Product: Ivee Digit
Rating: Weak Recommend*
"Hello ivee..." has been a new common phrase in our apartment the last few weeks, with the introduction of the Ivee Digit alarm clock, a voice-activated "beside assistant" designed to bring a little of that Siri-ish magic to your bedtime and morning routine. Whether this device is a help or hindrance depends upon your lifestyle and perhaps your age...
Years ago, my family was the proud owner of the only talking digital clock on our block. I remember it well: the Timex Speak Easy with red LED display, a curved one piece design with futuristic robotic voice feature activated with the touch of a button. The clock made me the coolest kid amongst friends for about a week before the novelty wore off ("Can I come over and try out the robot clock?"), but I always loved that clock until it finally stopped working years later.
The ivee Digit is a relative of my beloved 1980's talking clock, updated with today's voice recognition technology (and a LCD display). Similar to iPhone's Siri voice assistant, the ivee Digit can understand a set list of 35 different voice commands, and provides users information verbally without the need to lift a finger; time, date, temperature, alarm(s), when to snooze, and even activating peaceful sounds to ease you into sheep counting mode can be requested after greeting the clock with, "Hello ivee".
The Digit's voice recognition works well; it occasionally faltered if my voice dipped into the deeper range (like in the morning before I had that first cup of coffee and my voice lingers in the neanderthal range), but it proved excellent with filtering ambient noise like nearby traffic or even the birds chirping near our window.
The technology behind ivee's ability to ascertain what you're asking for works through an analog to digital sound signal conversion, which is instantaneously processed after searching and matching the 42 or so phonemes which make up the English language. Since the system's vocabulary is set to just 35 commands, ivee's success rate is predictably high...which is good for those early mornings when you're groggily ask ivee about the date or temperature.
One feature which we think is missing from the current system is the ability to string commands/inquiries together (e.g. "Hello ivee. Today's date? Temperature...") without having to say "hello ivee" each time. There's something a little awkward about addressing your clock when you could simply glance at your nearby tablet or smartphone. But not everyone has these devices, and it's not difficult to imagine specific types of users benefitting form ivee's voice recognition hardware; the elderly, children, the blind, or anyone who doesn't have a smartphone to use by the bedside.
At $49.99 the ivee Digit is a lot more expensive than the average digital display alarm clock, and from both a technological and informational standpoint feels redundant for a smartphone user. I personally don't like to speak to anyone, let alone my clock, early in the morning, so the voice activation's appeal is lost on me. But something tells me when I give this to my friend's 4 year old daughter, she's going to feel the same awe and pride I once did when I was gifted that talking Timex digital clock.
ivee also offers the more expensive $69.99 Flex, with larger screen, larger voice command vocabulary, 6 alarms, and double the relaxing sounds offerings.
Pros: Easy setup, 35 voice commands/recognition make it easy to use (then snooze), Apple-ish industrial design, 3 built-in relaxing sleep sounds, dual alarms
Cons: Saying "Hello Ivee" for each query gets tiring, speaker volume range has only three settings, redundant in the age of Siri and smartphones
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was provided by the manufacturer for testing and review purposes.