For Christmas 2017, my parents got me an Amazon Echo Dot, also known as Alexa. It is handy for making reminders and checking the weather anywhere in the world.
With a few additional accessories, Alexa can also control lights, thermostat, and much more. I know one quad who built his house around voice control through the Amazon assistant. I haven't gotten into any of the environmental controls partly due to expense, setup time, and to give my nurses something to do.
In late July, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation announced a partnership with Google. People with spinal cord injuries, and their caregivers, could get a Google Home Mini for free. The device is the same as the dot, just a little newer than what I have. I didn't see a reason to get it as the Google device would be superfluous with the Amazon version. However, a friend said it was much better and my parents thought it would be useful in other rooms. Therefore, I ordered the free device.
The different color options were nice and a week after ordering, it arrived in the mail. The styling was a little updated, but it looked pretty similar in size to my echo. When I finally had time to set it up, my caregiver plugged it in. The mini promptly started saying to have an app on a smartphone or tablet to start setup. Neither of these devices work with a mouth stick, so I don't have them.
I started searching, via Google, for a version of the app to use on my computer. Alexa had the same need for an app, but has a desktop option and I guessed Google would have the same. However, after using my sit time, and flat time, searching, I only found multiple sources saying Google Home Mini initial setup cannot be done on a computer. The mini went back into its box and has been collecting dust quite nicely.
From this short experience, I of course give Amazon a high rating compared to Google's device. Since I can't even get beyond initial setup, no further evaluation is possible. With both devices, my head keeps thinking of the movie I Robot.
Persons with disabilities, and many others, get it so everything in the house is controlled by one simple device. Then, without warning, the lights turn off, doors lock, and thermostat becomes unbearably cold. A voice comes through the darkness saying control has been taken by some entity and release from the house arrest may happen in the future.
I'm thankful such options exist to help achieve independence for more people. For now, I'm content with weather updates and odd morning trivia from Alexa.