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Smart assistants talking their way into every gadget in our homes

This year LG and Samsung smart TVs are adding Alexa alongside Google Assistant, as well as support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 streaming, while LG and Sony are implementing HomeKit. At the same time, wireless speaker king Sonos is preparing to add Google Assistant in Australia, already supporting Alexa and AirPlay 2.

Major home automation players such as Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, D-Link and LifX have also ensured their smart light bulbs, power adaptors and other internet-enabled gadgets can work will all three ecosystems. Sometimes their devices can connect directly, other times they rely on a smart hub to bridge the gap.

The Lenovo smart clock, featuring Google Assistant, on display at CES last week.

The Lenovo smart clock, featuring Google Assistant, on display at CES last week.

Beyond the usual smart home suspects, even niche household appliances like robot vacuum cleaners are welcoming their new smart speaker overlords.

Ecovacs Robotics’ Deebot robot vacuum cleaners currently obey Alexa and Google Assistant, although linking to Apple’s Siri and HomeKit ecosystem presents more of a challenge, says Ecovacs’ North American general manager Scott Ledterman.

“Every single Ecovacs product supports both Alexa and Google Assistant for smart home integration. We feel it’s a critical feature for making it easier to operate your smart home,” Ledterman says.

“Amazon and Google are both really eager to work with device makers and open up their ecosystems, they’re easier to integrate into your device.”

Meanwhile, Apple’s requirement to certify the HomeKit-compatible hardware was creating an 18-month development cycle which hampered adoption by many smart home providers.

“This is changing, Apple has been looking at new approaches,” Ledterman says. “They are getting more flexible… it’s going to take them a little bit of time to catch back up, but they’re working towards that.

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