Smart Home and How to Make your Kitchen Smarter with Voice Control

killer-application-for-the-kitchenIntroduction

Smart devices offer richer functions, the option to control the device over the Internet from anywhere, and the opportunity to make your life more convenient through home automation. They enable you to schedule lights and heating to come on automatically when you get home saving you the trouble of reaching for the device controls or a switch.

But it isn’t always possible to automate. The idea behind home automation is to set a rule to allow one event to cause another. For example, a sensor is triggered and that then tells the light to turn on. In order for this to happen, you need to have a bunch of smart devices and a smart hub capable of getting them to work together. If you don’t, you will still find yourself having to reach for your smartphone and an app to turn on or off your smart devices. Now if have just arrived home and your arms are laden with shopping or are heading up the stairs with a drink and a bag of Doritos, reaching for anything becomes a real problem. This is where the convenience of voice to deliver that hands-free control is making the smart home more and more easy-to-use.

Voice Uniquely Useful to the Smart Kitchen

Smart home devices can be used to set up home security, improve safety, save energy as well as making your life more convenient. Voice control adds value to all of these areas. For example, you can use voice to arm your DIY security system when you leave the house. But the kitchen, because of the greater need to be hands-free and to turn devices on and off frequently, is perhaps the area where voice control helps the most – I gave the example above of walking up the stairs with a bag of popcorn and the inconvenience of having to reach for a switch or a smartphone app. In this case, if you can turn off the lights with your voice it is, of course, convenient, but less so than compared with the kitchen. Why?

Kitchen is a Busy Place of Work

Firstly, if you have to get out your phone and carry the popcorn, it may mean an awkward balancing act or a couple of trips up and down the stairs, but it is not such a big deal as you are probably not on such tight schedule; you are on your leisure time. You also don’t need to go up and down the stairs ten times in an hour. On the other hand, a kitchen is a place of work; where you are chopping, washing, baking, frying, working with multiple devices and frequently adjusting settings all at once, furiously trying to get all the elements of a dish ready at the right time. If it is possible to tell the oven, “Five minutes more” or, “Start boiling now” while you drain the pasta, it will save you time. The more often you have to use your hands instead of your voice the more time you waste.

Kitchen Can Mean Chaos

But what if you do have a smart hub and lots of sensors and smart devices? Home automation rules also give hands-free control, so why not automate your kitchen? You can, but it is more difficult to create device-to-device home automation for a kitchen because you are involved in a lot of thinking on your feet. For example, you decide that you don’t want your meat to start cooking until you have finished braising the vegetables, but suddenly you decide that the vegetables aren’t ready so you are delayed. You perhaps forgot to prepare the potatoes. Your triggers to make things happen are harder to define compared to the example of your staircase where the automation is very simple: you walk on the stairs and the sensor picks you up, it then tells the light to turn on. When it is difficult to create an automation for every scenario, you will find yourself controlling many of your smart devices individually. In which case, your voice is the best way to do that.

Add Voice Control to your Kitchen now with Almond and Amazon Alexa

So you like the idea of a smart kitchen, but your kitchen equipment is not very old and you are not prepared to exchange it for expensive smart devices now. Don’t worry. You can make your kitchen smart, voice controlled and more convenient to use with some simple ingredients: Almond smart hub, Amazon Alexa and a few smart plugs.  

Device Ingredients

Amazon Alexa – Amazon Alexa is Amazon’s voice assistant. It comes as part of Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap.  

Almond Smart Hub – Almond is a powerful smart and home automation hub able to connect to a large ecosystem of key smart devices including Alexa. Amazon Alexa Smart Home lets you control lights, switches, dimmers and thermostats, but only if they are certified by Amazon. Almond’s integration with Amazon Alexa and Echo gives you unique control over more smart devices. As long as one of the above devices is integrated with Almond you can control it through Amazon Alexa.

Smart Plugs – You are not prepared to buy a smart oven and kettle and coffee maker just yet. Fortunately, you can make an old device smart with a smart plug.  

Set up Your Smart Kitchen

Now put the smart plug on your devices and plug them into a wall socket. Next, connect the smart plug with Almond and Almond with Amazon Alexa through the Alexa app. When you connect the smart plugs to Almond don’t forget to name them to match up with your devices (blender, kettle etc). Once you have done this you are ready to smarten up your kitchen.

Timing Everything to Perfection

Almond and Alexa are great for timing things when you are making a meal. Don’t want your toast or coffee to go cold? For perfect timing prepare the coffee maker and put your bread in the toaster, while getting on with cooking your eggs. When you want these things to start, just say, ‘Alexa, turn on coffee maker’ and then, ‘Alexa turn on toaster.’ No need to turn around and go over and switch them on. Finish up your eggs and bacon and be ready in time to spread the butter when your toast is still hot.

Need a timer to notify you when you want your start your toaster? Amazon Alexa actually includes this. Just ask Alexa to set a timer.  When Alexa tells you five minutes are up, you can say ‘Alexa turn on coffee machine.’

Almond 3 Smart Hub and Router

Almond 3 is not only a smart hub but a dual-band mesh router. Mesh enables Almond 3s to work together to boost WiFi around your home, creating one network and central management for all your WiFi devices. With Almond 3 WiFi coverage is improved meaning you won’t be slowed down while watching a recipe video on Youtube. You can go back as many times as you like and your guests won’t die of hunger because of a buffering video.

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