We enhance our homes with smart technology to make our lives easier and more integrated. However, if the interface of the devices we choose is limited, it creates an unwanted ripple effect. When tech companies restrict their smart speakers’ “smartness” to maintain exclusivity, what does that mean for us?

Smart Speakers

Smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Nest and Home Lines, and Apple’s Homepod mini are often most people’s entrance into the world of home automation. While they can play music, act as handy kitchen timers, and tell you if you should bring your umbrella on your walk, they also act as the hub through which additional smart home devices are operated. Everything from smart plugs and light bulbs to your TV and sound system can be controlled by a smart speaker by saying “Alexa,” “Hey Google,” or “Siri.”

Smart Speakers’ Blind Spots

Smart speakers are affordable and provide an easy, hassle-free way to begin home automation without making a big commitment, but they also lay a very clear and well-planned path for the kinds of home automation products you will be able to purchase and use in the future. While the big tech companies have vast numbers of smart devices that can be controlled with their smart speakers, they lack communication between their systems. 

Currently, smart speakers are not interoperable across platforms. Your Alexa will resolutely ignore your attempts to access Google’s virtual assistant, and your Google Nest Hub adamantly won’t complete an Amazon order. Moreover, smart speakers that try to give users easy, simultaneous access to multiple AI assistants have run into roadblocks imposed by the tech giants. These seem like obvious constraints companies would impose, but in doing so they’re restricting the capabilities of their devices and the value to the user.

A Federal Interest

This past summer, a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights addressed concerns about smart home technologies. Citing the corners Amazon and Google have on the smart speaker market, the focus was on interoperability and the consumer’s right to choose a smart device based on their preference, not whether it worked with a particular company’s system.

One of the questions posed in the hearing focused on the Matter Alliance. Announced earlier this year, the alliance aims at bringing interoperability to smart home devices. The goal is to develop standards for device-to-device communication and connectivity. Google, Amazon, and Apple have all joined, but now they need to agree to bring the interoperability to their smart speakers and AI assistants. 

Achieving Interoperability

Consumers do have power. The Matter Alliance isn’t ready to hit the market quite yet, but when it does, purchasing power will show the tech giants how valued interoperability is. Beyond this, it’s important to be aware of the capabilities (and limitations) of your smart tech. To avoid those unwanted ripples throughout your connected home’s ecosystem, working with an experienced technician is key. The right professionals can guide you towards selections that highlight interoperability to provide you with the highest functionality.

Making conscious, informed decisions regarding the technology you incorporate can ensure your smart home is as smart as possible. After all, responsive living is meant to enhance your unique lifestyle–seamlessly. 

Responsive Living, the term coined by Acoustic Architects founders, Aaron Flint and Spencer Hauldren, is the concept of seamlessly enhancing the client’s unique lifestyle using smart home technology. Responsive Living allows you to interact with your space via touch input, voice command, and predictive automation, placing you in full control of your home.

If you would like to learn more about integrating new systems into your smart home system, feel free to connect with us. We will be happy to schedule a demo with you.

For more information, visit acousticarchitects.net

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