Josh Micro is a High-End Voice AssistantBy - 09/21/2017
Voice control is undeniably one of the hottest, most talked about trends in the tech industry. With Amazon expanding their Echo lineup, Google continuously improving Google Home, and Apple working on releasing the HomePod, there’s plenty of options for those who want to add such technology to their smart homes. Most of the existing solutions, however, are designed for folks who prefer a DIY approach. If you prefer a voice controlled system custom tailored to your smart home, then Josh Micro is for you.
What Is Josh.ai?
To understand Josh Micro, let’s start from the beginning. Josh Micro is a product of Josh.ai, a startup committed to building voice control technology for the custom integration channel. This means that you can only purchase their products from professional installers.
Their first product, Josh Classic, is built around a customized Mac Mini called the Home Base. The Home Base is pre-loaded with voice control and home control software. It accepts voice commands and can control your smart home devices.
Josh Classic has its pros and cons. One pro is that it isn’t restricted to one room. Although processing is done through the Home Base, there are several different ways you can communicate with the system. You can use the companion smartphone app, the included iPad, or even Amazon Echo or Google Home. Another pro is that the system uses NLP (natural-language processing). Josh Classic’s biggest blunder is its price. It pre-sold for $10,000 and is currently priced somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000.
If you want to learn more about Josh Classic, check out this article. However, today’s focus is not on Josh Classic, but on Josh Micro.
What Is Josh Micro?
Josh Micro is a system that uses the same software as Josh Classic to provide a voice control solution. It also controls the same smart home products, it has a smartphone app, and it offers voice control through Josh AI. What’s different is Micro’s form factor. Josh Micro is a half-dome shaped smart speaker that will fit in the palm of your hand.
This single speaker replaces both the Mac Mini and iPad, which are required to enjoy Josh Classic. The speaker listens for voice commands, processes commands and tries to understand them. It also communicates with and controls connected devices. Of course, the speaker is also a speaker. To be exact, it’s a speaker with far-field technology, which allows it to listen for voice commands both near and far.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on the smart home market, you would probably agree that so far Josh isn’t offering anything new. However, I’d argue that there’s one feature that makes it stand out from the rest: local processing. To be fair, local processing also isn’t new, but it’s not something you see often. For processing commands, Josh Micro relies solely on its own processors. Although some of the devices it controls, like Nest for example, require internet, Josh itself is not reliant. It can process voice commands with or without Wi-Fi. However, should Micro’s local processors fail, the cloud will take over. If this happens, Micro will use your internet until local processing is restored.
In addition to cloud backup, Josh Micro offers local processing redundancy, assuming you have more than one speaker. Each speaker is equipped with the same set of processors so if the main speaker fails (damaged or disconnected), the other speakers will take over.
- Dimensions: 1.7″ (height) x 3.9″ (diameter)
- Weight: 300 grams (0.66 lbs)
- Colors: Black or White
- Power Supply: 5V DC (also supports PoE)
- Inclusions: Josh Micro, power adapter, long power cable (5 ft), short power cable (6 in), USB-C to PoE adapter (8 in)
- Installation: Table or Wall Mount
Other Hardware Features
There’s more to Micro than far-field microphones and the ability to process information locally. For one, the speaker doubles as a multi-sensor. It has a proximity sensor that detects whenever you’re close. Using it, you can program Micro to listen for voice commands as you approach the device. Josh can also use its proximity sensor to detect where you are within your home. If you ask Josh to turn on the lights without saying which light, it will use your location to turn on the light closest to you. It also includes an ambient light sensor that triggers a night light feature. It even has a temperature and humidity sensor so you can monitor your surrounding environment.
What Can Josh Do?
Of course, the star component is Josh. Josh is what Alexa is to Amazon Echo. It’s the AI, the device’s persona. If you’re not fond of the name Josh, you can rename it whatever your heart desires. You can even name it J.A.R.V.I.S. if you so choose. In fact, you get to choose not only the name but the voice. You can choose from a variety of male and female voices. So what can Josh…err, J.A.R.V.I.S. or whatever you want to call him… or her… or it do?
