Okay, we’ll say right up front that the voice issuing from Honeywell’s new Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control is not quite as saucy as Samantha, the puckish operating system in the overlooked sci fi flick Her. However, judging from our experience with a demo version of the device, that development could be right around the corner.
The basic idea behind a voice-controlled system is to overcome a major hurdle for the cause of saving energy in buildings, which is how to get people to learn how to program a programmable thermostat. That means you need simplicity and engagement together in one package.
Our sister site PlanetSave has been covering a self-learning smart thermostat from Nest that offers one way of solving the human learning curve problem.
The Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat solution follows a different pathway, leveraging the interactive, intuitive potential of a conversation to ease things along. It’s already leading the pack in smart thermostats according to Navigant, and after playing around with it for a while we can see why.
The Honeywell Smart Thermostat
The demo version that we tried plugs into a wall outlet, which enabled us to dip into the experience without tinkering around with our heating system in the middle of winter (we’ll wait for the last polar vortex of the season to pass before we try that), so here are a first few thoughts.
The initial setup is a breeze if you’re going DIY, but you will need to have a couple of pieces of information in hand because it’s going to ask you if your heating system is more than 90 percent efficient or not, and it will ask you a couple of simple questions about your wiring.
That’s all done on touch screen but it only takes a minute or so (no, really). Before you know it, the fun part kicks in.
Honeywell makes two basic promises about the voice control. One is that the initial command is simply, “Hello, Thermostat (I don’t know, can we call it “Thermie” for short?), and the other is that your voice will cut through ambient noise in your house.
We are happy to report success right off the bat on both counts, and Thermie had no trouble hearing us over Nirvana’s “Here We Are Now, Entertain Us” which happened to pop up on our Pandora just then.
Another fun feature is the ability to set the color of the screen, which leads us to wonder when Honeywell will get around to recruiting Scarlett Johansson to voice the next version.
Let’s also note that since this is a Wi-Fi enabled device, you can adjust your settings from any mobile device.
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