July 24, 2024


Think spectacular technology

Wave at Bixi then whisper to Alexa at CES 2017


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

We’re enamored with the possibilities of the voice-controlled smart home. The first version of Bixi went a different direction. The Bluetooth-enabled, puck-shaped device sensed motion to allow you control over your home with gestures.

The second-generation Bixi, due out by the end of the year, keeps the same idea intact. Lift your hand over it to raise the volume of your speakers, or wave your hand across it to flip the page on your iPad. Bixi 2 will also accommodate those of us that love to use our voice with an Alexa integration.

Both Bixis respond to seven different gestures. They talk to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth, and Bixi 2 will connect directly to Wi-Fi. You can program Bixi to control any Bluetooth device, and via Wi-Fi hopefully Bixi will be able to talk to a lot more smart home devices — though a Bixi rep wouldn’t offer specifics.

I saw both Bixis on display at CES 2017. The first was released in France last year and will be coming to the US in March. The motion-sensing tech looks cool, especially if you’re in the kitchen and handling food. The small, portable Bixi is easy to take with you and its rechargeable battery lasts a month.

You’ll need to be within 6 to 8 inches to get a response from Bixi. That limitation was intentional to help prevent accidental usage from your ordinary gestures. Still, the short range makes me wonder how useful it would be rather than just pulling out your phone. Alexa will help, though Amazon’s assistant won’t be always listening via Bixi as she is in the Amazon Echo. You’ll have to wake Bixi up with a wave, then you’ll be able to command Alexa normally.

If you’d like options for controlling your smart home, the motion-sensing, Alexa-enabled Bixi 2 will be out by the end of the year. A Bixi rep wouldn’t confirm a price, though the first Bixi will cost $100 when it comes out in the US in March. If Bixi 2 is much more than that, I’ll have a tough time seeing its value over the original $180 Amazon Echo.

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