VoicePod Shuts Down Amazon Alexa Voice Engine for Control4

VoicePod had a promising voice-control solution for Control4 home-automation systems using Amazon Echo (Alexa), but the company knew the ‘big boys’ were coming.

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VoicePod was a pioneer in voice control for Control4 and Crestron home automation systems, starting in 2013 with a tabletop device containing a microphone and speech-recognition engine, and then a mobile app for voice control via iOS devices.

The company's most recent innovation was an Amazon Alexa (Echo) app for Control4 that had users and dealers all atwitter when it was announced earlier this year.

Today, however, VoicePod founder and owner Ted Rosenberger announced on c4forums.com he was closing the business because it never was profitable and, well, the “big boys” are coming. Control4 itself will likely reveal its own Alexa-powered solution at CEDIA 2016 in a couple of weeks.

VoicePod emerged from Rosenberger's other business, HouseLogix, a smart-home driver-development firm that was acquired by SnapAV earlier this year.

Here's how VoicePod is described in the Alexa Skills site.

Control your high-end Control4 home automation system using your Echo! The VoicePod Alexa skill supports a range of voice commands for controlling lights, scenes, doors, thermostats, shades, security, AV equipment and more. Just ask Alexa to tell VoicePod to “turn on the bedroom lights or Set the temperature to 72 degrees in the family room and VoicePod’s cloud server interprets and relays your request to your home’s control system. This skill requires dealer installation of a Amazon Echo driver for your system. Contact your home automation dealer for more information.

Below is Rosenberger's memo.

All:

As many of you know, we've been testing our VoicePod for Alexa app for many months and the feedback has been very positive on our sophisticated cloud-based app solution.  Yet, you have probably noticed that there doesn't seem to be much movement on it.  

Unfortunately, as of today we have decided to close the voicepod business and all servers and services have been shut down. The venture was never profitable and all principals have moved on to more promising ventures. We also believe that Control4 is going to be releasing their own support for Alexa soon and this discouraged us from investing further.   

We are proud to have been pioneers in voice controlled home automation. But at this time, with the “big boys” including Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon all working on this technology, it's hard to know how and where to invest. R&D for cloud-based solutions can be very expensive and selling drivers for a few hundred dollars can be a difficult business model.

We've had a good run with VoicePod but we're not investing further in it at this time. If any of you have serious interest in acquiring our code base and taking over the VoicePod legacy, we'd be happy to chat about that topic. The tabletop product will continue to function but the mobile products and Alexa beta programs are shut off and closed as of today.

Thanks for understanding.

Ted Rosenberger

Co-founder

HouseLogix and VoicePod, LLC

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
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Julie Jacobson:

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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