What is a connected or smart speaker?
Called both connected speakers and smart speakers, a phrase dear to many. First of all, a High Tech product , then it's a speaker connected directly to the internet via Wi-Fi. This connection allows you to benefit from an integrated voice assistant.
At the start, the initial main function was the broadcasting of music but it was not interesting. Today several functions have been added to give the best use and get out of a simple enclosure.
Several manufacturers make sound quality their first objective while for these qualities come last.
A connected speaker (often a portable speaker), like the Bluetooth speaker will allow you to listen to music in two ways:
- By Bluetooth from a smartphone or tablet,
- By streaming from applications.
Several forms and models exist, the wireless or portable speaker, the compact speaker, the multiroom speaker, the small speaker or the large.
How it works ?
Wireless speakers use applications called skills. And adding these skills to the Amazon Alexa parent apps for Amazon Echo, etc., Google Assistant for Google, etc. and Siri for Apple, previously downloaded, you can access the desired functions.
Thanks to these skills, we will be able to add interactive functionalities to the speaker: radio, games, traffic, newspapers, etc.
For home automation, it is necessary to activate the skill on the speaker as well as the appropriate application on a smartphone.
What to expect?
There are many uses. The most common are:
- listen to music in multiroom,
- make calls,
- listen to news,
- ask questions,
- program alarms and timers,
- check the weather and sports results,
- manage lists of things to do,
- schedule purchases or make reservations,
- drive the house by equipping itself with the connected kit,
- locking the doors,
- centralizing the control of systems at home,
Piloting is generally done by voice.
The Amazon company, pioneer in this field, presents several models of High Tech articles:
- the Amazon Echo "classic" aka Alexa, ideal for homes ,
- the Amazon Tap, easier to transport,
- the Echo Dot, very small.
Amazon Echo (3nd generation)
- it measures: 148 mm high by 99 mm in diameter,
- it weighs 780 grams,
- it has a dual bandwidth 2.4 and 5 GHz,
- it uses countable Wi-Fi with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac,
- it has a built-in Bluetooth chip.
- Supports A2DP and AVRCP,
- Voice control not supported on Mac OS X,
- Not taken on devices requesting a PIN code.
It has new premium speakers with Dolby sound for a 360° audio experience. The equalizer settings are adjustable and you can pair your device with a second compatible Echo for stereo sound.
The Alexa APK is compatible with Fire OS, Android and iOS. It allows you to:
- Use the voice to play a title,
Consult news, weather, traffic and sports results,
- Control an entire connected house.
Alexa now has skills that are applications intended for the speaker.
The novelty is that this speaker is designed to protect your personal information with the disconnection of all microphones using a specific button.
Echo Dot (3rd generation)
- measures 32 mm in height for 84 mm in diameter for the 2,
- measures 43 mm in height for 99 mm in diameter for the 3,
- they weigh less than 200 g,
Audio: It has:
- an integrated loudspeaker operating as a connected alarm clock,
- seven far-field microphones,
- These are hands-free, voice-controlled devices that use Alexa for a variety of possibilities, etc.
- Object control can be done (home automation).
Google Giant range
The giant has also launched three High Tech products called "Home":
- la Home ,
- la Max,
- la Mini .
He integrated all of his armada, Gmail, Google Photos, Google Drive and others to get the most out of it.
He integrated several features into his devices. Those not listed require the use of other tools and services.
- this connected speaker has no buttons, its upper part is tactile,
- it has a loudspeaker and several multidirectional microphones.
The Home is a voice-activated speaker. She uses the Google Assistant. She perceives the questions and is able to do many things.
It's a premium, smart and connected speaker. Personalization is at the center of Google’s concerns in this device.
It is a premium, smart and connected speaker. Personalization is at the center of Google’s concerns in this device. This is how, in a household of several people, she distinguishes voices and is not mistaken when someone asks her to do something for him.
He's the little brother of the first Google Home. It takes the form of a small pebble running Google Assistant, Google’s artificial intelligence.
It is an entertainment, assistance and control system for connected objects, capable of responding to the user's voice requests. It can also access all the services offered by Google.
- two omnidirectional microphones,
- a 40 mm speaker,
- volume control is done by tapping the sides of the device to increase or decrease the sound.
The only physical touch to the device is on the back of the speaker. It is used to activate or deactivate the assistant's microphone.
Apple already launched its product in 2018: The HomePod which claims to be the rival of Google and Amazon. For this, he bet on the quality of his product.
- it measures 170 mm in height and 142 mm in diameter,
- it weighs 2.5 kg ,
- it is wireless and has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
- seven horn tweeters, each with its own specific amplifier,
- six microphones and deep bass,
- dynamic processing worthy of a professional studio.
He was presented as a “Home Assistant”, to which it is possible to assign a whole bunch of requests ( weather, internet research, news) which it will process thanks to the Siri Assistant.
