosystem built around Echo and the Alexa personal assistant. Our Dream Home project includes an Amazon Echo located in the home theater.
The Amazon Echo, a voice controlled assistant for your smart home Amazon’s Echo is the heart of the Amazon smart home ecosystem, which utilizes the voice controlled Alexa personal assistant.[/caption]
Speaking to Alexa allows people to control a wide range of smart home automation products including lighting, door locks, thermostats… the list goes on, and on. Echo sits in a single room, however by adding the Wifi based Remote Control or Amazon Dot, one can control Echo, and therefore Alexa from additional rooms.
At this point in time, the Amazon Echo is perhaps the overall leader in friendly, voice controlled home automation integration. As of 2016, they are way out in front of Google, and even Apple HomeKit in terms of building a viable home ecosystem.
This section of our website lists Amazon’s own Echo, and it’s related products, but also all the products that work with Echo, which we have reviewed, or written about. This will prove to be an extensive and long list of products.
Perhaps important to note is how the Amazon eco-system differentiates itself from Apple’s HomeKit.
Amazon is built around the Echo, which is a speaker and microphone system at its base, it’s a wifi device, that will interface with all kinds of products. It seems Amazon’s primary focus is on making it easy for products to work with Echo/Alexa. By comparison, Apple’s HomeKit is an ecosystem, which does not have a specific product at its center, but has a tough set of requirements for products to be brought into/made compatible with its ecosystem. For example Apple’s HomeKit demands higher levels of security than we’re used to being required. Major smart lock companies have had to reengineer their smart locks to meet the tighter security HomeKit demands to cut down on the potential for having one’s home automation hacked. While Apple’s approach is valuable, and a good thing, it creates a mostly closed ecosystem as is typical for Apple, compared to Amazon Echo’s more open, friendly ecosystem.
It’s no surprise then, that there are far more Alexa compatible products out there than Siri compatible ones. In this regard, the big picture is somewhat similar to comparing Android (in smart phones and tables) with Apple’s iPhones and tablets. One particular advantage of Amazon’s Echo/Alexa over HomeKit is that just about every HomeKit/Siri compatible product shipping also works with Alexa, while by comparison, at this time, due to the extra requirements to be a HomeKit partner, there are far less Siri compatible products out there.
As we look at the industry in mid-late 2016, we are most impressed by the number of devices supporting Amazon Echo/Alexa, which include well known products and brands including Philips Hue smart lights, also lights from LIFX and Osram/Sylvania’s Lightify, Belkin WeMo switches, dimmers and outlets, Schlage and Kwikset smart locks, Ecobee3 and Nest thermostats, as just a few examples.
The Amazon Echo/Alexa system is an excellent personal assistant, loaded with features including channels of information from NPR news, to jokes to, well, check it out.