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Insteon Adds Microsoft's Cortana Support for Connected Home

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 3 comments

Insteon announced on Wednesday that it has integrated Microsoft's intelligent assistant, Cortana, into its Windows Phone 8.1 app.

This should be good news for Insteon system owners with a Windows Phone 8.1 device; they will now be able to control Insteon smart products by using voice commands. For instance, if a user is ready to hit the bed, all he has to do is say "Insteon, turn off all of the lights." If the user wants to turn down the lights to watch a movie, he can just say "Insteon, turn on 'Movie Time.'" Yes, it's that cool.

"Using Cortana to control our products is the next logical step as our relationship with Microsoft continues to evolve," said Joe Dada, CEO, Insteon. "Our long-term goal is to give users complete autonomy over their homes and smart products. Adding Cortana into the mix is just another way that we can make people's lives easier."

An Insteon system starts with the $129 hub. This device is capable of sending email alerts, text message alerts, and supports iOS, Android, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Mac OS X (browser only) and Linux (browser only). This device can control Insteon light bulbs, wall switches, outlets and thermostats as well as Insteon motion detectors, water leak detectors and smoke detectors.

Insteon's patented dual-band technology uses both powerline and radio waves, which the company claims provides for high reliability. The Starter Kit includes the hub and two lamp dimmers, and doesn't require hefty installation fees; all users have to do is connect the hub to the local network's router, and begin installing devices. Best yet, there are no monthly fees.

"By making every networked device talk to each other via RF and the power line, Insteon eliminates the need for custom wiring and ensures that every device is always connected," the company's press release states. "Adding remote control and automation to everything from home monitoring to lighting, Insteon's dual-band network and devices allow users to manage the home or office in more variations than any other home automation technology."

Insteon's system allows users to build what it calls scenes. One scene could be labeled as the bedroom, allowing users to control the overhead fan, the light on the nightstand and so on simultaneously. Users can also create schedules so that the lights will turn on before they get home from work. Users can even pan an IP camera from the office to see what mischievous kids can do when the parents are away.

The hub's product page states that it stores the user's home configuration in the cloud, which can be accessed from a number of devices. Need to add a tablet or smartphone? Just download the Insteon app, sign in, and all the settings will be made available.

Insteon announced back in May that it released apps for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8. Exclusive features include visitor mode, live tiles, enhanced camera support, multi-house support, and a dashboard view. Insteon devices became available in Microsoft's online store in June followed by the brick-and-mortar stores in early July.

For more information about Insteon, head here. Microsoft-oriented kits can be purchased here, or at Microsoft Stores nationwide. Live demos will be given in-store in Scottsdale, AZ and Tysons Corner, VA.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Discuss
Add your comment Display 3 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    virtualban , July 17, 2014 2:48 AM
    Cortana, I am still waiting for my sandwich.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , July 17, 2014 2:09 PM
    'For instance, if a user is ready to hit the bed, all he has to do is say "Insteon, turn off all of the lights." If the user wants to turn down the lights to watch a movie, he can just say "Insteon, turn on 'Movie Time.'" Yes, it's that cool.'

    Now lets imagine something cooler:
    "Cortana, turn off all of the lights."
    "Cortana, turn on 'Movie Time.'"
    "Cortana, display the Front Porch."

    Yes I think I instantly made the idea 100% cooler. It's like they don't understand the novelty of just saying Cortana before every command.
  • 1 Hide
    alextheblue , July 17, 2014 4:50 PM
    Quote:
    Yes I think I instantly made the idea 100% cooler. It's like they don't understand the novelty of just saying Cortana before every command.

    But this is Insteon's app and Insteon's hardware. It's using the Cortana API for voice input, basically. It really makes more sense to just leave it as they have it.
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