Who’s in control in your home?

Throughout the last few years, a heated competition has arisen among the leading technology companies. Many of these enterprises, including Google and Amazon, want to control the “home”. What does this mean? It means that through Google’s Nest thermometers, I can control the temperature of my house from anywhere in the world. And Sonos, I can choose any song to play through the speakers in my house with just the push of a button. It means that I no longer have to watch the weather channel in order to learn the forecast for each day of the week. Rather, I can simply ask Alexa, Amazon’s black, cylindrical gadget that is plugged into my home network and can access the internet to answer almost any question or carry out many pre programmed tasks. All of these innovative technologies permit users to control various aspects of their home using either their phones or their voices, which can command Siri or Alexa, two friends of mine whom I often call upon to perform household chores.

Nest, a company that Google purchased in 2014 for $3.2 billion, has a mobile application that allows users to change the temperature of individual roo ms in their homes using their phones. Accommodating people’s room temperature preferences is now easy and efficient. My sister, who prefers to sleep in an arctic climate, has instructed Nest to set her room temperature to 64 degrees every night at 11 pm. Similarly, when I am away from home during the winter, I can notify Nest to raise the temperature in my house so it nice and warm upon my arrival.

Sonos has revolutionized the home stereo system. Wireless and easy to operate, Sonos allows users to play different music in each room of their home. Using Sonos from my iPhone, I can connect to iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, or even YouTube to play a song on the stereo system. This application is especially useful if home occupants have conflicting or different musical tastes. For example, my friend is a fan of rap music, while his mother and father prefer listening to rock. Using Sonos, he and his parents can each listen to what they like. Sonos, has recently installed a feature that allows users to treat their stereo system as a PA system. Speaking into my phone, I can dictate a message and beam it throughout my whole house. My friend’s father uses this feature to notify everyone when dinner is ready or to announce that there is no more hot water for showering. There are so many applications that revolutionize the home environment. Using MyHome, I can turn my phone into a television remote and change channels, increase the volume, go to Netflix or Hulu, or perform any other task that my remote can. If the television remote is missing, I just take out my phone, log in to MyHome, and I’m set to go.

The Amazon Echo is my favorite. Released in November of 2014, it allows people to connect to the internet through an interface called “Alexa” to find information. By saying “Hey Alexa,” I have the machine’s attention. I can ask Alexa who won the Yankees game or how the traffic is on I-95. I can have Alexa read me a book on tape or have her order a particular item on Amazon. The Echo can sync with Amazon or Amazon Prime, allowing users to order anything on the Amazon website. Alexa is also compatible with Nest as well as Honeywell, and can change the temperature in a specific room in the house, or all the zones together. Amazon is creating other alliances for Echo every week.

These innovations have revolutionized the way we can perform tasks in our homes. But are we getting lazy? Shouldn’t we check under the couch to find the TV remote instead of pulling out our phones and using MyHome? Why can’t we get up from our chair and change the temperature by hand? Is using a computer to order items on Amazon already obsolete? Maybe we should stop allowing technology companies to control things inside our homes. After all, we are the homeowners.

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