With focus on interoperability, is Nevo Butler a smarter home hub?

We’re all getting pretty used to summoning our various devices via voice by now, be it through Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google Assistant. Now, a new company is getting into the smart home ecosystem. Universal Electronics, Inc. (UEI) is pairing its digital assistant platform for the smart home, code-named Nevo Butler, with TrulyHandsfree voice command capabilities, including customer-branded wake words from speech-recognition firm Sensory.

On paper at least, Nevo Butler looks like a pretty generic but widely customizable remote control, enabling applications like home entertainment control, home automation experiences, and most importantly, interoperability across diverse and fragmented systems — a common problem that manufacturers are starting to think about, given the dozens of apps that some smart home users are forced to endure.

In addition to offering a versatile monitoring and control assistant solution for the smart home, Nevo Butler includes a customizable digital assistant front-end capable of addressing and controlling a wide range of devices. The product comes available as kits that address specific channel needs including smart home security, energy management, entertainment control, and hospitality functions.

nevo butler smart home hub nevobutler 16x9 2

For example, the security-focused kit is packaged with door/window and motion sensors, while the hospitality kit comes with a smart thermostat and a motion occupancy sensor. Universal Electronics conducted product demos of the Nevo Butler at CES 2019, but there’s no definitive word yet on pricing or availability.

“This product gives our customers a powerful platform to offer innovative and new voice-powered services to consumers while they remain in charge of the consumer experience,” said Arsham Hatambeiki, senior vice president of Product and Technology for UEI, in a press release. “Sensory’s voice-recognition capabilities provide a reliable foundation to build new digital experiences in the home that consumers will trust and use on a daily basis.”

TrulyHandsfree is one of the most widely deployed speech recognition engines in the smart home market, having been loaded on more than two billion devices worldwide. The voice control module offers support for every voice UI application with several types of wake word options.

nevo butler smart home hub nevobutler 16x9 2
nevo butler smart home hub options 1

“TrulyHandsfree was purposefully engineered to offer extremely accurate and noise-robust wake word and speech recognition on devices with ultra-low-power configurations to very high-performance components,” said Todd Mozer, CEO of Sensory.

The whole gizmo is powered by nevo.ai, the manufacturer’s proprietary artificial intelligence engine and, unlike many smart home digital assistants, can be operated while offline for the most commonly used commands. While online, the Nevo Butler can curate and interact with common home automation devices such as sensors and thermostats through the user’s home Wi-Fi or Zigbee network.

Smart Home

4 small appliances that have changed the way we cook food (for the better)

These are exciting times for home cooks seeking to advance or simplify their technique in the kitchen, thanks in part to four small appliances that have made a splash in the past few years. Here’s why you should consider buying them.
Smart Home

Walmart slashes prices on Google Home during its Presidents’ Day sale

Walmart slashes prices on Google Home during its Presidents' Day sale. Whether you're taking your first step in configuring a smart home or expanding to every room, Walmart has excellent sale prices for all the key components.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Smart Home

Abode Systems taps HelloTech for professional security system installations

Abode Systems has been expanding into the smart home security market and will enhance its technology with a new partnership with tech support firm HelloTech, which will install its security systems for a fee.
Smart Home

Google Home Mini vs. Amazon Echo Dot: Which smart home speaker is better?

We put the two most popular smart home speakers -- the Google Home Mini and the 3rd generation Amazon Echo Dot -- together and tested them on appearance, audio, and abilities. So which should you buy? Find out how they did in our showdown.
Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

What exactly is Alexa? Where does she come from? And how does she work?

While "Alexa" has become synonymous with products like the Amazon Echo, you can't actually go out and buy an "Alexa." So what is Alexa? How does she work? Here's everything you need to know about Amazon's virtual assistant.
Smart Home

Clean up with these Presidents’ Day sales on washers and dryers

Clean up with these Presidents' Day weekend sales on washers and dryers. We picked the top washers and dryers from six major online merchants, but there are many more choices. Altogether the six sites have 920 washers and dryers on sale.
Product Review

Packed with features, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired makes home security a breeze

With an integrated spotlight, crystal-clear video, and color night vision, this device makes home security a cinch. Here's why we like the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired as a great choice for outdoor home security.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
News

KBIS 2019: LG adds Tovala’s meal platform to its array of smart oven add-ons

LG Electronics USA is launching new partnerships at KBIS 2019, including a new app integration into its smart ovens that will add Tovala's meal delivery and preparation platform. LG also features partnerships with SideChef, Innit, and Drop.
Smart Home

Amazon may be close to opening its first cashier-free store outside U.S.

Amazon could be on the verge of opening its first cashier-free store outside of the U.S. after a recent report claimed the company has secured retail space for a location in central London.
News

Ready for his close-up: Another man was caught licking a Ring video doorbell

A man in Lake Worth, Florida was caught on film licking a family's video doorbell. This makes the second incident like this in just over a month, after another doorbell licker was caught in California.