• 23 JUL 17
    • 0

    Hi-tech Google Home and Alexa not smart enough to be error-free

    Sent in by Richard Giles

    Published in The Australian

    Hi-tech Google Home and Alexa not smart enough to be error-free

    By Sian Powell, 

    Excerpts

    “Alexa, make tea. Now.” Wouldn”™t it be great if we all had our own intelligent robot house assistants to deal with the boring chores of everyday life? “OK, Google, dim the lights.”

    So-called “smart homes” offer varying degrees of automated assistance, and Google Home, launched this week in Australia, is multi-talented ”” it can speak with an Australian accent, translate phrases, do simple sums, get definitions, play music, and list news stories, among other skills.

    Alexa, the tea-maker, is Amazon”™s voice-controlled personal helper and she sometimes features in new-age homes. Sadly, it seems Alexa, being American, has had some trouble with Australian accents and occasionally stumbles. If you ask her to make tea she might play you a Beatles song.

    That could be amusing, but many of the smart-home glitches surfacing now that the techno trend is accelerating are irritating at best and potentially dangerous.

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    Others have complained that because IFTTT (“if this then that”, an automation service for little tasks between internet-connected services) was down, they couldn”™t turn their lights on or the locks in their homes stopped functioning. One tweeter noted that a seconds-long power outage sent her smart home into a spasm and turned all the lights on in the middle of the night.

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    “Some work really well and some don”™t,” she says. “And when you try and combine stuff together, which a lot of people do, it doesn”™t work either. That”™s where the confusion and horror stories come in.”

    One couple, she remembers, had an automated skylight in the roof of their smart home, designed to open and close to take the best advantage of breezes and provide cross-ventilation in the roof space. One stormy day, the skylight decided it was a good time to open wide, flooding the couple”™s kitchen with rainwater.

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