Smart home speakers have become a revelation over the past few years. After the introduction of the first ever Google Home smart home speaker, more companies have come forward with their very own alteration of a smart home speaker. With various needs and functions for different needs and wants, there is a smart home speaker for out there for everyone.
Having said that, many households in Malaysia are starting to accommodate today’s modern technology. The likes of Google, Apple, Samsung, and even Amazon have their very own range of smart home speaker systems. This provides your home with the possibility of having everything controlled by artificial intelligence.
Smart home speakers are also a paradigm shift towards a more digitally connected world, all thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). This has enabled everyday physical devices to be embedded with additional software, sensors, and connectivity with the internet to exchange data, thus creating a connected and seamless digital ecosystem.
Through IoT, the very idea of a smart home has been born and smart home speakers are now part of that equation. Essentially a wireless sound system, a smart home speaker comes with a virtual assistant who can help make your life and everything in your house better. From controlling the temperature of your air-conditioning to the desired lighting for specific rooms, and even being a virtual butler, a smart home speaker is the next technological advancement after self-driving cars that every homeowner needs.
Arguably the most popular smart speaker currently in the market, the Google Home series set the standards when it comes to smart speakers. First introduced to compete against the Amazon Echo, Google Home made its debut in late 2016, followed by the Google Mini and Google Max in late 2017. The Google Home is a cylindrical speaker while the Google Mini was a much smaller pebble-shaped device and the Google Max is considered the bigger brother of the Mini in a rectangular form factor. All three devices are meant to build the Google virtual assistant ecosystem, featuring similar design languages and features. All three comes with Google Assistant, which can assist you in many things including real-time reports and music. The Google Home series is meant to be the next step in how users utilise Google through voice instead of a keyboard.
Another newcomer into the smart speaker market, the Apple HomePod is Apple’s first ever take on smart speakers. First announced during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference back in June 2017, the HomePod was not released until six months later in January 2018. The HomePod features a rounded, cylindrical shape with a touchscreen at the top with six microphones, seven tweeters, and a subwoofer. It was made exclusively for the Apple iPhone and features many proprietary Apple platforms and technologies such as Apple Music, the iTunes Store, and AirPlay. Unfortunately, the HomePod can only accommodate a single user, as compared to Google Home, which can support various users.
Microsoft is the only one on this list without its very own smart speaker. Instead, it installed the Microsoft Cortana virtual assistant into the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker. Introduced back in October 2017, the Invoke shares a similar look to the Amazon Echo with its long and cylindrical body. However, it is the first smart speaker to support voice calls via Skype. It can also perform day-to-day as well as real-time tasks like weather, news, and traffic reports like other smart speakers. Aside from being a smart speaker, the Invoke is also great as a standalone Bluetooth wireless speaker, carrying three woofers and tweeters alongside two passive radiators to assist in bass performance.
The newcomer into the ever-growing list of smart home speakers, the Galaxy Home is Samsung’s first-ever smart speaker. It made its debut alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note9 and Galaxy Watch. This will also be the first time that Bixby — Samsung’s very own virtual assistant — will be available on another device that is not part of Samsung’s smartphone lineup. This wireless smart home speaker is shaped like a vase with metallic tripod legs. The Galaxy Home also comes with three mid-range and high-range speakers, a subwoofer, and even eight far-field microphones, all with the help of AKG. There is also SmartHub integration, allowing the speaker to connect with various other smart home appliances that are compatible with the Samsung SmartThings platform.
Amazon is one of the first big players in the smart home speaker game with Amazon Echo. The first-generation Amazon Echo made its debut appearance back late 2014 while the second-generation was released in late 2017. Besides the Echo, there are also plenty of other variations, which includes the Echo Dot (a hockey puck-sized version of the Echo) and the all-new Echo Plus. It resembles the Amazon Echo while doubling as a smart home hub. All Amazon Echo products also come with its own virtual assistant Alexa, as well as various speakers and far-field microphones for voice commands.