As the kitchen project has gone live, I’ve been struck by the quality of thinking and execution from Amazon Echo, Nest and Ring. “The Service is No Service” starts in the design phase. And I’ll illustrate the differences to bring out the level of thinking invested by these companies. They all require you to download their app and enter your wifi password.

With Echo, it was simply to plug in and use my existing account. Bingo. Of course the intense level of development to get voice recognition to work to this quality is off the scale. With 100s of “skills” (Amazon’s word for apps) being added every week, you can download new apps at leisure. I feel for the people investing in big speech recognition projects which could shortly be replaced by an Echo skill set if the technology is rolled out into the B2B world.

Connecting Philips Hue was comparatively simple too. Setting up the rooms was all very simple. I haven’t played with the 3rd party disco apps you can download !

Connecting to Alexa involved running up and downstairs to press a button on the Hue hub within 20 seconds. Feels a bit clunky #firstworldproblem.

But the bigger issue is discovering all the bulbs and maintaining that. One of the bedside lamps as never been discovered – you have to read the lettering on the side of the bulb and enter it manually apparently. The fix of switching the lamp off and on 5 times in rapid succession. #notfixedyet

But the lights seem to need resetting regularly as both Alexa and the Hue app seem to loose control.

And online help is pretty clunky when you start to compare it with the others.

Nest I set up with my electrician as he’d wired in the control boxes to the central heating system. Although on the Nest professionals list, that was just because he’d enquired. He’d had no training.

I simply followed the instructions on the phone – this is step by step by opt outs into interactive web pages or videos if stuck. Clip on and initiate and it emits it’s own wifi temporarily which you hook into and then set up your wifi permanently.

Go to settings, enter the required details etc. All very straight forward. Any jargon like “combi boiler” was explained on the links, if required.

They are a work of art, designed by Jonathan Ives I believe – just to touch it, makes you feel it is quality. A bit like the BMW door clunking advert. A great deal of thought has gone into the physical and interface design. The smoke/CO detection dimly lights up the landing at night when you walk under it. Classy touch when finding the loo in your sleep – after asking Alexa why time it is of course!

So the set up was very short and simple. What I haven’t got used to yet is its intelligence. I presumed I’d have to set up a schedule but in fact that just confused it. I should have left it to learn. But with builders in the house more than me, the scheduling has taken a while to settle down. I don’t feel I’m in control of more than the on / off mode just yet. But I can see it’s coming along. The app is very, very clear. #notraining

Yesterday I set up the Ring door bells with remote video. I didn’t realise it has proximity detection too! I had cancelled a more sophisticated proximity device which recognises your phone as the key – despite miles of press voting it top gizmo, the Amazon US reviews show very mixed results and security issues. I bought the Ring and a Yale lock with number keypad & remote fobs. The Yale was ok to set up, no app, but the code sequences to set up were not intuitive, more old school, hard to learn, hard to get so many digits right. I can’t open the door remotely although there is a facility I can buy to link through ITTT but I’m not expecting to need that facility.

On the station platform this morning, my door bell went. I could see one of the builders disappear sharpish and not respond to my ‘good morning’. He’d seen this thing appear overnight and decided to push the button of course. #curious. The next ring came a few minutes later. Chewing gum on the lens! But not quite covering it #LOL #resistance. I’ve set a schedule to turn off the proximity detection for now. The app is very, very clear. #notraining

I did text my friend Mike, who’s been fitting the IKEA kitchen, to say he was in early this morning as the proximity detection had recorded him entering the house. Turned out it was the recording from last night when we tested his code on the Yale lock. #readthetime

But to the most impressive bit. The Ring came in a beautiful pack with a masonry drill bit of the right size and a tiny spirit level that fits to the back plate. And so the physical set up was all taken care of. Even I fitted them straight and level. #hamfisted #DIY=DontInjureYourself

Delay whilst running through the set up of each device meant I was offered links to interactive videos for the next step. It was so well done.

So all in all, we’re seeing companies really think hard about the needs of customers to help themselves. The quality of design of product, of the install, of the app, of the functions. You can tell these are truly customer centred design businesses. It took a lot of effort to buy a Nest physically (no effort to buy online) – everywhere was out of stock #sellinglikehotcakes #notcheap #profitable #eatthecompetition

Next time…the Japanese toilet

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