Logitech Harmony, Google Assistant give your voice more power

If you ask Google, it would probably prefer that its Google Home speaker be the hub for your smart home. The reality, however, is that there are half a dozen or so different smart home "languages", some of which Google Home doesn't speak. It needs a multi-lingual interpreter to put them all under the mesmerizing control of your voice. And that is exactly what this integration with Logitech Harmony promises to bring.

The idea of the smart home of the future is nice and all, but the dream falls apart when every other appliance or device uses a different protocol or has its own app. Micromanaging is always inefficient, which is why there have been attempts to corral some of these devices to use a common protocol.

Sometimes, however, that isn't easily, or even technically, possible, which is why platforms like Logitech's Harmony exists. Harmony offers a single place and a single method to control all these devices. Even better, it allows users to string together different actions around a certain theme or situation, like "movie night" or "waking up". The one thing Harmony hasn't been able to do, so far, is allow you to do all of that without even pressing a button.

That is where Google Home and Google Assistant come in. By tying the Google smart speaker and a Harmony hub together, you can just speak your Harmony commands. No tapping or pressing required. Just say "OK, Google, ask Harmony to turn on my Good Morning activity" and watch your Philips Hue lights adjust to the day and the Nest Thermostat heat (or cool) things up.

It's a give and take relationship, with Harmony gaining the ability to obey voice commands and Google Home gaining the power to control dozens of smart devices and services. Neither can do it without the other, which also means you need to have both devices in your home for this orchestra to play its harmony. A Google Home costs $129 and the cheapest Logitech Harmony, the Hub, will set you back an additional $99. A Harmony Companion, however, nearly doubles that to $149.99 and a full Harmony Elite will go for $349.99. It should be noted that the harmony between the two only works in the US, for now.