Josh: New App, Feature & Partners At CEDIA 2018By - 09/21/2018
I’ve covered Josh.ai a couple of times. First, when they launched Josh in 2016 and again in 2017 when they announced Josh Micro. Now I feel it’s my responsibility to cover them again, this time, with updates about their CEDIA 2018 announcements. But first, let’s go on a trip down memory lane and see what we’ve covered about Josh.ai so far.
What’s Josh Again?
Josh is an AI voice assistant just like Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Siri. The difference is that Josh is only available through a network of professional, smart home integrators. On the other hand, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Siri are all DIY solutions that you can order online and install yourself.
Josh Classic & Josh Mini
Josh is Josh.ai’s primary product, but they also offer the hardware through which you can talk to the AI voice assistant. Initially, they offered Josh Classic, which comes with a Home Base (a customized Mac Mini) paired with a customized iPad as a controller. Back then, the only way to talk to Josh hands-free was through the customized iPad, which required that you keep the iPad plugged in. Otherwise, you could only talk to Josh via the Josh App, which wasn’t hands-free.
Eventually, they switched to Josh Mini, which is a small, smart speaker that looks kind of like Echo Dot. Unlike Josh Classic, Josh Mini is a true hands-free smart speaker. You can activate it using the wake phrase “OK, Josh.”
What Makes Josh Special?
Josh, like Alexa and Google Assistant, was designed to control smart homes. However, Josh.ai is banking on marketing it as a “luxury voice AI” for luxury smart homes. As such, it’s expected to have richer features than other smart home voice assistants.
One of Josh’s special features is Natural Language Processing or the ability to understand natural language based on context. For instance, the Josh Micros are designed to understand its location within your home. So when you say “turn on the lights” to the Josh Micro in your bedroom, it will turn on the lights in your bedroom even if you didn’t specify which light.
As a part of its Natural Language Processing feature, Josh can also understand strings of commands. Rather than waiting for Josh to respond to your first command before giving your next, you can speak all of your commands at once. Josh will keep up.
What Works With Josh
In my previous coverage about Josh.ai, I created a table where I listed all devices that work with Josh. The list has grown incredibly since then. However, this time, there won’t be another list. Why? Because Josh is only available through smart home integrators, and that’s the beauty of working with them (the good ones, of course). If you tell your smart home integrator you want to build your smart home around Josh; they’ll help you pick out smart home products that work with Josh. Heck, they’ll even install, set them up, and integrate them for you.
I will, however, mention that Josh works with smart home systems from Lutron, Creston, Control4, and Savant for the sake of those who already have a smart home system from these brands. If that’s you and you’re interested in adding Josh to your smart home, get in touch with your smart home integrator to see your options.
CEDIA 2018 Announcements
Now that we’re up to speed let’s talk about what’s new. Josh.ai made three major announcements at CEDIA 2018: a new app, a new ability, and new partners.
Josh App 3.0
The Josh smartphone app has always been vital to Josh’s abilities. The newest version of the app adds even more smart features.
The highlight of Josh App 3.0 is its AI engine. Besides being able to respond to voice commands, the app’s AI engine also learns and eventually offers suggestions based on your living patterns. For example, if you ask Josh to turn on your porch light every night at 6 P.M. for several consecutive days, the app will be able to pick up the pattern. Next time, you’ll see a shortcut on the app’s dashboard suggesting you turn on the lights.
In line with being a “luxury voice AI,” Josh.ai announced a new feature: the ability to route music and video through custom AV distributed matrix switches. This means besides controlling lights, thermostats, and other smart appliances, you can now ask Josh to play your favorite TV series on your bedroom TV… all with your voice.
And finally, Josh.ai announced new partners, including Savant and Creston Pyng, Sony, Sonos, Onkyo, and more. For a full list of compatible systems and to learn more about Josh, visit Josh.ai’s website.
Update: International Builders Show 2019
Several months after Josh’s appearance at CEDIA, Josh.ai attended IBS 2019 in Las Vegas. IBS is a trade show for professional builders and installers, so it’s a fitting place to announce Josh’s latest partner: Home Connect.
Home Connect is a system that ties together smart appliances from different brands, including Bosch and Thermador. Home Connect is already a handy system and adding Josh to the mix makes the system even more convenient to use. At IBS, Josh.ai showcased the ability to control a Home Connect-integrated coffee maker. You can say commands like “Hey Josh, brew me a coffee,” or “Hey Josh, make me a strong large Espresso Macchiato.” You can even string your Home Connect commands together with commands for other smart home products. For example, you can say “Hey Josh, brew my coffee, turn on the TV, and open the blinds.”
Photo Credit: Josh