Get Vocal with Home Automation

Get Vocal with Home Automation


Isn’t it funny how accustomed we get to things and don’t even realize it? I gave up coffee for Lent and let me say that it isn’t the caffeine that I miss as much as the absence of the habit itself. A couple months back, I shared the anxiety of being disconnected. I know I’m online a lot, but until the WiFi wigs out or I’m someplace without access to internet, it isn’t so apparent.

Yes, I’m fully lying to myself that I’m not addicted. It’s called denial.

Who cares if I want to immerse myself in technology? It’s pretty awesome if you really think about it. Each year, we find more ways to integrate our lives with technology and it really does make life better. I go to the grocery store and don’t have to fiddle through my purse looking for the loyalty card because it’s right there on my iPhone along with all the other rewards programs and loyalty cards. When I eat at McDonald’s, I load up the app to grab a coupon. If I go to the movies I can get discounts on popcorn because there’s an app on my phone for it. I go for a walk… app for that. Wondering where my kids are… app for that. I could go on and on with the list. At home using WiFi or out and about with unlimited data on U.S. Cellular, I’m set.

I used to think apps were where it’s at, but that’s no longer the case. Yes, they are helpful and beneficial, but there’s more to connectivity than just that what you have at the swipe of a finger. What I’ve found incredibly amazing are the growing number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices available and how useful they are. Not only are they integrated, but many newer devices are actually voice activated. Voice control technology can now be found in everything from appliances to vehicles. According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, 36% of smartphone owners use a virtual assistant daily and 30% use smart home technology. I think more people will continue to gravitate toward these options as they diversify in the market.

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We have a connected thermostat, Philips Hue lights, garage door, Dyson robot vacuum and Holmes humidifier. I expect to add some additional connected items to that list as the opportunities arise. Top of my list is a connected deadbolt because, well, they’re just cool and being able to monitor the doors would be nice. (Can you hear my mumbles and grumbles of having a teenager?) My washer/dryer are just fine, but new ones have features that notify you when your load is done. I also would be happy to add a Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor to my home because during the rainy season, we always fear our basement will flood. Samsung SmartThings are voice controlled through Amazon Echo to keep track of things while you are at home or away. According to Juniper Research, IoT devices and sensors are expected to increase to 46 billion by 2021, a 200% jump. Personally, I think that’s a conservative number because the opportunities are endless.

Amazon Echo Dot is a widely popular voice activated home automation device. -

As an example, this past Christmas, each of our kids received an Amazon Echo Dot to use in their bedrooms. Not as a toy or replacement for an alarm clock (although it could be) but as a tool. They use it daily in multiple ways. Aside from the radio, sleep timer and alarm/reminder features, they also use it to learn about the weather, listen to jokes or riddles, hear daily inspirational affirmations and even their horoscopes. They regularly discover new ways to use it to enhance their lives. Scott asked what I wanted for my birthday and I thought about an Echo Dot or an Apple Watch but I’m kind of waiting to see what comes next. Technology improves daily and it’s always better – and cheaper – tomorrow.

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U.S. Cellular is aware of the growing trend toward voice-activated devices and is working to make the new technology less overwhelming for their customers, even those not interested in upgrading just yet. Their community outreach includes free Device Workshops to assist people with learning more about smart devices and the many features, including voice control. These workshops are open to the public and you don’t even have to be a U.S. Cellular customer to take advantage. Contact your local U.S. Cellular store for details on their workshops.

What about you? What voice-activated or other connected devices have you added to your home?

Nicole Brady

About Nicole Brady

Founder and owner of, Nicole has been involved in social media marketing since 2007. She has partnered with a number of major corporations who utilized her skills to improve their social media outreach and online presence. Nicole has worked closely with brands such as Netflix, Nintendo, Domino's and Disney, has been featured in McDonald's videos as well as Maria Bailey's book "Power Moms". Always a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) and mother of two amazing daughters, if you can't find Nicole, she is probably somewhere being an advocate for playing board games.

97 comments on «Get Vocal with Home Automation»

  1. Ashley says:

    My husband loves stuff like this. We upgraded to a smart thermostat and smoke detectors. I do like being able to control my home from an app.

  2. Liz Mays says:

    It’s cool that they are working to make technologies like these more available. We don’t currently have a lot of smart tech in our home!

  3. Wow, technology is moving so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. It can definitely be overwhelming, and people need to be educated on how to best use all of these amazing new products.

  4. Kristin says:

    Our house is 0% smart! We’re hoping to change that in the near future!

  5. Rebecca Bryant says:

    We aren’t a very smart tech kind of house but it is cool that it is becoming more available to people. I do want an automated vacuum though.

  6. Monica says:

    I’m impressed with your ability to give up coffee (can’t image doing it!!) and you definitely introduced me to a bunch of new gadgets. Our most recent is ALEXA and I love to ask “her” if she is “spying on us!”. 🙂

  7. I have heard so many great and cool things about Echo. I think you are right. Once I tried Siri, I have not since stopped relying on her to find me answers to questions fast and she also does other tasks for me.

