Use Voice Activation to Control Your Home (Yes, Really!)

You've met Siri, right? Now meet some other hands-free helpers like her and learn how the cool technology can make life easier in your home.

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The latest generation can more easily understand the typical human voice, says lifestyle tech expert Carly Knobloch, even without the speaker having to slow down or exaggerate annunciation. "The database of language that these devices understand has become massive, and the processing power has become lightening fast, too," she says, "Voice-control products are finally ready for the masses."

Sure, there's a cool factor. But more importantly, voice-controlled home technology can help make life at home easier. Read on for our reasons to adopt the technology.

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Convenience
If you're prepping something in the kitchen and suddenly realize your doors are unlocked, you can lock them immediately, without moving an inch. Another scenario: Enter a dark home with armfuls of groceries, and simply tell your lights to come on, without having to set the bags down.

Comfort
"If you're on the couch watching TV, you don't have to lift a finger to dim the lights, lower the shades, or switch between the TV and the Xbox or the Roku," Knobloch says.

Accessibility
Voice control means independence to people with physical limitations, the visually impaired, or even those who just aren't great with operating screens or remotes. 

Speed
Talking is faster than typing or fumbling with touchscreens and buttons.

Ability to Streamline
"You can build systems to operate multiple devices in concert," Knobloch says. "If you tell your voice-controlled system you're going to sleep, for example, it can then lock the house, set the alarm, lower the shades, and dim the lights, all at once."

Interest piqued? Check out these cool voice-controlled home helpers that were among the first to hit the mass market.

Honeywell Wi-Fi 9000 with Voice Control

Say, "Hello, thermostat," to activate it, then speak one of the preprogrammed phrases to adjust the temperature, such as "Make it four degrees warmer," or "Make it much cooler." You can control via app remotely, too. Price starts at $270

Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Download this program to your laptop or PC, and you can do most, if not all the things you normally do -- send an e-mail, search the internet, open and write a document -- by talking, not typing. $100

ivee Sleek

The first hands-free, voice-activated, Internet-connected home assistant, ivee looks like a digital alarm clock. Ask her questions about things such as worldwide weather forecasts and stock prices, and she'll answer. She'll operate Wi-Fi-enabled devices in your home, and work with automated hubs, too, to control your thermostat, lights, garage door, security system, and more. $200

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