The innovation driving smart home technology brings us to a reckoning point at which consumers have to determine their comfort level. Do they want technology to manage their home operations?
Yes, there's a lot to love about Alexa. The list of her skills grows daily. But one thing she can't do? Initiate a conversation. Now, that might be by design, as some people would it find it creepy -- or just plain irritating -- - to have Alexa start talking while they're in the middle of a phone call or TV show.
Yet if your voice assistant, be it Amazon Alexa or Google Home, could start talking of its own volition, it would actually be very useful. You probably already have breaking news alerts on your phone; Alexa could give you a quick audio update when something big is going down. You'd want to specially tailor these of course, because while, yes, I'm interested in knowing that four-billion-year-old fossils were found (a news alert that recently popped up on my phone from two different news sites), I don't need Alexa to tell me right now. Still, it's intriguing, right?
Amazon told me it can't speculate on what may or may not happen in the future, but there's been speculation that push notifications are coming for a few months now -- and it could really change the smart home, particularly as more appliances start using Alexa or Google Home to communicate.
"Voice-controlled appliances have been in the works at GE for years, but it was all from the ground up, and it had never taken off," Lauren Platt, Lead Industrial Designer at GE Appliances, told Digital Trends. "It was expensive, and just not as finely tuned as it is now. And when the Amazon Echo launched, it gave us kind of a jumping off point." From Whirlpool to Samsung, manufacturers are working on ways to let you ask if your laundry is done before you lug the basket downstairs.