Honeywell's New Voice-Activated Thermostat Brings Comfort to the Lazy

It never fails. The moment you finally get comfortable under your covers is the moment you realize that you haven't turned down the thermostat. Rather than choose between a toe-stubbing trek through darkened halls or sweating through the night, check out Honeywell's new voice-activated thermostat. You stay snuggled safely in bed and save energy—win, meet win.

The Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control builds on the the company's Smart Thermostat line that debuted in April of this year. Like its predecessors, the new unit features a color-customizable touchscreen display that allows the unit to blend in with the room's paint scheme; an intuitive, interview-style 7-day scheduling function; Wi-Fi connectivity and a mobile app for both iOS and Android.

But unlike any other thermostat on the market, Honeywell's employs powerful cloud-based voice recognition technology. Simply say "hello, thermostat" to engage the unit, then tell it how you feel—"make it cooler" lowers the temperature by one degree, "make it much cooler" drops the mercury by four degrees. You can also dictate a specific temperature or temperature change. Additionally, the thermostat utilizes far-field speech recognition to ignore ambient background noise and pick out your voice from across a noisy room. Plus it will only respond once you utter "hello, thermostat," regardless of accent, so it won't turn on the A/C whenever you play Nelly's "Hot in Herre".

I had the opportunity to try out the new thermostat recently and was quite impressed by the unit's responsiveness. It consistently recognized my commands from anywhere in the conference room, above the din of rush hour in the Financial District, even when I used non-standard instructions like "it's getting hot in her(r)e" and "I'm a bit cold." If only Siri and Google Voice worked this well at arm's length.

The Smart Thermostat with Voice Control hits store shelves this November—initially at Lowe's, Home Depot, Amazon, and Best Buy—and will retail for $350.