As voice recognition gets better and better, the future of the smart home looks brighter than ever. When we think of the home of the future, instantly we think of controlling it all with our voices. That future is now a reality. And while voice control and recognition has been around for a while in various iterations, it’s gotten a bit of a bad rep. That’s because by and large, users find voice recognition technology in devices to be frustratingly slow and plagued with errors. The fact remains, however, that voice recognition is more convenient than typing or hitting buttons on a remote control, smart phone or computer.
Recently, Consumer Technology Association’s chief economist, Shawn DuBravac, stated that in 2017, the word error rate in voice recognition technology will have decreased from 23 percent in 2013 to zero. “The next computer interface is voice,” he added. DuBravac also pointed to the increasing focus on hub devices, like Amazon Echo, for vocal computing, with companies at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in January expected to show products offering more capability with devices like these.
Amazon is putting its Alexa voice assistant technology in tons of devices, such as its Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Tap in an effort to take over the smart home with inexpensive electronics. Apple, of course, is big on voice interaction with Siri, and has integrated Siri in to new Apple TVs so that you can search a movie without having to annoyingly type on a keyboard plastered on your TV screen. Apple also has a framework for smart devices called HomeKit, that can be controlled with Siri as well. You can ask Siri to turn an appliance on or off, or set one of your home scenes, for example.
While these types of devices and technology are very mainstream, home automation companies have been using voice control for some time. Now they are using some of these more mainstream technologies in their own products instead of using proprietary ones. One well-known home automation manufacturer just announced integration with Amazon Alexa, Amazon Tap and Amazon Fire TV, providing homeowners with the convenience of whole-home automation through simple and intuitive voice commands that can activate smart home scenes and control individual devices.
In fact, most home automation manufacturers have incorporated voice activation into their products in one way or another, allowing you to speak different, simple commands to control your entertainment such as “Apple TV” or “ESPN.” Say “brighter” and your lights will ramp up instantly.
All of this is great news for the homeowner, who can expect not only more accurate speech recognition technology next year, but voice control integrated into nearly every aspect of his or her smart home technology. This category will continue to improve until it’s so intuitive, it will no longer be a topic of conversation.
Want to control your home by voice? Come in to Bjorn's and experience it today in our very own Smart Automation House inside our store! See just how simple it can be.
Connect your life with smart home technology by Bjorn's. It's smart, easy, convenient and can save you time and money.
Summer is here, and it's time to get ready to watch the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in all their glory. If you can’t make it to Rio for the real deal, the next best thing to being there is to enjoy your favorite sport or event at home. What better time to upgrade your system? After all, the Summer Games only happen every four years. Here is your guide to make it feel as if you were there, and to getting all the excitement of the Summer Games, wherever you happen to be in the world.
Get it on TV
Before you can watch the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, you need to know how and where to get your content. NBC will be broadcasting the games yet again, on both the NBC and NBC Universal family of networks. TV coverage will start on Friday, August 5 with the always entertaining and visually stunning Opening Ceremony. After that, primetime coverage will be running until August 21. (For updated details and channel listings, visit NBCOlympics.com as the event gets closer).
Get it via live streaming
The Olympics will also be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports Live Extra app, available for your tablet or smart phone. You can check the live streaming schedule at nbcolympics.com/live-stream-schedule
Get it in top quality
More than a billion people will end up watching at least some of the Olympic games at home. In order to fully appreciate them, you need a great home theater or media room set-up. Again, this is a perfect time to upgrade your system. There’s nothing quite like enjoying the Olympics on a big, high-definition TV with a killer sound system. For the best viewing experience, we recommend you scrub up your system. For example, check your cables, wires and settings to make sure you are getting true high-definition. Go bigger if your set it small and consider getting a 4K UltraHD TV an don’t settle for the audio your TV set provides, either. At the very least, amplify it with an external soundbar or invest in a nice surround sound system. Finally, we recommend a really good TV (or projector) calibration so you can make sure your settings are optimized for the best possible image quality.
Come in or call us today. We’d love to get you on the road to Rio in your very own living room.
Summer is the season to get outdoors and see some live music, whether it’s a multi-day music festival or a concert with the family in the park. There’s nothing quite like packing up a picnic for an evening under the stars or getting an all-access pass to see some of your favorite bands live.
