Amazon Echo Adds Support for Ceiling Fans; Big Ass Fans Brings Voice Control to Haiku

Ceiling fans added to roster of products that can be controlled natively through Amazon Alexa platform. Voice control now available for lights, thermostats and smart fans, including Haiku from Big Ass Fans. (Julie Jacobson / CE Pro)

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Slowly but surely, Amazon Alexa – the voice-recognition platform behind Amazon Echo – is adding native support (i.e., not Skills Kit) to more smart devices. First it was lights, then thermostats, now smart fans.

The ceiling-fan driver should be available to the public in April, according to Big Ass Fans, which “spearheaded all efforts with Amazon on this integration,” says BAF spokesperson Rachel Sawyer. “Initially, we reached out to Amazon about creating this integration and worked with them exclusively to get this on the market.”

BAF, which offers the IP-controllable Haiku smart fan, as well as smart LED lights and, in the future, connected HVAC systems, is expected to be the first to implement native Amazon Echo voice-control for fans, beginning in May. (Does anyone else even make a connected fan for the home?)

Sawyer tells CE Pro, “We brought to the table over a year of research from our SenseME [IP control] technology as well as our Rolodex of beta testers.”

Since SenseME was introduced in 2014, compatible fans have been integrated with a few third-party cloud-enabled devices such as Jawbone’s UP fitness trackers and Nest thermostats.

RELATED: Big Ass Fans Creates Haiku Smart Home Ecosystem with Affordable Fans, Smart Lights, Multizone HVAC

The company’s consumer-oriented Haiku ceiling fans with SenseME feature built-in temperature, humidity and occupancy sensors for automatic speed adjustments; however, with simple voice control, users will be able to override the auto-pilot simply by telling Alexa to “Set fan to 4” or some such thing.

After all, when you return home from a jog, who has the energy to track down the fan controls for a quick cool-down? And don’t you just want to tell your ceiling fan to stop spinning when you wake up in the morning to the chilly air?

“Voice control cuts down the number of steps required by the user to get what they need, and in the long run, that will lead to broader adoption of the connected home,” says Landon Borders, director of connected devices, Haiku Home. 

Big Ass Fans demonstrated Amazon Echo integration at CES 2016 in January, but only for lighting controls. Neither thermostats nor fans were supported natively by Alexa at the time.

Now that there is voice control for smart ceiling fans, we wonder: If you build it into Alexa, will new smart fans come to market?

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson

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