Universal Electronics to introduce voice-enabled smart home hub at CES

Universal Electronics to introduce voice-enabled smart home hub at CES
Universal Electronics and Microsoft have teamed up to create a voice-enabled smart home hub that is interoperable across various smart home ecosystems. The solution, named Nevo Butler, is designed for consumer brands or service providers and will be showcased at CES 2019.
Nevo Butler is a smart home hub with built-in voice assistant. It essentially functions like a smart speaker, with the capability to control all types of third-party devices. Universal Electronics, which specializes in universal control and sensing technologies, claims the solution offers a comprehensive range of device control “for entertainment and smart home devices” running on IP, Zigbee, Bluetooth and Infrared protocols.

In addition, the voice assistant will respond through either cloud or edge processing. When the Internet is down, the edge capability can provide secure and low-latency responses to most commonly used commands.
Nevo is billed as a solution “to unify entertainment control and home automation experiences.” The smart platform is powered by the Microsoft Azure cloud, leveraging Azure Bot Service and Azure Cognitive Services.
Nevo Butler is integrated with white-label digital assistant Nevo.ai, which electronics makers or service providers may utilize to create their own voice assistant. Clients will be able to customize the voice assistant’s wakeup words and the product’s logo and color options to match the brand experience.
“This solution puts brands back at the forefront of the consumer experience, enabling consumers to interact with products and services without going through a single, global service,” Universal Electronics says.

Enterprise integration services

Because Nevo Butler is meant to control and work with a variety of devices and services, compatibility is its another signature feature, to enable “interoperability across fragmented ecosystems,” Universal Electronics says.
In fact, the cloud that Nevo uses is already powering connected devices of Comcast, Sony, LGI, Samsung, among others. The cloud also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to enable more smart functionalities The compatibility with third-party voice assistants essentially expands Nevo’s capabilities.
In addition, the Nevo Butler platform can integrate with service providers’ existing subscriber management systems, while partner services “allow new avenues for monetization and managed complementary services,” Universal Electronics says.

Multiple use cases

Nevo Butler’s cloud currently has home security, energy management, entertainment control and hotel use cases. For entertainment control, users can say to Nevo commands like “What’s on ESPN?” and “Show me Angelina Jolie movies;” for home automation, Nevo can turn off multiple home appliances with a single command like “good night;” to provide home security, Nevo can connect to window and door sensors or smart locks; for energy control, Nevo can connect to smart thermostat and turn down the temperature when no one is home; for hotel use cases, Nevo can interact with guests to provide in-room services, provide automated responses to common requests, and enable TV and A/C control voice control.
“Today and in the future, we assume every home product experience will become frictionless, controlled naturally through conversation and voice, in a personalized and trusted experience,” said Lili Cheng, CVP of Conversational AI at Microsoft. “By partnering with UEI on Nevo Butler and Quickset Cloud, we will enable UEI customers to create custom Virtual Assistant solutions, for millions of home products, powered by Microsoft’s AI and Azure IoT services.”

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