Listens All The Time… Or Not
Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the upcoming Apple HomePod are always on and always listening, so is Josh. If this freaks you out, don’t fret. They are always listening for their respective wake words. They are not recording your private conversations.
Now, if you don’t like the fact that Josh listens 24/7, you are welcome to turn off the always on feature or use proximity or touch to wake it up. You can also use the free Josh smartphone app for iOS devices. Android user? That app is coming soon.
Control Individual Devices or Control Entire Scenes
|Works With Josh||In Process||Coming Soon|
|Thermostats||Ecobee3, Nest Thermostats, Lutron Programmable Thermostat, Ecobee EMS/Smart Si, Creston Thermostat||Honeywell Lyric Round|
|Smart Lights||Lutron Radiora2, Lutron Homeworks QS, Creston Smart Lights, Lutron Caseta, Philips Hue, Control4||LIFX||Vantage, Insteon|
|Cameras||Any IP/Network Camera, Nest Cam, Dropcam||Security Cameras (with NVR/DVR)|
|Sound Systems||Sonos||Autonomic, Meridian||Bang & Olufsen, Denon Heos|
|Music Channels||Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Tidal|
|Smart TVs||Sony, Samsung, LG|
|Smart Switches||Belkin WeMo. Lutron||SmartThings|
|Smart Shading Systems||Lutron||Somfy, QMotion|
|Microphones||Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Google Home|
|TV Boxes||Apple TV, Roku||TiVo|
|Matrix Systems||Global Cache||PureLink||Creston DM|
|Fans||Creston Fan Controllers, Big Ass Fan, Lutron Fan Controllers|
|Garage Door Controllers||Lutron||Chamberlain MyQ||Garageio|
|Door Security||Lockitron, Yale, Schlage||Lockstate, Kwikset, Ring Video Doorbell|
|Sprinkler Systems||Rachio, Lutron, Control4, Creston||Jandy iAquaLink|
Using voice commands, you can ask Josh to control multiple smart home devices. In fact, the number of devices compatible to Josh rivals that of Google Home or even Alexa. Josh can talk to thermostats, lights, cameras, sound systems, smart TVs, security and safety sensors, smart switches, smart shades, TV boxes, matrix switches, fans, garage door controllers, security products, and sprinkler systems.
One thing Josh can do that other AIs can’t is understand multi-step commands. For example, you can say, “Josh, dim the dining room lights and change the color to yellow, play my Romantic playlist from Spotify, and raise the temperature to 72 degrees.” However, if you prefer something short and sweet, Josh can recreate scenes. Instead of naming commands one by one, you can simply say, “Josh, activate Romantic Dinner Night.” You can set scenes up on your own or ask your home-tech installer to do it for you.
Natural Language Processing
Finally, Josh is capable of understanding natural language. You don’t have to memorize set phrases, simply say the command as you would say it to a friend. Josh can even understand a variety, although not all, accents.
This ability to understand natural language extends to contextual conversations. For example, when you ask Josh to turn on the light and then ask him to turn it off a little while later, you can simply say, “Josh, turn it off.”
Josh Classic vs Josh Micro
|Josh Classic||Josh Micro|
|Hardware Included||Customized Mac Mini and iPad||Josh Micro Smart Speaker|
|Voice Control Input||Customized iPad, Josh iPhone/iPad App||Josh Micro Smart Speaker, Customized iPad, Josh iPhone/iPad App|
|Control From Any Room||Yes, via the app.||Yes, via the smart speaker or the app.|
|Control From Anywhere||Yes, via the app.||Yes, via the app.|
|Voice Control Processing Redundancy||Voice processing is done locally but with cloud backup.||Voice processing is done locally. If the main speaker fails, the others will take over. If all of them fails, the cloud will take over.|
|Other||N/A||Night Light, Multi-Sensor, Touch Interface|
Pricing & Availability
Josh Micro is now available via certified home-technology installers. Unfortunately, you’ll also need an installer to give you a price. That said, we do know that it’s cheaper than Josh Classic, but it’s probably still on the expensive side of smart speakers.
For more information or to find a home-tech installer, visit josh.ai.