  8. WOW, technology is changing and evolving so quickly. I love that these things can really help with our everyday tasks, too. I love using these types of technologies to simplify life. We all can use a helper!

  9. Louise says:

    Technology is moving SO fast isn’t it? I definitely need to catch up. We don’t have any of the apps that allow us to control things in our home when we’re out, and we really should!!

    Louise x

  10. Nancy P says:

    Voice activation is new to me but I find technology intriguing.

  11. Irma Oliva says:

    WOW, technology is changing

  12. HANH NGUYEN says:

    I have a google home and that is it for now.

  13. Kathi Taylor says:

    We are slowly, I mean slowly coming into the tech age.

  14. Brenna M says:

    This stuff is all nice and handy, but if we ever have a true national emergency type situation, it will be useless.
    Not trying to be a ‘Debbie Downer’, just keep it in mind.

  15. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    Hopefully soon we will have a gadget or two to control items in our house!!

  16. Christina Gould says:

    I’m waiting for a machine that understands the command, “Clean my house!” LOL. Thanks for posting!

  17. kate g says:

    I used to buy technology right when it came out because I was excited about it, only to see not that much later better versions that I wished I’d waited for. It’s hard to know when to buy.. If you wait for the latest thing, you’ll never buy anything. So now I wait 6-8 months before I buy just so I know they’ve gotten the kinks out and I’ve read more user reviews. That seems to work for me. In a year or so, I hope everything in my house answers my call…

  18. Julie Waldron says:

    This is all so amazing! We don’t have any voice activation in our home, hopefully in our new one. I didn’t really know you could do so much voice activation until a couple months ago when my brother told me about it. It was funny walking into his house with him last weekend and he said “Alexa, turn on the lights”. 🙂 Technology has come such a long way!

  19. Brian L Gregory says:

    I have not really looked into much in the way of whole-home technology, but this article does give me some interest into some ways of integrating this kind of technology.

  20. VICKIE J HEITMAN says:

    If I were to get one of these products, I would need help setting them up.

  21. joe dunne says:

    just trying to win

  22. I am slowly moving toward an automated home. Alexa was my first venture and I love her (not nearly as much as my wife, though). Now working on interior/exterior lighting. I do tech support for a major company so this technology is right up my alley.

  23. Michelle Fiorelli says:

    I worry about it getting stolen.

  24. Debbie Welchert says:

    I’m 59 years old and I got my first cell phone because my landline wiring went on the blink. So far I hate being without my landline phone and I’m having a terrible time of figuring my cell phone out. I know eventually I will and I hope I’ll like my cell phone as much as my landline phone.

  25. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    If it came with someone to hook it up for you, that would be a game changer!

  26. debbie smith says:

    moving forward with new technology is sometimes scary as anyone can get your info. Not sure i like all technology. Just installed a smart thermosat and we love it!

  27. joe dunne says:

    looks like great convenient tools

  28. Susan Aguilar says:

    I’m kinda behind the times, although I do have an Amazon Echo – I don’t have much more fancy electronic equipment in my house. It’s not that I don’t want it – I think I’m more intimidated by it. I would love to learn more and have the convenience of being able to secure my home and keep myself updated on the latest technology. It sounds wonderful.

  29. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I would love to have a few of the gadgets!

  30. joe dunne says:

    looks useful

  31. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    There are good and bad points of having technology

  32. joe dunne says:

    looks super convenient

  33. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    It will be great when someone invents a computer that will clean the house on command!

  34. joe dunne says:

    would love to get some automation in my home

  35. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    Sounds like fun to have a gadget or two!

  36. joe dunne says:

    hoping to set this up in my house soon

  37. Laura Harrison says:

    My son graduated with a bachlors degree in computer science and excells in everything geeky. His poor mother constantly texts him for help with gadgets. I enjoy what technology can do but if it goes haywire, I’m lost. I’m so glad I have a son that can at least put me in the right direction when it comes to dealing with tech fix-its. I just wish he lived closer.

    1. Nicole says:

      We’re often on the receiving end of those types of calls also. Next time you ask him for help, remind him that he’s welcome to call you for advice on things you’re more knowledgeable about than he is. 🙂 I call my mom when I want gardening help as she’s a master gardener!

  38. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I’ll have to put them on my wish list.

  39. joe dunne says:

    voice automation looks convenient

  40. Susan Aguilar says:

    I would really love to try this. I know I’d become totally hooked on it. It looks like it’s not only fun, but convenient as well.

  41. joe dunne says:

    can’t wait to set this up a home

  42. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    Looks like it would be an asset!

  43. joe dunne says:

    cant wait to do this at my house

  44. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    All of this is very exciting and new!

  45. joe dunne says:

    looks like a great way to control your home

  46. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I love the fact that you can talk to the person at the front door from your phone

  47. joe dunne says:

    voice locking front door would be great

  48. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I need a personal lesson in how to use some of the equipment.

  49. Terry says:

    I am not very tech savvy but would sure love to have technology control many functions in my home.

  50. joe dunne says:

    looks easy to hook up

  51. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    Looks like it would be a great asset to my home!

