Amazon Echo and Echo Dot

Amazon introduces Amazon Alexa, Echo and the All-New Echo Dot at a product launch in London

Amazon Echo was released in the United States November 2014.  The Echo is a smart speaker designed to work with home automation devices using voice-control, completely hands-free.  It can play all your music, access the radio, read audio books, the news, the weather, traffic reports, sports scores, all using Alexa Voice Services.  The Echo can control your home’s temperature, lights, fans, blinds, garage door, locks, just by saying, “Alexa, turn on outside lights”.  More devices are constantly being added, and currently work with Z-Wave products that iHomeCtrl carries.  Alexa continues to grow smarter as new features are added.  Alexa has answers to all your questions, we will no longer need to “Google it”.  “Alexa, explain the laws of physics to me.”  Alexa can be a timer, read recipes, convert measurements.  In the U.S, Alexa is capable of ordering pizza, an Uber, or flowers.

Completely free of the Echo, is the new Echo Dot, released in the U.S October 2016, for a fraction of the cost.  Though tiny in comparison to the Echo, it can do everything it’s predecessor does, with the addition of connecting to your own bluetooth speaker, being portable and having better long-range voice capabilities.

So when will Amazon Echo and the Echo Dot be available to Canadians? Unfortunately,  there is no official news, only speculation that it could be released in 2017.  “Alexa, when will you come to Canada?”

Smart Home Return on Investment

Smart home devices such as security cameras, locks, lights and thermostats are adding that WOW factor to homes, to help enhance a home’s appeal at sale time.  Real Estate agents in the United States are beginning to see homes with smart features sell significantly faster.  They are also seeing consumers appreciate these features and are, in fact, asking for homes with these features.

The top choices for creating a smart home are, locks and alarms, thermostats and fans, and lighting.  Approximately 60% of consumers would like their new home to have these features.  However, iHomeCtrl can add other features such as a pool/spa controller, garage door opener or automation of your sprinkler system.  We are equipped to assess your home and lifestyle and give recommendations on smart devices that will add convenience and savings to your day.

Home automation is a long-term investment, one you can reap the benefits of now, with potential energy savings of 15%, if all you change is your lighting and thermostat.  While you are saving money, the added value of a smart home will continue to improve your property value when the time comes to sell.