Logitech's Harmony smart home hub adds voice controls through Ubi and Ivee

Logitech is continuing its quest to control your entire smart home by linking up with a couple of voice-activated computers.

If you own one of Logitech's Home Hubs, you can now control all your connected home devices by voice with either a wall-mounted Ubi computer or an Ivee smart alarm clock. Both devices connect to Logitech's Hub through Wi-Fi, delivering commands that would otherwise require Logitech's Harmony remote control or mobile app.

Ubi and Ivee can already control a fair number of smart home products on their own, but Logitech's big pitch its ability to string multiple commands into "Harmony Activities." For example, you could tell Ubi to "watch a movie" and have the TV and sound system turn on, while dimming your Philips Hue connected lightbulbs. Or, you could tell Ivee to make sure your smart lock is engaged and all the lights are off as you get into bed.

The new voice controls stem from the Harmony API that Logitech opened up to developers a couple months ago. Essentially, this allows products like Ubi and Ivee to target things like door locks and light bulbs on a more general level, without having to program for every single brand on the market. Logitech says the API gives its partners control over more than 270,000 devices.

None of this actually solves the problem of connecting Logitech's hub with various competing smart home platforms and standards. If you've gone all-in on products from SmartThings, or products that use ZigBee or Z-Wave protocols, you may need additional hubs to reach a state of fully-connected, voice-controlled nirvana.

Why this matters: Voice controls are likely to take on an larger role in smart homes over the next few years, and products like Ubi and Ivee are trying to get a head start (with decidedly mixed results). There's definitely an early adopter vibe to all of this stuff, and we've love to someday see a single voice computer that replaces all of the hardware hubs and setup hoops that Logitech can require. Still, if you've been been cobbling together a smart home with Logitech at the center, the addition of a voice assistant could be hard to resist.


Jared Newman

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