  52. joe dunne says:

    looks great

  53. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I hope someone gives me one as a present!

  54. Pat F says:

    I just updated my car with new technology… perhaps the house should be next !?!

  55. joe dunne says:

    can’t wait to do this at my house my wife will be thrilled

  56. joe dunne says:

    looks safe

  57. Traci Baker says:

    Amazing things are world is coming to, this sounds pretty amazing might be a little complex at first but like everything else we learn as we go.

  58. joe dunne says:

    would love to do this in my home

  59. joe dunne says:

    would love to control my thermostat from my phone

  60. kate g says:

    This is all so impressive, I’m anxiously awaiting what comes next…we’re getting closer to living like the jetsons which has been my goal for a long time.

  61. joe dunne says:

    would love a connected thermostat

  62. kate g says:

    I want to add all the smart stuff into my house, but I want an integrated system, not a hodge podge of a bunch of things made by different companies because I think it would be easier to learn systems that are all using the same basic interface. I’m hoping a lot of companies will make all their products smart, so I can choose a system and just add to it gradually as they add new items.

  63. joe dunne says:

    technology looks easy to install

  64. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I would still need help installing it

  65. kate g says:

    Voice activated items are so great all around. No more looking for remotes, hands free, and just great for us lazy people.

  66. joe dunne says:

    technology looks convenient

  67. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I wish you could just plug it in and it worked

  68. Karen Propes says:

    I like the idea of controling some things in my home. I’m still new to this type of technology. It would be great if I need to double check doors being locked or stove being off. Not sure how it would work if I left the fridge door open. Give them time I’m sure they will. Enjoyed your review.

  69. kate g says:

    I am so loving all the tech stuff coming out, it’s fun, makes my life easier and I like discovering all the stuff it can do. My only concern is if someone will hack my wifi and turn on my lamps and coffee maker before I want to wake up 🙂

  70. joe dunne says:

    helps with security

  71. Cindy M says:

    I would love to get my husband an apple watch. He would love it!

  72. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    Sounds like a great gift idea

  73. kate g says:

    I would LOVE a dryer that told me when it was done…I am always checking on it to put in the next load….and it’s never done at the same time, so it would save me a lot of trouble and be so much more efficient if it just told me when it was done. The little buzzer on it is not loud enough to hear unless you are in the same room, but if I got a notification, that would be great. My next dryer will absolutely have that smart feature.

  74. joe dunne says:

    looks to help add safety to your house

  75. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    Seems like it would be a great addition

  76. kate g says:

    I’m impressed that U.S. Cellular does free device workshops for smart devices even if you’re not a customer. I can usually figure out the main functions, but only learn of some of the many features a little at a time and some I’m sure I never learn, so this is great to know and I will be taking advantage of it.

  77. HANH NGUYEN says:

    Great tech!!

  78. joe dunne says:

    would love to use this for my crock pot while I’m at work

  79. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I would love to have one!

  80. kate g says:

    I’m kind of waiting for the Apple Watch too, I see the latest ones have health checks (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.). Hoping I can get one for Christmas.

  81. joe dunne says:

    would love to add a water sensor to my basement

  82. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    There’s so much great stuff to try!

  83. kate g says:

    I had a remote control for years that turned on/off anything electric. It used transmitters, plugins, and the remote, then they added security cameras, then timers using a computer program and a plugin wifi transmitter. They were wonderful for years (maybe 18 or so) and very handy. Now they are slowly not working so reliably, and I’m ready to replace it all. What’s so funny to me is that it took so long for so many other companies to make these same products and now the original company I bought all this from isn’t making any of it anymore and has gone strictly to just security cameras.

  84. joe dunne says:

    would love to have my garage door connected

  85. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    Hopefully, someone will buy me one … or more!

  86. joe dunne says:

    looking forward to turning on the lights at night without searching for a switch

  87. Dana Rodriguez says:

    I would love to have something like this for the lights and the thermostat!

  88. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I’m lucky I know how to operate my computer and cell phone!

  89. joe dunne says:

    can’t wait to be able to turn lights on and off when I am coming or going

  90. Joanna P. says:

    I have the Hue lights, Ring doorbell, the echo, one echo dot, and a smart plug. I want a nest thermostat and more outdoor cameras for security.

  91. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I wonder if this goes out if the internet goes down

  92. kate g says:

    I kind of wanted to get something that did a little more than the Echo Dot, but I just saw they were going to be a great deal on Black Friday, so I’m thinking I’ll get one and get something a little more sophisticated later…which I guess means I’ll have to wait a while for the robot butler that obeys me, cooks dinner, cleans my house and does laundry… 🙂

  93. Shakeia Rieux says:

    I’m usually not into things like that, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t try it!

  94. joe dunne says:

    worried about google having so much access to my home

  95. Jennifer Keating says:

    Honestly I could really use stuff like this, because I get so sidetracked in other things that I forget about laundry that I put in, or that I started a load of dishes. If I had appliances that would remind me that they are done, I could get back on track. I wish I could just afford them!

  96. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I wonder if there will ever be something that will make dinner for you

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