How to Make Your Workshop Smarter

I also use an Amazon Echo in the garage. I know this doesn’t sound like unplugging, but just giving voice commands doesn’t seem “techy” to me. Here are a few ways I use my smart speaker in the garage.

amazon echo in workshopFamily Handyman

As the owner of a tech design and development company, I like to “unplug” at the end of the day and tinker with my 1925 Model T or my BMW race car. I do have a computer in the garage to search for parts or watch instructional videos on YouTube. I also use an Amazon Echo in the garage. I know this doesn’t sound like unplugging, but just giving voice commands doesn’t seem “techy” to me. Here are a few ways I use my smart speaker in the garage:

INTERCOM: Yeah, it’s easy to pick up the phone or walk to the house to talk to my wife, but a smart speaker makes it even easier, provided you have a speaker in the house as well. I just say, “Drop in on (insert name)” and I’m instantly talking to my wife in the house. She can do the same to reach me in the shop.

Intercoms have come a long way since this old thing.

SHOPPING LISTS: We’ve all thought of something but forgotten it before getting around to writing it down. With my smart speaker, I can create or add to shopping, task or idea lists as things occur to me without stopping what I’m working on.

MUSIC: I love putting my favorite music on playlists that I can access without touching anything. Or, if I’m doing quiet work, my smart speaker can instantly cue up an audiobook or a podcast.

CLIMATE CONTROL: Because I have a Wi-Fi thermostat in the garage, I can tell Alexa to turn on the heat or A/C half an hour before I head out to start working.

Should you get a Wi-Fi thermostat? This will help you decide.

DINNER ON DEMAND: If I’m really buried in my work and don’t have time to make a meal, I’ll just tell Alexa to order me a pizza!

I’ve discovered that the various technologies don’t play well together, at least not yet. I thought it would be great if Alexa could play YouTube videos on my computer on command. But Google reserves that privilege for its Google Home speakers. And Google Home can’t order items from Amazon. Google doesn’t want to help Amazon sell things, and Amazon doesn’t want to help Google get more YouTube viewers.

I’m sure someday we’ll be able to use smart speakers across any platform, for any task imaginable. For now, I’ll settle for help with these simple tasks that can be impossible when I’m up to my elbows in differential fluid. Next, check out 20 amazing Alexa hacks all homeowners should know.

Buy an Amazon Echo now.

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