IFA 2018: Voice control spreads through the home with smarter speakers, vacuums, ovens and more

A hostess presents a fridge at the booth of Samsung during a preview day of the IFA, the world's leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, in Berlin on August 30, 2018

Movies have long depicted our future filled with homes serviced by robots, animated by interactive gadgets and operated by voice commands or gestures. Well that future isn't far off: at Berlin tech trade fair IFA (which runs through September 5) brands have confirmed that the age of smart homes is on our doorstep with a range of products integrating voice control with Google Assistant or Alexa.

Smart speakers were the most prominent examples at IFA 2018, with brands such as Huawei, Harman Kardon, Marshall, B&O and more all trying to get a slice of the Google Home and Amazon Echo pie.

While small smart accessories such as light bulbs, plugs or thermostats that can be controlled via app or voice command have been available for a few years they will undoubtedly become more popular with the rise in smart speaker sales.

And now it's time to also give larger home appliances the voice control treatment.

“Hands-free cooking” is on the horizon at Electrolux, which plans to launch Google voice integration smart ovens in 2019. Such technology could prove handy when you've left the house wondering if you turned off the oven, or when you're busy setting up for a dinner party and want to lower the temperature.

It may also be handy, when you're hosting a dinner party, to have the Anker Eufy RoboVac 30C robot vacuum cleaner on hand; the device includes Alexa, as well as Google Assistant support, so you can focus on folding napkins and lighting candles -- until a robot can do those tasks too. Meanwhile if you're an Apple HomeKit user you could ask Siri to close your ‘Serena smart shades' for a cozier ambience.

Ding-dong, there's the doorbell. "Ok Google, show me who is at the front door," and on turns the smart TV that is linked to a smart home security camera system, such as the one from Swann.  

These are a few examples of many specialized brands incorporating support for voice control, while tech giants such as Samsung and LG are already working on a smart infrastructure that would seamlessly link home appliances. Furthermore, by creating individual setting profiles for family or office members, upon arrival the thermostat, tv and lighting could be turned on to their preference.

Although this may all look like toys for those with the means and no time, LG emphasized another aspect to such integration during its IFA keynote -- safety. Home owners can adjust settings from anywhere in the world using apps, therefore making it look like someone is home and possibly scaring off burglars.