Meet your new Facebook friend: your smart home

European smart home manufacturer Netatmo has used CES 2018 to unveil its new way to control your smart home: Facebook Messenger.

By texting Netatmo’s dedicated Smart Home Bot, you can request that your heating be turned up, your lights turned on, and even an update on who’s currently in your home. 

The new feature uses natural language processing to respond to text requests as if you were having an actual conversation with your home. 

Who are you texting?

While the process of talking to your home as a sentient being may not be a new thing, for many, interacting with a voice assistant (think Alexa, Google Assistant) is still an unusual or disruptive thing. If you’re in the middle of a film and want to turn the heating up, you don’t want to shout at your Amazon Echo and ruin everyone’s movie-viewing experience. 

The ability to send a message on Facebook Messenger allows for a more discreet mode of operation and means you’re potentially less likely to be misunderstood. 

The feature works with all the Netatmo range that currently includes security cameras Presence and Welcome, a Thermostat, Weather Station, and an air quality monitor called Home Coach.

Additionally, there’s a new range of products coming in 2018 that bear the 'with Netatmo' branding that you'll be able to control using the Smart Home Bot, including smart lights, blinds, and radiators.

This isn’t the first time that you’ve been able to control your smart home by text, as smart home hub Homey has a Facebook Messenger function very similar to Netatmo’s Smart Home Bot, and LG has HomeChat which uses a dedicated app, but seeing a major player in the smart home market introduce the feature could mark the start of Messenger as a smart home control. 

With the range of products in the smart home market constantly expanding, one of the biggest challenges for the smart home in 2018 is going to be a unifying way of controlling all the different devices in our homes in one easy interface. It will be interesting to see which anthropomorphised smart home entity ends up being on top.

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.