Home Assistant, the open source smart home system, is getting its own voice assistant. Its founder, Paulus Schoutsen, posted a blog post last week announcing a new project that can localize all the voice commands that control smart devices — without having to connect to a cloud that assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant have. The voice assistant is scheduled to be available sometime in 2023.
Schoutsen also runs Nabu Casa, a powerful first-party cloud service provider for the Home Assistant and also contributes to the development of the free platform. Plus, he makes a Yellow out-of-box hardware solution that can run Home Assistant in your home without having to manually build one on a PC or Raspberry Pi.
No web searches, voice calls or games.
To build a voice assistant, Naboo Kasa needed someone with experience, so it brought in developer Michael Hansen to lead the project. Hansen is the creator of another open source product called Rhasspy, a voice assistant powered by their own community that integrates the technology into whatever solution they try to build.
One of Nabu Kasa’s biggest priorities for the new voice assistant, Shotsen writes, is working in multiple languages. The Home Assistant app’s user interface already supports 62 languages, and Schoutsen hopes the community can help make them all voice-ready.
The Home Assistant audio product initially wouldn’t be capable of the things you’d expect a smart speaker to do. “To keep the amount of work ahead manageable,” Schutsen explains, “we’ll limit the number of possible actions and focus on the basics of interacting with your smart home. No web searches, voice calls or gaming. And certainly no ‘by the way!'”
Voice assistant products have become an expensive category for leading companies
Voice assistants usually have “smart” online functions that are great at things like answering trivia questions or checking sports scores. Alexa and Google Assistant are particularly good at being “know-it-all”/”do-everything” devices, but those capabilities can complicate things if all you need is a smart home controller. Apple’s Siri is the easiest and fastest voice assistant for home commands, according to the edgeJennifer Pattison-Tuohy, but it still requires an internet connection to work, while the Home Assistant solution will be entirely local. Siri also works better if you’re subscribed to Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem (now “Apple Home”), though Matter support now bridges that gap — making all devices work with each other at the same time.
Home Assistant also got Matter support, so in the future he could use his voice assistant to control the devices he’s brought together on one platform. The platform already has a conversation integration that understands text-based speech, and Schoutsen states that command sentences are bundled into a new “intent repository,” which can help the community program their own actions.
However, the Home Assistant-based smart home doesn’t need the cloud, is open source, supported by the community, and will have optional off-the-shelf hardware that you can purchase if you’re not big on programming things yourself. However, whether it will work as well as other high-tech audio solutions is a question we may find the answer to next year.
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