Honeywell is bringing a voice-controlled, talking thermostat to the UK, so you no longer have to be either cold or lonely over the winter.
The device recognises 12 different UK dialects, using a cloud-based voice recognition system. Honeywell claims this actually learns variants on existing phrases ("turn on the heating" as opposed to "turn the heating on", for instance) and even entirely new ones – crowdsourcing intelligence, essentially.
As a result, the US version of the thermostat, which has been in the homes of Americans for around 10 months, now recognises phrases such as "Turn on the heating at 5pm for six hours". In the UK, you'll be limited for the time being to the likes of "make it warmer" and "turn off", but it's a start.
The device is said to be able to hear from a reasonable distance: "Even if there are other people around… But not necessarily the upstairs loo, if the thermostat is downstairs" was the scientific way it was explained to us.
During our briefing with the thermostat, it failed three times to respond to the wake-up phrase "Hello Thermostat". However, once this Tomorrow's World moment was passed, it responded consistently, albeit with a "thinking time" delay of about a second.
Talk it out
If talking to inanimate objects isn't your bag, rest assured the voice-controlled thermostat can also be operated via its own touchscreen, or Honeywell's iOS/Android app.
Support is also promised for If This Then That (IFTTT) functionality. For instance, if your smart lighting system is off, the thermostat could also shut off the heating, or vice versa.
Whereas the burgeoning smart thermostat market has certainly thrown up better-looking devices from the likes of Nest and Tado, Honeywell is a company with considerable heft in home heating.
It actually invented the thermostat – according to Jeremy Peterson, GM of Honeywell's EMEA Home Comfort and Energy Systems, who TechRadar met at the launch, the original prototype, developed at Berkeley was known as the "Flapper Dapper".
The Honeywell Voice Controlled Thermostat is £229 and available to order, verbally or otherwise, now.