Owning a voice assistant is one of the most awesome technologies that I have enjoyed so far in my smart home journey. We will share the benefits you get out of owning a voice assistant.

I’m sure you agree that conveniences like getting answers to questions, turning lights on or off, and controlling various devices with smart plugs, blinds, opening and closing your garage door and much more, is entertaining and very useful at the same time.

voice assistant search illustration

What is a voice activated assistant?

At its core, it’s a software program that can respond to your command and either provide a verbal response or execute a command to another smart device in your home.

Usually, this software resides in a housing with a built-in speaker. The other part of the hardware in this speaker unit is able to connect via WiFi and Bluetooth.

Connectivity to your smartphone allows other ways to interact with it. Examples include changing personal preferences with an app or to stream music through it.

So, how does a voice assistant benefit you?

There is a range of excellent features that you can find in most of them.

Here are some of the more important features and benefits that you can find with most brands.

Aesthetics to match your taste

With most of them, you to customize its appearance. You can change it to a variety of fabrics and wood veneers.

This allows you to enjoy a slick looking electronic device to blend in with your home’s decor.

Features that make them easier to use

  • Learning about the way you speak: It’s always getting smarter to learn your vocabulary so it can understand you with greater accuracy the longer you use it.
  • Excellent at hearing you: Far-field microphones that can pick your voice up in noisy environments and from quite an impressive distance.

For your Television

  • Voice control: It can control your TV to alter the volume or watch your favorite movie and to change the channel. You can even ask to see the weather.
  • Don’t miss your favorites: Alarms can be set for a TV show or other media being released.
  • Security: Verbally ask for your TV to stream your security cameras feed to your TV.

Some other devices you can control

  • Home security: Operate your door locks by giving a voice command.
  • Comfort: Tell your smart thermostat the temperature that you would like your room set at.
  • Convenience: Command your assistant to turn on your coffee maker using a smart plug or turn on the kitchen lights when getting out of bed using smart lights.
  • Hands-free calling and messaging: Make calls from any compatible device even dictate a text message.

How far away can Alexa hear you?

I have conducted my own personal test with my Amazon Alexa device. I have found that I could activate and conduct commands from about 35 feet (10.5 meters). This is with no background noise, speaking with a slightly louder than normal voice, and being in a clear line of sight.

That dropped significantly when I had my 3 and a half-year-old son making his usual noise and the TV playing. I found under those conditions that the working distance reduced down to about 13 feet (4 meters) while speaking loudly.

Access media and other information

  • Anywhere in the home: Play music on any smart voice activated home assistant’s speakers located in different rooms. Make sure they are on the same Wi-Fi network. You can group them to ask your assistant to ‘play music upstairs’ or ‘play music in the basement’. All the rooms grouped in that area will play your music.
  • Multiple sources of music: You can play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and more. You can even ask by song or artist.
  • Weather and news reports: Get caught up with the weather, news, sports scores or your favorite podcast by asking the question.
  • Cooking is easier: Find and make your favorite recipes by using step by step cooking instructions from your assistant.
  • Flight information: Flights incoming or departing with their times.
  • Transportation times: Request travel times on foot, bike, car or plane.
  • Other information: Receive answers about finance, facts, info, calculator, translation, unit conversion, nutrition, and dictionary.

Personal management

  • Schedules: Schedule appointments on your calendar.
  • Order online: Do your online shopping.
  • Voice memos: Ask it to remember voice recorded notes.
  • Find your smartphone: Give the command to call your phone when you have misplaced it.
  • Grocery shopping: Order everyday grocery items for delivery.
  • Establish a routine for the day. Curation about appointments, commute, news and weather for the day.
  • Set a timer: Set a timer countdown for anything. Maybe to remind you to remove hard boiled eggs out the boiling water?

And of course, it doesn’t end there. Consequently, with new technologies coming out all the time to make use of these types of devices, it’s fast becoming the cornerstone of any smart home.

Various voice assistant brands on the market

Currently, the two main manufacturers you will find is Amazon and Google.

I won’t debate which one is better seeing that I think it’s very much a personal preference thing.

They are both good voice activated assistants, each having their strengths and weaknesses.

If you haven’t used one as yet and you are wanting to know which one is for you, I recommend purchasing the smallest from each brand. Then you can find out which one suits you best.

Alibaba has introduced their assistant late in 2017, called AliGenie. How this assistant is going to perform compared to the existing products on the market will be revealed in time.

Here’s a PDF download of a few basic Alexa voice commands:

Download PDF

Keep it on your smartphone, in case you need a refresher of some of the commands you can use.

Privacy concerns about Amazon Alexa and Google Home

There are many speaking up against the lack of privacy associated with these types of devices.

There have been lots of accusations and various alleged reports of conversations being leaked through voice assistants.

So much of what’s out there is honestly difficult to know whether or not it’s true.

For me personally, it simply isn’t an issue. This is simply because of two main reasons:

  1. My life cannot be of such interest that eavesdropping on my family conversations would be of any value to anyone.
  2. I lead a basic and straight forward life. I don’t partake in criminal activity nor anything else that would be considered out of the ordinary.

Keeping this in mind, does it really matter that someone in the manufacturer’s company can hear what I’m saying? Even if the conversations get given to anyone else.

If you are truly concerned with your privacy, perhaps one of these products just aren’t for you.

With all that being said, how can we be sure that other devices aren’t capable of listening in at any time?

So, to be fully truthfully private, you will have to give up a lot of modern-day conveniences.

So, you would have to ask yourself whether or not it would be worth it.


I use mine for music and reminders more than anything else. They create a better environment when doing chores at home and being able to ask for any music I feel like at the time.

I must admit, I do enjoy playing an occasional game or two with them.

The only thing I wish I had, is more smart devices that I can connect to a voice assistant. Then I can control them using this awesome voice technology.

I’m sure if you start using one, you will soon enjoy the conveniences that it provides.

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