Living in a smart home at Kochi, Kerala

The beginning of Amie smart home

Our team has been developing this amazing home automation product called ‘Amie’. While the project started, it was code named 'lotus'. The product was taking shape and we had to test it in real life and see how it performs. That’s when I thought why not try it at my own house in Aluva, Ernakulam.

Initially, the product had only basic app control. You could connect an endpoint to any lights, fans or AC, and turn it on, off or adjust the level through the app.

The app-based light and fan speed control were a sure shot hit among my friends and relatives. Even during family gatherings like weddings, birthday parties etc., people were asking about the magic.

Later on, we made full use of the fact that the product is a true cloud (internet) connected system. We integrated artificial intelligence based voice recognition service from Amazon - called Amazon Alexa - into Amie. Amazon has gadgets like Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show etc., which record the spoken words through its mic and send the words to Amie. The algorithms which help in understanding the meaning of spoken words are called ‘Skills’. Amie has its own custom skill approved and published by Amazon, called “Amie Advanced Controls”. You can find more details about it here.

The Amie Innovation in voice control for home automation

While the default home automation skill from Amazon understands just the basic commands like on or off, our custom skill “Amie Advanced Controls” is truly miles ahead in voice recognition. A user can speak complex commands like “Keep veranda lights on for half an hour” - and Amie Smart Hub will switch on the light and turn it off after half an hour automatically. Or a user can say “Set bedroom fan to full speed” and “Reduce its speed at 4 AM”. See that in a follow-up command, one didn't have to tell the name of the device and just refer using “it” - Amie’s skill understands which one you meant, and Amie hub will reduce the speed of bedroom fan at 4 in the early morning. No more waking up in a cold morning to reduce your fan speed! This applies to air conditioners, lights and heaters too. Find below some of the very natural ways in which you can speak to Amie Smart Home System:

“Switch off all devices” - this is useful when you are about to go out.

“Increase dining light brightness” - will increase by 20%.

“Is the light on in veranda?” - Amie’s skill will tell you the status.

Above are just some examples. We are actually building more capabilities into the voice processing servers, so users will get to experience new features whenever they are launched.

'People Compatibility'

After adding voice commands to the system installed at my home, I already felt like 'Iron Man' - (there is a voice-based virtual assistant called Jarvis in that movie). My wife and I were very well accustomed to using the voice command and app for home control. That’s when my mother came home! :) This was a very challenging part of our test since she is not very tech savvy. All she could do with her smartphone was make and receive phone calls. That’s when the Switch Transmitter endpoints became useful.

Since we had installed transmitters inside most of the switchboards, she couldn't even recognise any difference from a normal home in usability. Normal switches are easier to find in the dark by touching and does not emit any lights and disrupt sleep. Touch based switches that one of my friend installed at his home had given him more irritating experiences it seems. Since Amie’s method of switch integration involves using a transmitter inside the existing switchboard, it feels the same as a normal home from the outside. For the cool factor, Amie provides a wall mount tablet preloaded with the Amie app besides switches. This tablet will work also as a status tracker and scheduling control.

The advantages of home automation

Advantages are many and below are some which comes into my mind while writing this blog:

  • I can configure which wall switch controls which device in my room through Amie's settings.

  • I can monitor which device in my home consumes the most power or which one stays on for the longest, and accordingly plan my usage to reduce electricity bills.

  • I don't have to getup from my bed to reduce fan speed, adjust AC, or turn off bedroom light - I can do all that by speaking freely to the voice integration.

  • I can view the status of devices at my home from anywhere in the world through Amie's app - and change their status too, if I want.

  • Any wall switch can be turned into a master switch to turn on a set of lights together during emergencies.

  • By connecting motion sensors to Amie, lights can be set to go on automatically if it senses movement at set times.

Amie smart home system is something to be experienced and if interested, I suggest you get in touch with the team who can guide you to nearest demo center.

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