Invoca 3.0 Voice-Activated IR Remote
By Lawson Wong
Look Ma, No Hands!
Just when you thought the latest IR/RF remote controls sat as the ultimate arsenal of TV couch commandos worldwide, Invoca arms you with its Voice-Activated IR Remote for even more convenience and laziness. Using the sound of your voice, the remote operates completely hands-free, allowing you to multitask, like lying on the couch while drinking beer AND changing channels. You the MAN! The idea seems great, but does it perform well in the heat of battle?
What It Is
As expected, the unit operates like a standard 4-in-1 remote. While it does feel hefty and a bit cumbersome in the hand, it is meant to sit in its holding stand, using voice commands to control your devices. Rubberized buttons control a plethora of functions including: Source Select (TV, CBL/SAT, VCR/DVD, AUX), Power, Mute, Volume and Channel. A tray slides out to reveal numbers and advanced keys for programming. The IR transmitter lives on the top of the device and sends out signals both in the horizontal and vertical positions. The holding stand doubles as a charging cradle for the four rechargeable AA (Ni-Cd or Ni-MH) batteries that power the remote. Batteries are sold separately.
As its name indicates, the Voice-Activated IR Remote can be operated using just voice commands. The device comes default with four simple voice commands: Power, Channel Up, Channel Down and Previous. You can also program in your own voice commands to go to a specific channel using the call sign (ESPN or Bravo) or use macros to play a DVD (e.g. Set TV to channel 3, power on speakers, turn on DVD, press play).
The Remote includes codes to control virtually any audio/video box in your home theater rack. However, if you own some obscure piece of equipment, Invoca includes a Search Mode to find the correct code for your entertainment device.
Easy as pie, setting up voice control requires almost no effort, as the device will assist you every step of the way with voice prompts. To set a voice command to turn on the TV, simply press the TRAIN button on the slide out keypad and speak the command word (i.e. "TV Power"). Make sure that you place the device at the distance you plan to use the remote on a regular basis (about 12 to 36 inches from you). Invoca will then ask you to repeat the word, and if the device accepts the two voice commands as a match, it will prompt you to "push a button." Now you can press the buttons to accomplish your task: in this case, press the "TV" source select button followed by the POWER button. Exit program mode by pressing the TRAIN button again and you are done.
As with any voice recognition software, the recognition of voice commands may be a bit temperamental. You can make the process less frustrating by using the same tone when speaking commands, choosing distinct words such as "silent" instead of "mute" and making sure the area you are in when programming voice commands is relatively quiet.
The device can be programmed to recognize four separate voice profiles so that you and up to three other family members can all use the device.
How It Works
Now that you have your remote all set up, just press the WAKE UP button, and the LED will light up green and start to listen for voice commands. Defaulted at 4 hours, you can adjust the "listening" period from 10 minutes to being perpetually on. Now just make sure that the remote's IR transmitter is pointed at your A/V devices, speak your commands and the remote will do its duty.
Even the best voice recognition software is not perfect, and the Invoca is no different. You may have to repeat your voice commands until the remote picks it up. You can increase the sensitivity of the microphone to better receive the command, but keep in mind that it will also pick up other ambient noises such as a loud television or conversations in the room. I would strongly suggest using the Keyword feature that allows you to program a "magic word" (i.e. "Invoca") to set the remote into "listening mode" to make sure that the unit is listening for commands.
While setup and voice training went off without a hitch, I did experience some frustration using the voice-activated remote. The device worked with barely a hiccup while I was alone in a room with the television volume at a medium level, only requiring the occasional command repeat. However, when the television volume was set higher, the success rate of the Invoca hearing my command dropped by 50%. Moreover, the remote would pick up random words coming from the loud TV and activated unwanted commands. Setting and using the Keyword feature help the performance of the device immensely.
Who's It For
While the voice pickup of the Invoca may be hit or miss, the device does work in the right environment with all the tricks applied. Without ever having to raise a hand or lift your head up from the couch to control your boob tube, the Invoca 3.0 Voice-Activated Remote is a must-have for any couch potato.
Invoca 3.0 Voice-Activated IR Remote
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