More and more, smart speakers are acting as a smart home hub that controls all your devices. But true smart home hubs often have a significant advantage over smart speakers—local control. By skipping the cloud, smart hubs react more quickly and continue to work when the internet is down. But now, Google’s new Local Home SDK might wipe away that advantage.
Usually, when you ask a smart speaker to turn on your smart bulb or plug, it’s a roundabout process to make the command go. The speaker recognizes your voice, records it, then sends it off to the cloud. There, Google (or Amazon, etc.) parses the command to determine what you wanted.
If the smart bulb you use has its own cloud, Google communicates with that an sends the results back to your smart speaker. Otherwise, it sends the command to your speaker. Armed with the new information, the speaker reaches out to your bulb or plug to complete the command.
When the internet fails, none of that can work. And right now, as more services experience failures (even large companies like Google’s Nest service), that’s a likely possibility.
Advanced smart home hubs (like Hubitat or HomeSeer), on the other hand, skip that entire process. When you tap the “turn smart bulb on” button in your app, that goes to the hub, which sends the command straight to the bulb. By skipping the cloud, your command goes through more quickly, and it works even when the internet is down (so long as your local hub is working).
Google’s new Local Home SDK will let your Google Home speakers work more like an advanced hub. There’s nothing to do on your end; it’s up to smart home manufacturers to integrate the feature. But if they do, your Google Home can skip the cloud entirely, which will speed up the process.
Rather than sending the command off to Google then off to your smart bulb’s cloud system, the Google Home speaker can rely on its local SDK knowledge to reach out directly to your bulb and turn it on or off. No cloud needed. The SDK allows the manufacturer to rely on any of Google Home’s radios, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
If your local Wi-Fi is working, or the device is in Bluetooth range, your smart home command will work even when the rest of the internet is down. And thanks to skipping all the cloud steps, your smart home devices should react more quickly to your voice commands.
Some manufacturers have already pledged to implement the SDK, and we should see more in time. In the future, you may not need a complicated smart home hub to have a fast and locally controlled smart home anymore.