French smart home device maker ProKNX has launched a new smart speaker, built with a multilingual voice assistant that operates without sending any data to the cloud. The offline smart speaker is part of the company’s Aragon line, using the same Snips (now Sonos-owned) platform for the voice assistant.
ProKNX designed the new smart speaker as a table-top alternative to the Aragon smart home automation systems it already offers but requires installation into the home itself. The more portable version of the system referred to on ProKNX’s website as just ‘Aragon WL’ has much of the same functionality but without the hassle of embedding it in a wall. The new smart speaker uses the local wifi to connect to other smart home devices but handles the control without sending or receiving data to distant servers like Alexa or Google Assistant. Aragon, named for the Spanish province, can understand commands in French, German, and English. The AI leverages the Natural Language Understanding engine built by Snips to grasp a myriad of variations on the same command. All of the information is stored within the device, and there’s even room to train it to learn new words so users can customize what the voice assistant does when hearing different commands and teach it whatever wake word they’d like.
“We saw an urgent need to develop a solution to support a user’s right to enjoy the comfort of smart home technology without the negative aspects of owning a home automation device, such as obligatory data recording, and the need for connection to the cloud,” ProKNX CEO Christian Kiefel said in a statement. “A smart speaker that runs your home must function faultlessly, even in areas of poor connectivity.”
ProKNX sells Aragon as the answer for those who want smart home automation but are concerned about privacy. Keeping the entire system out of the cloud means there’s no way for a customer’s data to be deliberately or accidentally shared without their permission. Aragon has a similar pitch to the Josh.ai smart home ecosystem. Josh aims for the higher end of the smart home market. The company even came out with a branded server that can be installed in the home for even more advanced smart home setups. Josh.ai also has its own VoiceCast protocol, with allowances for other brands, while ProKNX is sticking to working with Sonos and its operating system.
CTO Jens Kastensson stated, “The general population is becoming more aware of their right to privacy, yet want to enjoy the benefits of an intelligent home. We see that the interest in voice-controlled smart speakers is increasing exponentially. This is the perfect moment for innovative automation companies to accelerate their entry into this important market by leveraging a manufacturing partnership with ProKNX. We have the technology of the future for the buildings of today.”