Honeywell has revealed its latest smart heating device, a new thermostat that lets you control the temperature in your home simply by speaking.
The cryptically-named Honeywell Voice Controlled Thermostat responds to simple Google Now-esque commands like ‘Hello thermostat, make it cooler’ or ‘make it warmer’.
The thermostat builds on the convenience of the remote control offered by Honeywell’s iOS and Android apps and the manual control offered by a typical thermostat.
Jeremy Peterson, general manager of Honeywell’s EMEA Home Comfort and Energy Systems Division said: “Most people know the feeling of coming through the front door with arms full of shopping bags, keys and small children only to find that their house is way too cold. Or similarly, watching a film on the sofa on a chilly evening and not wanting to get up to turn on the thermostat.
“Now people can simply speak to their thermostat and it responds by changing their heating relevant to how they feel.”
As well as doing your bidding, Honeywell says that the thermostat will also get better over time, learning your routines while getting a feel for the layout of your home.
“The great thing about this thermostat is that it’ll know from the last seven days what the general heat signature of your home is,” said Peterson.
“It will be able to tell if you’ve got a window open or if there’s a change to how things normally are and adjust the heat accordingly.”
The unit will measure things like outdoor temperature and humidity as well as keeping an eye on how warm your rooms are, allowing it to work out how to get to the temperature you want in the most efficient way.
Like all smart heating systems, the Voice Controlled Thermostat attempts to learn how you live and how to best heat up your house. It will shut the boiler off when it’s not needed and power it up in anticipation of when you’ll be waking up and taking a hot shower. It’ll also learn how long it takes for your house to heat up and cool down, so you spend less money on getting the place nice and toasty.
That’s all well and good, but what’s the voice recognition actually like to use? Honeywell has developed and installed proprietary far-field voice control technology on its new thermostat.
While we weren’t able to find out more about this in-house tech or even how many microphones were present in the unit (noise-cancelling systems on phones typically incorporate multiple mics), Honeywell promised that the thermostat will be able to make out your voice across a busy room full of noisy kids, a blaring TV and boiling saucepans.
When we had a go, we found that you have to be patient with it. You’ll have to wait a couple of seconds after saying ‘Hello thermostat’ before you can start barking commands at it. If you don’t wait for the thermostat to respond in the first instance, it’ll get confused and you’ll need to start again. Check out the video below to see how we got on.
The version that’s going on sale here has also been programmed to recognise 12 regional accents from across the UK. We weren’t able to get a full list, but we’ve been told that there’s support for Scottish and Welsh accents. Hopefully it’ll learn to grasp the subtleties of this writer’s West Country brogue.
For those who aren’t within earshot of the thermostat you can send commands to your Evohome set up using the mobile apps. The unit features a capacitive colour touchscreen for those times when simply walking up to the unit and adjusting the controls manually is the best option.
Currently, the new voice-controlled device will not work with Honeywell’s Evohome set up.
It’s a separate service that controls the temperature of every room in the house, simultaneously. Evohome is a zoned system, giving you control over heaters in up to 12 individual rooms, floors and sections of your house.
Honeywell couldn’t comment on whether voice controls would come to Evohome or whether the new voice controlled device could replace the current Evohome thermostat following an update.
The new Honeywell Voice Controlled Thermostat will go on sale for £229 over the next few weeks.