Owners of the Amazon Echo and GE kitchen appliances go their worlds rocked recently with the announcement that they can use a new Echo skill called Geneva to voice-control their appliances. That’s right, the future is coming at us quickly, and we better get ready.
Ever been working in the kitchen with messy hands and realized that you forgot to pre-heat your oven? You used to have to stop what you were doing, wash and dry your hands, turn on the oven, then start your task all over again. Well, now you can simply speak a simple comment to turn the oven on, without ever taking your hands away from whatever it is you are making.
For many, that alone is enough to have them price checking and ordering whatever they need to in order to take advantage of this technology. Others will want more information, which is what this blog is all about.
Which Appliances Allow Voice Commands?
While smart home technology is taking off, we’ve seen that there haven’t been too many recent options for WiFi connection on larger kitchen and home appliances. GE is changing that with this announcement, since the Echo integration will work with about 70 of their appliance models. Those that have older models of GE appliances, that can’t connect to Wifi, won’t be able to upgrade. But, if you have a dishwasher, fridge, over, or washer and dryer that can already connect to WiFi, then you can integrate with the Echo. Certain features of the appliances will still require the user to turn them on manually – such as stovetops – and others might require remote access before use.
What is This New Feature?
The new feature is called Geneva, and it is a ‘skill’ that can be activated through your Echo. Geneva is the program that GE developed so that it can integrate with the Echo. Geneva is an intelligent, and vast, skill, since it works with a wide range of the WiFi-connected GE appliances.
The feature allows users to do a ton of super cool things, even beyond preheating the oven. You can also check on your laundry or dishwasher, and use the Keurig that is built-in to your fridge.
How does Geneva Work?
The Echo allows developers to add skills to a library that users can shop. Users can activate the skills that they want to use on the Echo, and the rest remain dormant. Geneva is GE’s skill that allows its appliances to connect with the voice commands from the Echo. So, a user can give a command to their Echo by saying “Alexa, ask Geneva to pre-heat my oven.” Alexa is the code word that wakes up the Echo, and Geneva is the code word that activates the GE skill.
What is This Really Good For?
Fair question. Convenience is the first thing that comes to mind, though enabling laziness is probably the second thing that comes to mind. Consider this though: someone with limited mobility – they have a leg or foot injury – can check to see how much time is left for their laundry without having to get up multiple times; someone with limited vision can use voice commands instead of trying to see and navigate through small menu options.
Photo by: Jeremy Levine