Hotech VoiceMe II Home Control System First Look
- Product Name: VoiceMe II
- Manufacturer: Hotech
- Review Date: August 23, 2010 14:25
- MSRP: $300 (sells for 199.95 pounds in the UK which we converted to US dollars)
- First Impression: Pretty Cool
- Voice control remotely
- Hands free activation
- 4 Users & 120 commands allowed
- Up to 10 operations can be activated by a single voice command at the same time
- Auto mute, macro ,and command review & confirmation functions
- Selection for key word response
- Confirmation of key word
- Multi-directional infrared emission
- Manual or voice command operation of setting up
- Time delay for signal transfer
- AC power adaptor optional
- Friendly user interface both in setup and operation
- >95% accuracy rate of voice recognition
- Batteries optional
Sometimes a product comes along that is just too interesting to be ignored. No matter that the email we received was looking for distributors and dealers (which is usually code for "don't expect to see this product soon if ever"). No matter that the marketing video makes outrageous statements ("sometimes you come home from work so tired you don't want to move a finger"). What's important is that the product is so cool, we don't mind.
We're sci-fi fans. While we might not always agree on which is the best series, we can all agree on one thing - having a computer that talks to you like on Star Trek would be awesome. When we saw what Hotech's VoiceMe II could do, we were understandably excited. VoiceMe II is a voice-activated and controlled universal remote. We were a little confused by the whole operation until we saw the marketing video:
At first we thought you'd have to have IR emitters running all around your home but that doesn't seem to be the case with the VoiceMe II. Instead, you put the unit in the room and it blasts the IR signal in multiple directions. While the advantages of this design are obvious from an ease of setup point of view, it is also pretty limiting. The means that the VoiceMe II has to be in line of sight of every device you want it to control. While Hotech seems to want to market the VoiceMe as a whole home solution, you'd need to pair it with aftermarket IR extender for any devices that are out of the room. On top of that, there is only the one unit and it doesn't seem to be able to interact with other units so if you wanted it to control devices in multiple rooms, you'd have to figure out some way to get your voice and it's voice to the other rooms. Depending on the price of the VoiceMe II, it may just be simpler and cheaper to buy more than one.
That being said, let's not downplay the coolness of the VoiceMe II as a theoretical home theater controller. While we don't know the exact numbers, we're sure there are more than just a few home theaters that have been dressed up to look like one of the many Star Trek ship decks. Since you can rename your VoiceMe to respond to any command you like, I'm sure more than one person (including us if you had to ask) will use the word "Computer" in the command. While you need to address the VoiceMe II each time you want to issue a command (rather than having a conversation with it, like on the show), it won't be exactly the same - but then again, neither is a flip phone just like a first generation communicator. That doesn't stop us from pretending.
The VoiceMe II can be programmed with up to 120 commands and can recognize four different users (a marked improvement over the original VoiceMe) and claims a greater than 95% accuracy for voice recognition. Up to 10 operations (think macros) can be activated by a single command. The VoiceMe II has the ability to delay commands as well which is important, so that multiple commands to the same device aren't ignored if the device isn't ready. They show the VoiceMe II doing everything from controlling lights and AC to turning on and off your stereo. They even show it changing the volume for you. While we doubt many would utilize the VoiceMe II for such mundane tasks (the global 'mute' function is nice though), as a way of powering up and down your home theater, it has undeniable appeal.
While we don't know if the Hotech VoiceMe II will ever hit the US shores, you have to admit that it does sound very cool. The original VoiceMe was criticized for only recognizing a single user and slow response. Well, the former has been addressed and the latter - well, of course it takes long to control a device with your voice as opposed to using a remote. But this isn't about speed is it? It's about being able to do something that no one else can do. The VoiceMe II has some drawbacks - it can't be integrated into an existing IR system nor can you connect IR emitters to the unit for controlling devices out of your line of sight. You have to program the device through a combination of button pushes on the device and entering your voice command. Getting IR commands into the remote is done by actually pointing the remote at the VoiceMe II and hitting the button. For the (theoretical) price they are asking, there should be some sort of computer interface where you can upload all the codes of your devices. Cumbersome programming and multi-room integration aside, controlling your home theater with your voice? That would be cool. If they could get someone that sounds like Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, all they'd have to do is show up at ComiCon and watch the money roll in. All we have left to say is computer... end article.
For more information, please contact www.hotech.com.