The Amazon Echo, a cylindrical $180 plug-in Wi-Fi speaker with voice control capabilities, already works with a variety of smart home gadgets, from hubs like SmartThings, Wink and Insteon to standalone products from Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo and Lifx. (The Echo is currently available for purchase in the US only. Its current price is $180 which converts to about £125 or AUS250.)
Through these existing collaborations you can ask Alexa, the Echo's Siri-style voice assistant, to turn on your connected LEDs, lock a door and more. So far, though, there haven't been any direct integrations with smart thermostats.
As fellow IFTTT partners --- a Web-based service that allows products from other manufacturers to work together via open APIs -- Nest's Learning Thermostat and the Amazon Echo can talk to one another, but instead of saying "Alexa, set my thermostat to 70," you'd have to say "Alexa, trigger Nest to 70." That's one key way that the Ecobee3's Echo integration stands out.
And although somewhat similar to Nest, the $249 Ecobee3 manages to differentiate itself even further with a remote sensor that provides a more accurate reading of your home's ambient temperature, a Power Extender Kit that helps folks without a C-wire install the thermostat and integrations with Apple's HomeKit, SmartThings and Wink.
Today's collaboration with Amazon solidifies the Ecobee3 as the most "third-party-friendly" Wi-Fi thermostat available today. We're planning to test out this functionality at the CNET Smart Home to see if this sort of direct "Alexa, set my thermostat to 70" control really does dramatically enhance the overall user experience. Stay tuned.