2 New Voice-Activated Assistants for Today’s Smart Home

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could walk in your house and command things to turn on or off with just the sound of your sultry voice?  Though this scenario may sound like a stolen scene from a Sci-Fi flick, it’s real and you can have it in your home today.



HouseLogix’s VoicePods lets you play out the above scene, delegating tasks to your home as if it had ears.  The device has built-in microphones and speakers so you can interact with it, like a virtual butler if you may.  It controls your TV, music, radio, lights, thermostats, shades, locks, security and other things around your house.  It speaks weather reports, temperatures and useful security information on demand and alerts you of open doors, tripped sensors, and unusual temperatures.

You can plug it in your home audio system, plug a mic into it if you want hidden external mics lying around the house, connect to the internet and update its firmware via a special VoicePod cable, and it uses Zigbee wireless technology that strengthens your home control network.

But if having a voice controlled home is too hi-tech for you, then you might like to start with something much simpler but just as functional and informative.



ivee has two products already available, the Flex and the Digit, that tell you the time, date, and temperature.  The difference between the two is that the Flex has a built in radio while the Digit has some sleep sounds ready to lull you to sleep.  Both device are voice controlled and there’s no need to “train” it in recognizing your voice as it looks for phonemes, a sound that makes up part of a word, and compare them to a grammar list called the “Hidden Markov model” to determine what your command is.

Another promising ivee product is the Kickstarter project Sleek which tells you the time, date, temperature, stocks, weather, and much more as well as control other Internet-connected devices in your home via WiFi.  And since it’s cloud-based, it can deliver more functionality for you, your family and your home.  you can even command it to tell you or your kids a bedtime story.

But if voice controlled technology just doesn’t float your boat, don’t worry, there are other solutions to infuse newer technology in your home.

Xfinity Home Control


Comcast announced a new addition to its Xfinity Home umbrella of services – the Xfinity Home Control.  This service allows users to remotely control their home’s lighting and thermostat,  watch live streaming video of their home via wireless cameras, get real-time text and email alerts when doors and windows open or close.  For $9.95 a month, you get all the remote access features and security enhancements without hiring a professional to do it for you.  All you need is to purchase the Xfinity Home Control starter pack for $99.95 and you’re all set.

Smart Home money-saving tips


  • TextNow MiFi

Speaking of Internet connectivity, if you want to save some cash or if you think you’re spending too much on your phone bill because of your data plan, there’s a new product that can help you deal with costly phone bills.

Enflick, the creator of TextNow –  an app that allows you to send free texts and make free calls, has partnered with Sprint to deliver a new MiFi device that makes it affordable for anyone to have mobile wireless connectivity on-demand without the need for WiFi.  The TextNow MiFi delivers ubiquitous connectivity at the lowest price point available on the market today which means no more costly phone plans or year-long contracts.  With TextNow MiFi, users can have internet connectivity wherever they go as well as power other Internet connected devices such as the iPod Touch.

For for as low as $15/month for 500MB of data, you can turn your teen’s iPod Touch into an iPhone as he or she can use it to make calls or send messages as it is connected to the Internet.

Let’s be realistic – not everything can be connected to the internet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t.  There’s this new startup project called Tile that allows you to track things like your wallet, keys, bags or anything that you can think off so you never have to lose your things.

Tile is a small square Bluetooth Low Energy device that you can put on any of your belongings with a companion app that let’s you track or find your lost item.  It has a built-in speaker so you can set the Tile’s alarm to go off so you can find the keys you’ve been looking for over an hour.  But the best part about this little device is it’s crowdsourced item-finding technology.  If you left your Tiles wallet in a public place or someone took it, just press the Tile lost button on your app.  The Tile then sends a signal of its position, and if a person using Tile is nearby, the owner will be made aware of the position of the lost item.  The nearby Tile users isn’t even made aware that a lost Tile has been found.  The point is, as more people use Tile, it would be easier to find lost items.

Tile is compatible with iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPad 3rd and 4th gen, and iPod Touch 5th gen and it has an internal battery that doesn’t need to be charged as the Tile battery lasts for a whole year.  A month before the battery rans out, you get a notification regarding this and you can easily order a Tile replacement.  The old Tile can be sent back to the manufacturer so it can be recycled. And you can purchase as many Tiles as you want, as the app can support mulitple Tiles in use.

Right now, Tile is a Selfstart campaign and is looking to raise $20,000 so it can start making the cute device.  It just launched yesterday and it has already 660 backers and raised over $30,000 with still a month to go.  If you want to be the first to get your hands on a Tile, you can pre-order the device now for $18.95 for a single Tile.  Better to get it early, as a single Tile will cost $25 a piece after the campaign.