Imagine what it takes to execute one of these events. It all starts with the artists onstage, feeding their music into microphones that are amplified and broadcast across a venue, large or small, indoors or out, with the help of amplifiers. Lighting is critical to stage presence, and furthers the artistry of the band. Video is often used to tell a story or paint a dramatic backdrop as the music plays on. Being in that moment and part a crowd of fans can be spectacular and even nostalgic.
For the best possible concert-going experience, we recommend giving yourself plenty of time to get to the venue itself. Parking at a crowded stadium and walking to the venue can take some time. If it’s a band you love but haven’t listened to in a while, brush up on their repertoire by downloading or streaming music from typical set lists to your phone. Check out www.setlist.fm/ before you go to see what’s in store and get reacquainted. Stay hydrated, and most importantly, have fun!
While there’s nothing quite like being there, the live experience can be replicated in the home. For this, we recommend not only listening to live concerts but watching them on Blu-ray. There are some unbelievably great recordings of live performances that include state-of-the-art music mixes, many of them in surround sound. Queen’s Rock Montreal & Live Aid (Eagle Vision), Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (Palm Pictures), Legends of Jazz (WEA), for example, are all iconic performances that you can find on Blu-ray and some of which offer things like Dolby TrueHD multichannel sound and pristine video transfers. We also recommend Roger Waters The Wall, one of the first music-oriented Blu-rays to be presented in Dolby Atmos, the immersive object-based surround sound format. The film details one of the most elaborately staged theatrical productions in music history as Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters performs the band's critically acclaimed album The Wall in its entirety. Not into these artists? Check out your favorite artist on Blu-ray to get a live, surround-sound experience in your own home theater.
For the best live concert experience at home, give your home theater a tune-up. For starters, you want surround sound, which means multiple speakers and a subwoofer. Now’s a great time to upgrade to Dolby Atmos, as we expect this format will become more and more popular for concert DVDs as it becomes more mainstream. (You’ll also love the way it sounds on your favorite movies!) We’d be happy to help you calibrate your speakers to make sure you are eeking out every bit of performance from your investment. It’s amazing how much better a properly calibrated speaker system can sound on your favorite live music.
Whether you are staying home or stepping out for an evening of music, your favorite artists deserve the best possible presentation. Come in or call us to bring the live experience to your home. We’re here to help!
You stream media all the time, but do you really know what that means? In essence, streaming is an alternative to downloading content to a hard drive and storing it there for playback, which can take up a lot of space on your device and take a long time to complete. Simply put, streaming is content—like TV shows and music—that isn’t stored on your device but that is constantly received and presented to you while being delivered by the provider. This means you don’t have to wait for a movie to download before you watch it nor do you have to store it on your set-top box, iPhone or other device. You can playback while subsequent data is being received.
So take this typical scenario. You’ve got your daughter streaming Netflix in the bedroom, your son playing online games in the garage and your wife listening to Pandora on Sonos while you stream Game of Thrones on your iPhone from the treadmill. The unwelcome buffering wheel can bring all this fun to a screeching halt. That’s because with all this great streaming content comes a heck of a lot of data flowing around the home—especially if you want to enjoy high-definition content. The more content streamed, the more the WiFi in your home will clog up.
What you may not know, however, is that there are solutions. Oh yes, you can heal thy streaming snafus with a more robust home network, preferably one installed (and even maintained) by a professional. For large homes, we can install multiple wireless access points to ensure continuous, even coverage across the house. In fact, for homes with a lot of streaming entertainment demands, we often install enterprise-grade routers and other products that go well beyond what your local Internet service provider will typically install. As an added bonus, a lot of home entertainment and networking gear can be maintained remotely. Instead of us coming out to your home on Super Bowl Sunday to fix something, more than likely, we can troubleshoot it over the internet, saving you time and money while adding convenience.
Wondering where to stream music and movies from? There are the old standbys for video like NetFlix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV and Hulu, but then you also have more niche services like Mubi—which has more obscure movies—along with cable network channels that are getting into the streaming game, including HBO Now, CBS All Access and Showtime. Free content abounds online as well with providers like YouTube, Crackle, Funny or Die and others.
For the music lover, you can stream Spotify and Pandora free, sign up for their commercial-free and more feature-rich paid services, or go the iTunes or Google Play route. We are also digging the new Tidal high-resolution streaming service, the first of its kind.
Whatever content you fancy, content abounds. You just want to make sure you can play it. Call or come in today and we’ll get you on the road to smooth streaming for what is going to be a content-rich 2016