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.
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?