New smart home technology allows you to text your appliances

In today’s so-called smart home, you can dim the lights, order more toothpaste, or tell your children to go to bed simply by talking to a small Wi-Fi-connected speaker, such as Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home.

But not everyone thinks the future of communicating with the Internet of Things needs to be vocal.

Several major appliance makers have turned to a small Singapore firm, Unified Inbox, which offers a service that can handle ordinary text messages and pass them onto appliances.

With your home added to the contacts list on a messaging app like WhatsApp, a quick text message can start the coffee machine; turn on the vacuum cleaner at 5 p.m.; or preheat the oven to 200 degrees at 6.30 p.m.

“It’s quite fun actually, if you look at your Whatsapp list, for example, or your Viber, or your Telegram right, so see that here, I was texting with my wife, with my family, and this is my vacuum cleaner. It becomes quite personable, likeable, so the device becomes an avatar of the brand,” Ruckert said, adding: “By the way, this is something manufacturers love—they have distributors, but they never have contact to the end consumer. In this case, they can finally talk to the end consumer directly.”

Unified Inbox connects the devices on behalf of the manufacturer, while the consumer can add their appliances by messaging the serial numbers to a special user account or phone number. So far it supports more than 20 of the most popular messaging apps, as well SMS and Twitter, and controls appliances from ovens to kettles. Other home appliances being tested include locks, garage door openers, window blinds, toasters, and garden sprinklers, said Ruckert.

The company is just a small player, funded by private investors, but Ruckert said its technology is patent-backed, has been several years in the making, and has customers that include half of the world’s smart appliance makers, such as Bosch.

For those who often have problems with vocal command systems, Unified Inbox offers a welcome alternative.

“I don’t like to use my voice, because sometimes they may detect the wrong thing. Like, for example, Google: sometimes you say something, then they will do something else, so it might interpret the wrong thing, so with texting you can see, and you can send first, so it’s more accurate,” said a Singaporean who gave her first name Kamsinah, 22.

Ruckert is also working with Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechnic to send updates to family members or staff direct from hospital equipment attached to patients.

(Reuters)

 
 
 
RECOMMENDED ARTICLE

China Takes Back Its Panda, in Secret Soft Power Plot

China Takes Back Its Panda, in Secret Soft Power Plot
READ MORE >
 
 
US

New US Travel Ban on 8 Countries Is Indefinite and Tailored

New US Travel Ban on 8 Countries Is Indefinite and Tailored
WASHINGTON—New, more refined travel restrictions were issued in a proclamation by President Donald Trump late Sept. 24.Citing national ...
READ MORE >
 

Mexicans Pray as Hope Fades for Quake Victims, Toll Hits 319

Mexicans Pray as Hope Fades for Quake Victims, Toll Hits 319
MEXICO CITY—Mexicans packed churches on Sunday to pray for the victims of the country's deadliest quake in 32 ...
READ MORE >
 
US

Trump Calls Out NFL Players for Lack of Respect

Trump Calls Out NFL Players for Lack of Respect
President Donald Trump called out NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem, saying NFL owners ...
READ MORE >
 

Merkel Wins Fourth Term as Far-Right Enters German Parliament

Merkel Wins Fourth Term as Far-Right Enters German Parliament
BERLIN—Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office on Sunday but will have to build an uneasy ...
READ MORE >
 

How to save a choking infant

How to save a choking infant
We all hope we'll never be put in the position of having to save a baby's life, but ...
READ MORE >