Without macros, voice control is tedious

Alexa + Macro sequences = End-user approval

Voice-controlled TV is pretty cool. And what’s great is that consumers seem to be able to easily comprehend that concept and in general like the idea of it. That’s a massive bonus for us all who work professionally in home technology, audiovisual and beyond. Over the past few weeks, when people ask me what my company does, it’s exactly what I’ve begun to tell them… “We do voice-controlled multiroom TV and audio.”  99% of the time that provokes a positive response and no further description is required. Compared to when I used to say “we do HD video distribution” the responses are so much better and really encouraging to me. And when people from outside ‘the industry’ visit our offices, it’s exactly the demo I show them to win their approval. Our bank people liked it, our accountants liked it, our solicitors liked it, my mum even liked it. During demos people almost always do that nod of appreciation, whilst simultaneously pulling one of those dip the eyebrows and pursing their lips facial expressions.

 

Dumb switchers?

HDMI matrix switchers used to be dumb (dare I say boring?) devices requiring a helping hand from a third-party controller to make them useful in a home setup. In fact, the vast majority of switchers are still like this.

At HDANYWHERE we never liked this dependence on others in the rack to make us truly useful. That’s why we developed the IP-to-IR engine and accompanying uControl universal remote App to add another dimension to what our MHUB systems could deliver in a whole-home AV project. Namely neater TV areas, better audio and easy app control over all the AV, in every room.

 

Introducing Sequences

One of the aspects of developing our own on-board control solution was the ability to create macros (what we call ‘sequences’) to enable single button presses or quick actions via the app, that set in train a series of commands to deliver a desired end result. Usually in the case of HDA: the right source, on the right TV, on the right channel, at the right volume. Oh, and the ability to switch everything off with a single button press.

 

 Alexa + Macrosequences = End-user approval

OK, lets add Amazon’s voice control UI Alexa into the equation. Now, from the outset you need to understand there are two Alexa control types; smarthome skills and custom skills. Smarthome skills are ones made by Amazon, fairly limited and are standard across all compatible devices. Custom skills are unique to brands and their devices. Smarthome skills are fairly limited in what they can achieve for the user. Whereas (in my humble opinion) custom skills allow for much greater leveraging of a device’s full functionality. (An HDA MHUB can respond to both our custom skill and the Amazon’s standard smarthome skill BTW)

In HDA’s case, this is the the IP-to-IR engine and the power of macros! Just like the convenience of a single button press. Macrosequences delivered because of HDA’s on-board technology, plus our custom skill, mean that with a single voice command you can achieve brilliant end-results utilising a mix of AV devices.

 

Here’s the HDA difference:

  • HDA Custom Skill: “Alexa, tell my TV to watch BBC News.”
  • Amazon Smarthome Skill: “Alexa, turn on BBC News on TV in living room”
  • HDA Custom Skill: “Alexa, tell my TV to switch to CCTV”
  • Amazon Smarthome Skill: ISN’T SUPPORTED
  • HDA Custom Skill: “Alexa, tell my TV to pause”
  • Amazon Smarthome Skill: ISN’T SUPPORTED

Basically, what I am saying in conclusion is..

If you can’t trigger a macro with a voice command, it’s going to be a lot easier to pick up the remote.

Thanks for reading this far! If you want to experience the HDA difference in voice control, simply download the latest MHUB operating system (OS7) to your MHUB via the top left corner on the settings page. Post installation, simply ask Alexa to discover devices (or download the MHUB 4K PRO Control Custom Skill) and it should find and add your MHUB. From that moment you will be able to voice control your whole-home AV system.