I’m a geek – I know I am. I got stupidly excited towards the end of last year when I found out that I could get something that would allow me to manage the lights in my house using only my voice!
I’d had the Philips Hue system at home for a while. It’s a set of lights that are linked to a hub connected to t’interweb. It allows me to turn my lights on and off with my phone, whether I’m home or away. As cool a trick as it is to be able to change them to anyone of many thousands of colours, the most useful aspect is in geofencing my house so that the lights turn on when I get home after sunset, meaning I’m not fumbling around for a light switch in the dark and hurting myself in the process.
I also liked the fact that I could set “alarms” to make it look like someone was in the house when, barring Moo, it was empty. For someone who spent so much time away as I used to, it was quite a trick (especially cause times and “scenes” could be set randomly).
Ages ago Philips announced (I promise this isn’t a sales pitch – keep with me!) that they would release a hub upgrade that would integrate the system with Apple’s HomeKit meaning that I could use Siri, and therefore my voice, to turn my lights on and off. HOW COOL!
In fact, I thought it was so cool that it was one of those Christmas presents I bought for myself just in case Father Christmas didn’t have time or the intellectual property to make me one.
There are, however, two very first world problems with my current voice activated set-up. The first is that it requires my phone to be on and not having run out of battery. No phone, no app and I’m back to flicking switches. The second problem, as I found out last night, is that Siri can’t understand me when I yawn and speak at the same time:
(Yes, that was far too late for me on a school night. I obviously got carried away.)
I kind of enjoy the irony of once again using my phone by speaking! I remember when texting first started and a guy telling me that it was amazing as he could now send someone a message without having to engage in conversation. Texting became widespread and carriers started offering unlimited texts in their tariffs, and then we started to send messages over data channels and then that evolved in to sending pictures too. I remember being amused when WhatsApp started offering the ability to record sound and send that as a message rather than engage in instant conversation!
With or without a phone, one’s voice is a powerful thing. As Susan Boyle demonstrated on Britain’s Got Talent, it can be used to change opinions, get chances. It can be used to provide help and reassurance. It can be a motivator. And all that can come as much from how you say things as what you say. Like Siri, though, you just have to hope that whoever is listening understands!
I suppose I could sing –
Write a song to share the meaning
Of the love for you I’m feeling.
People saying what they will,
I don’t care.
I’m hearing voices all around,
I’m hearing voices calling out.
What would they say?
What would it change?
I’m hearing voices all around,
I’m hearing voices making sound.
What would they take?
What would they say to me
If I was, If I was listening?
Hearing Voices by Onerepublic