Thursday, 19 May 2016 07:09

Google Home Personal Assistant Unveiled

Google Home is Google's answer to Amazon's Echo voice actuated assistant.  Like the Echo, it's a small plug-in speaker with multiple far-field microphones that pick voice commands from anywhere in the room.  You can have Google Home turn on the lights, set a timer, schedule an event, answer questions,  stream music, or control other compatible devices.  It  uses Google's Cast standard so you can have it can stream music to Home units in other rooms or talk to the Chromecast unit plugged into your TV to play video clips.  A customizable case will let you choose colors and materials to suit your décor.

Google Home won't be available until later this year, but Google announced it at their I/O conference yesterday to give  developers, and those considering purchasing a competitor's product, a heads up.

 

Published in At Home

You're probably familiar with those dash buttons from Amazon that make it easier to order items like detergents, paper towels, and Doritos with a single click.  Now Amazon has released a programmable version so you can create your own IoT functionality.  The simple WiFi device connects to AWS IoT, AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon SNS, and many other Amazon Web Services without writing device-specific code.   You program the logic behind the button in the cloud to configure button clicks to count or track items, call or alert someone, start or stop something, order services, or even provide feedback. 

To get started you'll need the button and an Amazon AWS account.  You provision the button with your AWS IoT certificate and private key.  When you click the button it connects and publishes a message.  You configure the AWS IoT Rules Engine to decode single-click, double-click, or long-press events and route them to any AWS service. Alternatively, you can create a custom action using node.js, python, or Java in an AWS Lambda function to connect to third party services such as Facebook, Twilio, or Slack.   

Amazon suggests using button as a remote control for Netflix, a switch for your Philips Hue light bulb, a check-in/check-out device for Airbnb guests, or a way to order your favorite pizza for delivery as example applications. 

The buttons are currently unavailable, but Amazon can send you an email once they become available again.

Published in At Home
Sunday, 03 May 2015 14:02

IFTTT Expands Amazon Echo's Horizons

If you own an Amazon Echo you know you can ask its voice actuated assistant, Alexa, to help you from everything to maintaining your shopping list to choosing your listening music.  The limitation was that Alexa couldn't reach out to other apps, but that's now changed.

IFTTT (acronymn for If This Then That) has announced the Alexa Channel that hosts "recipies" (scripts) that allow Alexa to interact with other apps.  You can have Alexa email your shopping list when you ask Alexa what's on it or you can have Alexa add the list to your Evernote app for example.  No doubt even more useful recipies will be available soon.

 

Published in At Home