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Echo Show

Echo Show

Echo Show

The day after Microsoft announces their Alexa and Google Home competitor called “Invoke” based on Cortana’s voice engine, Amazon releases Echo Show as the latest member of the Alexa Echo Family.

Echo Show has a touch screen and also includes now a calling feature. You can not only control all your smart home devices with your voice as before, but now you are able to watch videos with your voice, place calls and send messages to other Echo member devices (Alexa, Dot) and everybody who has the free Alexa app on their Android or IOS phone.

Powered by Dolby, Echo Show is fine-tuned to deliver crisp vocals with dynamic bass response and expansive sound. Watch as the display comes alive to show song lyrics, custom stations, curated playlists, and album art with Amazon Music. Echo Show also connects to Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn—giving you voice control for all of your music. Echo Show is Bluetooth-enabled so you can stream other popular music services like Apple Music from your phone or tablet

Introducing a new way to be together more with the people who matter most. Make hands-free video calls to friends and family who have an Echo Show or the Alexa App. When you’re busy making dinner, just ask Alexa to place a call from your Echo Show to anyone with a supported Echo device or the Alexa App. You can also enable a new feature called Drop In for the special cases when you want to connect with your closest friends and family. For example, you can drop in to let the family know it’s time for dinner, see the baby’s nursery, or check in with a close relative.

With the Alexa App, conversations and contacts go where you go. When you’re away from home, use the app to make a quick call or send a message to your family’s Echo. Alexa calling and messaging is free.

For news and information you can see and hear, just ask Alexa for your video flash briefing from CNN, Bloomberg, and more. Curious about the latest movie trailers or a need a how-to video from YouTube? Just ask.

Echo Show helps keep you organized at home. Start a timer in the kitchen and watch as it counts down, or easily see and manage your family’s calendar. Sign in to the Alexa App to take your to-do and shopping lists with you. Just add an item to the list from home, and whoever is out shopping will see it added instantly on their Alexa App.

Equipped with eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo Show hears you from any direction–even while music is playing.

Echo Show Internals
Smart Home support
The Haus is closing its doors

The Haus is closing its doors

Some sad news from the Home Automation market… After not even one year of opening its doors, the home automation university “The Haus” based in Denver is closing its doors for good. The company assets are being auctioned online.

The company Xssentials offering their Ebode home automation solution started “The Haus” at the end of 2015. When I visited them in March 2016, they had just opened their doors to integrators and dealers of home automation systems. Top of the line classrooms, wide open spaces, top notch kitchen and food areas, etc did provide the right atmosphere.

The Haus specialized in training companies on home automation equipment using Savant’s home automation system in conjunction with Sonos speakers, Nest Thermostats and Audio/Video solution for Home Theaters. They did not offer any other smart home controller or hubs as part of their training and their focus was more on training the companies on the market, selling techniques, forecast and lead generation.

Savant is not a market leader in home automation and with their limited set of functionality compared to all the other vendors, the adoption from customers of Savant was most likely very limited. Having talked to a couple of people, who had been approached by integrators, the main focus of those integrators was to sell the ease of use of the Savant system. The most common question I received asking me for my personal opinion and advice, was about comparing Savant with the Logitech Harmony system.

Logitech’s Harmony system with different remote controls and their new POP home switch offering is very similar to Savant’s system. The Logitech system supports A/V components, Sonos speakers and Philips Hue bulbs. The Savant system also offers Lamp modules for $99 in addition to the items listed before. Those modules are proprietary light switches from Savant and given that those are simple WiFi controlled on/off switches, people are questioning the value compared to other remote controlled light switches talking Z-wave or Zigbee.

In either case both of those solutions are considered smart home solutions, but their range of functionality is very limited and their interoperability with other protocols and/or vendors and/or devices is non-existent or extremely limited.

The POP system is very comparable to the new Fibaro “Button” product enabling one smart skill e.g. turn lights on, start playing Sonos music, etc. Neither the Savant system or the Logitech Harmony system are offering whole house home automation. They do offer a great consolidation of multiple remotes especially with surround systems and having the option to turn lights on/off and play Sonos music are nice, but is this a true smart home? At least the Comcast XR11 remote has a sophisticated voice recognition implementation.

Rather than speculating, facts are that “The Haus” is closing its doors. Not enough demand or interest, a portfolio which wasn’t deep enough, their company added value wasn’t high enough compared to the investment required in terms of time and/or money and many other ideas come to mind. Regardless of all those ideas, one home automation company is closing its doors and that is sad.

I wish all “The Haus” members the best going forward and hopefully other opportunities will come up, allowing those members to continue having a career in the Home Automation market, which is still a massively booming market.

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