For those not in the know, ABB is one of the largest engineering companies in the world and is considered the world leader in power and automation.

At the recent IFA Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin, they unveiled a voice-activated home automation system that accompanied their «Free@Home» smart home offering. The company claims that it is one of the most advanced voice systems in the world.

We’ll take a look at what it is and what it can do for you.

What is Free@Home?

Free@Home launched last year and was the company’s attempt to bring its automation expertise to the mass consumer market.

The system is designed to be able to control all aspects of the modern smart home. from blinds to lighting and from central heating to security systems. It can be controlled via a web interface, smartphone/tablet app or wall mounted devices and gives owners the ability to control their home from anywhere in the world.

He also uses «scenes»; users can pre-program different environments into their system, allowing them to change the overall feel of a room at the touch of a button.

The only drawback of the system is that it requires an electrician or wholesaler to install it. It is not designed for home use in the same way that SmartThings projects. .

Why is home automation voice activation so special?

ABB’s latest addition to the system, Voice Home Automation, allows consumers to use voice commands to control more than 60 home automation functions in their homes. While voice activation itself is not a new concept, it is the built-in intelligence of ABB’s offering that has led reviewers to call it «the most advanced in the world.»

The firm used a hybrid voice recognition solution that is capable of understanding grammar speech and statistical speech. In practice, this means that you can give him commands and talk to him as if he were a normal person — phrases like «the bedroom light is on» and «can you turn on the light in my bedroom» would have the desired effect.


In addition, the system does not need to be trained — instead, it adapts its understanding of your commands based on the words entered into the Free@Home parent system. For example, you can enter «John’s Office», «Rachel’s Bedroom» and «Upstairs Area» in Free@Home and the system itself will take care of the rest.

The combination of grammar-based speech and named rooms means you can ask yes/no questions like «Is the back door closed?» «Are the curtains open in my bedroom?» And “Will there be central heating? later? «.

The product will now also understand the logic «If…Then…». This is more useful than it first appears; imagine walking out the door and saying, «If I’m not home by 6 pm, turn on the outdoor lights» or «If it gets hotter than 25 degrees, turn on the air conditioning» as you walk out the door. ,

Finally, the system includes voice responses to let you know that your request has been completed. For example, if you say turn off the light upstairs, you will hear «Light upstairs off» as soon as it’s done.

Speaking at the opening during the IFA event, ABB manager Axel Kaiser had the following to say:

“Our goal is to make home automation easier than ever… We continue to add functionality, and our latest voice activation brings even more comfort and convenience to users. When you get home after dark, you can just give the command: «turn on the lights in the hall» and turn on the lights, or when you leave the house, you can call: «turn off all the lights» and you’re done.

What are your alternatives?


In some ways, Control4 is a more complete smart home offering than Free@Home. It has been designed to integrate with a number of well-known brands such as Sonos, Nest and Roku and works on a «theme» basis throughout the day.

For example, at 7 am during the work week, you can program your coffee machine to start, the thermostat to rise to 20 degrees, and your favorite songs to play around the house. Alternatively, you can program a «night» theme that will turn off all lights, turn off the thermostat, and sound the alarm when you get into bed.


The HomeSeer system can control lighting thermostats, door locks. garage doors, water valves, energy monitors and security cameras.

Like Free@Home, it includes voice control — though the system isn’t quite as smart. It will also give you verbal messages for alerts and announcements, and you can even ask it to give you voice reminders!

The controller will refund you $700 on their online store.

Samsung SmartThings

We embraced SmartThings projects in more detail, and we’re big fans of what it has to offer the average home user.

Its biggest selling point is the price — the hub is only $99, making it significantly cheaper than some of the more expensive brands on the market.

The system works by connecting sensors (e.g. wall outlets and motion detectors) on a central hub and these sensors are then controlled by a smartphone app. A typical sensor costs between $30 and $60.

What system are you using?

What smart home system are you currently using?

If you don’t use any of them, does one of the world’s most recognizable automation brands put you on the market?

Perhaps you are currently using a cheaper system and the new voice automation system made you think about upgrading? What questions do you have for us?

As always, leave your stories, thoughts, and feedback in the comments section below.

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