The lowly light switch is getting a 21st century upgrade, thanks to home tech company Ecobee. As you might expect, there's a voice assistant built right in.
The new Ecobee Switch+ features Amazon Alexa, bringing voice-enabled technology and a speaker to an otherwise mundane household fixture.
The Switch+ is anything but mundane. You can ask it to turn on and off the lights, play music, or tell you what the weather will be like today. Its motion sensors know if you're in a room or not, flipping off lights if it detects no one is there so as not to waste power. You can also set a timer for when lights go on, such as sunset for outdoor lights.
Through a software update launching in the summer (between June and September), the Ecobee Switch+ will even work with the Ecobee smart thermostats to regulate room temperature.
If you're not an Alexa user, the good news is the Ecobee Switch+'s voice controls aren't beholden to Amazon's voice assistant. The switch also works with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, SmartThings and IFTTT.
But Alexa is at the heart of the Switch+, and because it features far-field voice recognition and Amazon Voice Service, you're getting much the same technology found in an Amazon Echo, only now mounted to your wall. And, because the switch responds to your voice and talks back to you, it's really as if you're using an Echo in another form.
It's no secret Amazon Alexa is showing up in more and more home products. Other light switches are compatible with the voice assistant, and it can be found in loads of other smart home devices, from refrigerators to alarm clocks. The Ecobee Switch+ is the deepest integration we've seen in a light switch yet, however, and likely not the last of its kind.
The Ecobee Switch+ price is $99 in the US and $119 in Canada, or about £70 / AU$125. The light switch is available for pre-order today from Amazon, The Home Depot and Best Buy, and goes on sale in North American retail stores on March 26.
According to Ecobee, you can install the Switch+ yourself in about 45 minutes.
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