Brian Owen with Nanoleaf team
Leslie Chen, Nanoleaf's PR & Communications Manager and Brian Owen, VoiceCon Canada 2018 where VoiceCAN at the Nanoleaf display in the Green Living Show

Alexa, Google Home takeover Toronto’s Spring convention shows


Published: April 17th, 2018

Not since my days with LEDs Magazine, as well as with green and LED solid-state lighting technology programs during the phase of market transformation, have I experienced the fast-paced advancements like I am seeing in voice technology, not to mention one industry conference and two public shows over the last three weeks. Seeing the changes and consumer adoption occur so swiftly is like traveling in the Tardis with Doctor Who.

Luckily, I had the travelling companionship of voice industry spokes bots, Homie & Lexy.

Welcome to the National Home Show in Toronto.

We commenced the journey at the National Home Show in the Enercare Centre at Toronto’s Exhibition Place on March 18, where two features of the show were captivating attendees. Front and centre, when entering the show, was the Best Buy Smart Home presented by Google Home, where attendees could discover how Best Buy smart home products and Google Home (a.k.a. Homie) can make life simpler and safer. Active functional displays included smart lighting, thermostats, appliances and security cameras. Attendees could learn how to seamlessly connect and control everything with their voice via Google Home.

The Ecobee smart thermostat in the GreenON portable home display.

Although the Best Buy Smart Home pavilion was partnered with Google, most devices can also be controlled by Amazon’s Alexa (a.k.a. Lexy). Onsite was Canadian technology companies Ecobee with their smart thermostats and Nanoleaf with decorative colour-changing LED lighting panels. Both companies come out of Toronto, Canada. Also present was Hunter Douglas with their voice controllable window blinds and shades.

More recently, I ventured to 2 events, back to back, the first being Springfest at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto on April 5. This is a trade event for building owners and property managers. More and more building automation systems are employing voice interaction but for the actual consumer hands-on experience, Shaw Direct Satellite TV explained their home system with a voice-activated remote for controlling your TV experience, including the selection of channels and programs. Imagine that; lose your remote in the house and you can just call out to find it.

Welcome to the Green Living Show

To conclude the ‘show business’, the girls (Homie & Lexy) and I attended the long running Green Living Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on April 8 where everything green could be found, even displays about a very controversial inducement now being legalized throughout Canada. While I enjoyed the many healthy food selections throughout the show, I kept myself and the girls away from the ‘brownies’.

Once again, I was able to spend more hands-on time with the Ecobee thermostat, now known as ‘Bea’ to the girls and the warm and cozy light of Nanoleaf, now affectionately known as ‘Nana’ to the girls. Ecobee was featured in the GreenON home. GreenON is an Ontario government program mandated with energy reduction. Originally, homeowners and tenants could receive the Ecobee for free through this program; however the newest round of funding provides a $100 rebate on any of the Ecobee models. Ecobee also has an advanced Alexa controlled thermostat that can actually play your music through its speaker. Recently, Alexa in Canada featured an article about Ecobee’s new smart light switch with Alexa inside. (https://alexaincanada.ca/ecobee-smart-light-switch-alexa/)

I spoke with Leslie Chen, Nanoleaf’s PR & Communications Manager at the Green Living Show, and she indicated that Nanoleaf has been well received in the market and consumers are delighted with not only the remote control, but now the voice control. Nanoleaf displayed the prototype of its new square panel, which I feel will be a designer’s de’light’ to incorporate as an aesthetic lighting component in interior design.

Also new last September was the Nanoleaf Rhythm. The Rhythm makes it possible to see sound, visually remastering your music into animated displays of color and light. The modular Nanoleaf Light Panels changed the way the world experiences light. The Rhythm adds another dimension to the Nanoleaf journey: bringing your playlist to life before your eyes. Colour displays are created by your own soundtrack and the Rhythm takes you on a sensory adventure that’s personalized just for you. The Rhythm is a small sound module that plugs into any Light Panel. Its built-in audio sensor automatically picks up on beats, sounds, and melodies, translating the sounds into light shows.

Transforming Sound into Displays of Light with the new Nanoleaf Rhythm

“Adding the Rhythm music visualizer was the natural next step for Nanoleaf”, states Gimmy Chu, CEO and Co-Founder of Nanoleaf. “We’ve received an overwhelming response from our customers to have a music visualizer for the Nanoleaf Light Panels. Visuals play an incredible part in how we experience everyday life, but our senses extend so much further than that. Sound, along with sight, is one of the most interactive senses we have. With the Rhythm, these two can now come together, creating a fully immersive experience sensory experience and pushing the limits of self-expression.”

Nanoleaf is available at Best Buy Canada.

Much faster than with solid-state LED lighting, especially with an entry price for the consumer that is affordable and reasonable, voice connected technology hub devices such as Amazon Echo, available in Canada since November of 2017, are becoming an IoT staple in the connected SmartHome.

Say goodbye to the nice readers, Homie & Lexy. Alexa, turn off the lights!