A few years ago, frustrated at Alexa’s inability to understand our spoken English, my wife unplugged all of the Amazon Alexa devices in our house.
We shifted, in that moment, to being a Google Home house. It worked well for a long time, with one device in each room. It worked especially well since over time, our use cases for smart home devices matured into three fields – asking for the time, asking for the weather, and switching our smart lights. We tried to use them to set timers related to cooking but they would assume we’re trying to set an alarm and ask us to do a voice verification so Google’s system can set cross-device alarms and also take our voice data. Couldn’t ever be bothered.
I’m not one to buy into expensive systems. So Apple’s HomeKit connected devices and Philip’s Hue with it’s expensive Base Station were always off the table.
Instead, I invested in inexpensive Kasa smart plugs to sit between the power and our traditional lamps. These work with Alexa and Google, so the switch to Google Home was seamless.
Every once in a while, while watching a movie or talking really fast and loud (as both I and my wife do), one of the Google devices would chime in. If we were watching a horror movie, it would be exceptionally hilarious that a device sitting in another room would get activated and reply “I’m well, and you?”
But this got tiring over the years and things came to a head recently. With the birth of our little one, we are acutely aware of noises in and around our space. Particularly irritating are cops and firebrigades blasting their sirens in the middle of the night on completely empty streets. Well done Seattle.
Also irritating was the Google Home mini sitting in our bedroom, which continued its random hello’s and offering newly minted capabilities. One day my wife unplugged it. That left two devices to help us out. But we resorted to using the Kasa app on our phones to control the lights.
Last night, the Google Home in our living room decided to get active soon after the little one slept and inform us that it doesn’t have a nickname but we can set one.
I ran to the device and ripped out the power cord.
Now the last device is on its last warning. One peep out of it and we’ll unplug that too. We don’t use it actively as much as the other two devices. But it’s close to where the little one sleeps and so it’s a pretty big threat.
Google Homes have improved over time. But we only have the first gen devices in our home and no interest in buying new ones with improve directional mics. They have also improved in voice recognition after billions of hours of audio inputs. But the random noise is a function of the system, which I don’t expect to improve.
So we are very close to having an unsmart home and being happy with it.