Is A Mesh Network Which Is Always Listening A Good Thing Or Bad?

We wrote previously on how a mesh network uses several routers to improve the overall WiFi coverage you’ll be able to get in your home, eliminating blind spots and making it possible to use a complete range of connected devices anywhere about the house no matter how bad reception had been in the past.

BT, along with their superfast fibre broadband, are offering additional routers they simply refer to as ‘discs’. Other ISPs let you add further routers and repeaters to your system, but don’t currently offer the extra hardware themselves.

But before you go out and buy a raft of routers to add to your home network to improve your WiFi coverage, take a look at what Amazon are doing with Alexa.

Voice Control As Uniform As WiFi Coverage Itself

Now, Google have been receiving bad press for installing mics in their hardware and not making consumers aware of them. Despite the mics being controllable on the app, because they weren’t listed on the product description which appeared on the packaging, Google were seen as having tried to do something underhanded. The reality is of course that many IoT devices come with additional capabilities which aren’t listed. This allows for service expansion without replacement and, technically, any device which has a speaker can be adapted to use it as a microphone since it does exactly the same job, but in reverse.

So what Alexa is proposing to do is place mics not only in Smart Speakers and Home Hubs but in repeaters and mesh network routers too. “But that means they can be listening everywhere, all the time!” I hear you cry as you clutch your pearls. But isn’t that the entire point of an Intelligent home? That no matter where you are you just have to say “Alexa…” and it carries out your every whim?

Security Should Be The Starting Point Of Any System

The fact that we acknowledge Alexa and Google Assistant’s constant coverage is evidence by the way we take data security so seriously.  We make sure that we protect our network from hackers and piggybackers who could do anything from stealing our bandwidth to taking control of our devices or disabling our home security. We know it’s always there, that’s kind of the point. And we take all reasonable steps to ensure it’s safe.

By taking over the mesh start-up company Eero and a new partnership with Qualcomm, a company which develops semiconductors, Amazon are making it clear that they are interested in not only being at the ends of the internet, they want to be a part of that very network too.

A Mic In Every Device

There are several practical reasons why it’s handy to have a mic in the router as well as in various other devices. You may not want, or have the budget for a Smart Speaker in every room, but you want to be able to control the room by voice command. Or you may not have the space to have a router and a Smart Speaker on various shelves and tables throughout the house. And an extra Smart Speaker might well be superfluous, especially if you have hi fi, Smart TV or other IoT devices in a room but speed is an issue if you’re running several connected devices at the same time and your WiFi coverage isn’t particularly good.

Mesh networks have been around for several years but are only now becoming a practical way for the average homeowner to improve the coverage they receive throughout the building. Until the Smart Home Revolution it wasn’t particularly necessary to have full coverage in every corner of every room. When the average house had only three connected devices you’d sit somewhere else to stream a movie or download music. Now that each house has about ten devices hungry for data, the idea of the family all clustering around the wifi router, vying for strong signal or a free space on the ethernet ports is ridiculous. It’s speed and reliability throughout the home that we’re after. And if that means Echo Dots or other devices which not only listen, but also provide clearer, more efficient service, then that must be a good thing.

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