Here are some of the connected speakers that are currently on the market: We can't speak of a better speaker. There are always improvements.
- Sony LF-S50G,
- Onkyo smart speaker P3 and V3,
- Panasonic SC-GA10,
- JBL Link20,
- Libratone Zipp,
- Harman Kardon Allure and Invoke,
- LG ThinQ.
And then there is a speaker that emerges from all the others. It's the Sonos one. It is certainly one of the best models on the market. It has sound power with impeccable audio quality and stereo sound.
This compact Wi-Fi speaker from Sonos is sold in France but does not yet have all the new features: Alexa, Google Assistant, AirPlay 2 for the French language.
The One de Sonos
- Dimensions 162x120x120 mm,
- Weight 1.85 kg,
- Two finishes, black and white,
- Touch interface.
- Microphone deactivation function,
- Respect for privacy using an LED,
- Equipped with multiple microphones.
Voice control is not supported in more than one country. In addition, skills are added over time. On the other hand, you should know that there are wall mounting kits and suitable supports but which are enormously expensive on the site of the enclosure.
Kardon Harman's Citation One
- Dimensions 140x188x140 mm,
- Weight 2 kg,
- Wireless network 802.11a/b/g/n/ac,
- Built around high quality microphones.
The Citation One is a speaker with sophisticated desugn. It is the ultimate in advanced audio. It is focused on the Google assistant which allows you to:
- Get answers to your questions,
- Listen to music (300 broadcasting services),
- Order your home automation.
The factors that push you to buy this or that speaker are:
- The quality of the voice assistants and compatible applications,
- The quality of the sound, the sound system and the amplification of the loudspeaker or loudspeakers,
- The design, the hands-free kit,
- A speaker inexpensive, at the lowest price.
In 2017, the Amazon Alexa occupied the first place of sales with 70% of the market while the Google Home was placed in second position with 23% of sales.
Since the beginning of 2018, another speaker is talking about it, it is the Sony LF-S50G which has an irreproachable sound quality and other new functions.
The quality speakers, the best connected speakers, portable or not, are built around a Hifi amplifier of a few watts. They use 802.11b/g/n wifi or ac and the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz frequency bands. They are sold with their hands-free kit.
All of them are currently using advanced voice assistants Alexa and Google (OK Google, Bose Surround).
And finally, plugging in your Hi fi speaker is a plus. It allows you to add sound to the home through dialogue thanks to its integrated assistant.
Invasion of privacy
We are taking here extracts from the article of CNIL France (National Commission for Information Technology and Liberties) of 12/20/2018.
The operating principle of a smart speaker goes through 5 steps:
- Step 1:
The user gives an order using a keyword,
- Step 2:
The key word pronounced "awakens" the speaker. Some speakers use voice biometry, that is, to have the user record samples of their voice for one reason or another. This data is collected without the user's consent.
- Step 3:
The user provides his request. There are two possibilities:
. Queries are saved locally,
. The requests are sent in the cloud, that is to say on servers which keep a request history as well as the corresponding data (date, time, etc.),
- Step 4:
The speaker response sentences are first transcribed into text and then synthesized on the speaker,
- Step 5:
The speaker is on standby.
Three essential points must be respected in order not to harm his privacy. These 3 points of vigilance are:
- First point: Confidentiality of exchanges
If the speaker detects one of the pre-recorded keywords, it can activate and save the conversation, even if it is on standby. To remedy this:
. It is necessary to privilege an enclosure equipped with a button of activation and deactivation of the microphone,
. You have to mute the microphone or turn off the device when you don't want to be listened to,
. You have to warn everyone around you at home,
. Above all, it is necessary to supervise children's interactions.
- Second point: Monetization of the ultimate
The enclosure is at the center of home life. Home living habits are discovered in the presence of the enclosure. The advice provided by the commission is:
. You have to connect services that are really useful for you,
. We must be vigilant about everything that is said in front of the device.
- Third point: The absence of a screen
The absence of a screen does not allow us to have an overview of all recorded data. The advice recommended in this case is:
. You always have to go to the "dashboard" to delete the conversation history.
News: Connected speakers
The main news of the moment is as follows:
- It will soon be possible to pay your bills with Alexa. The complete file which also speaks of the skills available in French and the pre-programming of Alexa and Amazon Echo can be found at the following address: Journal du Net
- The Google Nest mini and the Nest Hub max arrive in France. The dossier talks about the differences between the Google Home models, the applications available in French, the Google assistant and how to configure Google Home. View this folder
- Voice assistants can be hacked remotely by ... lasers. The file warns of the danger that surrounds us following tests made on connected speakers and laser beams. The file is here: "Journal du Geek "
- Amazon Echo Input test to connect all your speakers. The Echo Input allows you to add Alexa to an external speaker via Bluetooth or with an audio cable. The test is done by: "Presse Citron"