About a year and a half maybe two years ago, I came across a kick starter campaign for a voice activated alarm clock/home assistant named Ivee Sleek. It promised Siri like assistant functionality with Google Now like voice activation features. It also promised to connect to connected home appliances and systems like the Philips Hue lights, SmartThings and the Staples connect hubs. It was a pretty big deal for me at the time. I had both Philips Hue and WeMo systems, I was and still am looking for the best connected home solution. It was a pretty tall order. The company behind the Ivee Sleek promised me and all kick starter backers the world. Remember the saying “under promise, over deliver?” this team did the exact opposite. They over promised big time, and sadly, also under delivered big time.
That’s not to say that it’s a bad concept. On paper, Ivee is fantastic. A voice activated alarm clock that can find information for you, turn your lights on and off, and manage your connected home. What more could an obsessive geek want? The answer to that question is, for it to actually work. From false activations, to not understanding, to getting things wrong, it would be easier to name the things that Ivee gets right than to name what it does wrong. Namely, it’s a very nicely designed product, that I’d proudly display anywhere in my home if it actually worked.
The problems start at setup which would be pretty cool using voice controls, but you have to go through a pretty convoluted website to do pretty much everything. And when you do use the voice controls Ivee hardly ever understands anything. It’s hard for me to write a bad review about Ivee, because I wanted to like it so badly. But I flat out don’t, and that really breaks my heart. It could have been so much more than what it actually is, and therein is what makes it so frustrating. It's easy to hate a bad product. It's really hard to hate something that has so much potential, because you want it to succeed. So much so that its gut wrenching when it not only doesn't deliver, it fails on every single level. This coming from a Google Glass lover, something that failed to meet a lot of expectations even though it had, and has tons of potential.
The few times that Ivee actually works the experience is magical. Being able to say Hello Ivee, turn off the lights and having the lights turn off is great. However about 99% of the time I instead have Ivee tell me the weather in some far off land, or turn on the radio, or tell me she didn’t understand me. Not to mention that Ivee absolutely refuses to respond to female voices. Great, I bought an inept, sexist, “smart” clock. Just what I needed.
To make things worse the company seems completely inept at fixing these issues. I mean I guess I should expect it. What else could I expect from a company that was about a year late on delivering, and started selling the product in Staples before even shipping to early bird kickstarter backers? Lateness can be excused if you deliver a working product. Nevermind that Ivee isn’t even close to working, after a year waiting and another year after it shipped. It’s inexcusable to start selling the product in stores before you send to your backers. Early bird backers at that! Who does that?
I mean trust me, there are other problems with Ivee. The ambient light sensor that’s supposed to automatically brighten or dim the display never works, at all. I can’t pick specific lights or WeMo products to control. It’s all or nothing. The radio never seems to get reception, and even the company’s beta update that’s supposed to help fix the speech recognition seems to fix nothing. But it’s hard to focus on anything else when the main element that you interface with is broken. It’s pretty hard to do anything with Ivee. Actually its impossible.
So impossible that I’ve given up doing anything with Ivee. I’ve turned off the voice activation feature because there were just way too many false activations. As a matter of fact I never use Ivee for anything anymore except to tell the time. I don’t even use the alarm because the feature to turn the alarm off by saying “Alarm Off” and having Ivee give you the date, time, and weather never works either. I now own a $200 clock. I could have bought one on Amazon, Best Buy, or even KMart for less than half the price. Unless by some kind of miracle Ivee stops being less useful than a huge pile of donkey crap, stay away. Stay far, far away. Seriously. You don’t want the pain that this thing will cause. I’ll wait for my Amazon Echo and hope for the best.