Home Assistant 2023.5 has arrived, along with Chapter 2 of Year of the Voice - Home Assistant's main vision and focus for this year - which brings in a bunch of new local voice assistant features!
Let's get into it!
Year of the Voice: Chapter 2
Last week, Home Assistant held a dedicated live stream that was all about Chapter 2 of Year of the Voice, where they gave technical information and demo’d all of the new voice features coming out in this release which was really cool.
Assist Pipelines are one of the most significant new additions to Home Assistant's voice features. A pipeline basically allows you to configure how all of the components that make up assist work, including the conversation agent component, the text to speech component and the speech to text component. A pipeline is a core critical function for interacting with Home Assistant with your voice.
To configure your assistant pipelines, you'll need to head over to the settings menu, where you'll find a new menu called voice assistants. From there, you can configure multiple pipelines, each with different configurations, which is particularly useful for households with multiple languages.
You will need to configure at least one pipeline in Home Assistant before you can use any of the new voice features.
ESPHome powered Smart Speakers
Another exciting new addition to Home Assistant's voice features is the first iteration of ESPHome-powered smart speakers. These speakers allow you to use an ESP32 with a microphone and speaker to give push-to-talk voice commands to Home Assistant.
![smart-speaker](insert image URL)
This is done through two new Home Assistant add-ons, Whisper and Piper, which handle speech-to-text and text-to-speech, respectively. Both add-ons can work locally without cloud processing, which results in faster command processing.
Many of you, myself included, are looking forward to wake word detection rather than push-to-talk. The developers have mentioned this is coming, it’s just a really difficult thing to do locally so Chapter 1 and now Chapter 2 of year of the voice are all building blocks heading towards wake word detection.
So it’s not in this release but we are moving closer towards it!
Talk to Home Assistant through a telephone!?
During the livestream, Paulus and Mike showed off talking to Home Assistant through an old school telephone!?
It works with pretty much any old school analogue telephone, and allows you to pick up the handset and start talking to Home Assistant's Assist feature, again all done locally.
The Home Assistant 2023.5 release makes this possible because of the new voice over IP (VOIP) integration, which allows you to communicate directly with the Assist feature through an analogue phone. This is accomplished through a device called the Grandstream HT801, which connects to Home Assistant through VOIP.
With the "off hook auto dial" feature, you only need to lift the handset, and it will immediately connect to Home Assistant and be ready to take commands. Multiple commands can be spoken, and Home Assistant will keep listening.
Other Exciting Updates
In addition to the new voice features, Home Assistant's latest release also includes several other exciting updates.
Webhook support has been extended to include the get method and can now be limited to only work on your local network, improving security.
You can also now control the built-in LEDs on the Home Assistant Yellow, allowing you to turn them off for a stealthy look.
Finally, Blueprints now have a new selector that allows users to select the assist pipeline and language for automations. This can be especially useful for multi-language households or those who want to customize their voice assistant experience.
All the little things
As always there is a bunch of minor but still great additions this release:
Other noteworthy changes
There is much more juice in this release; here are some of the other noteworthy changes this release:
- Home Assistant Operating System v10 has been released! The ODROID M-1 is now supported, improved data disk support and memory management. Bug fixes and reliability improvements for Bluetooth and Thread.
- Matter now has support for covers, thanks @hidaris!
- The process of making backups is now faster 🚀, thanks @bdraco!
- @bdraco also gave the ONVIF integration some love, which should improve the stability of the integration. Nice!
- You can now set up multiple instances of the OpenAI Conversation integration with, for example, different prompts. Thanks, @balloob!
- @rubenbe added direction support to MQTT fans! Nice!
- BTHome added support for button and dimmer events. This means it supports the brand new Shelly BLU Button1! Thanks, @Ernst79!
- The Supervisor can now create repair issues for some of the issues it detected on your system. Awesome @mdegat01!
- @mib1185 added a service to allow sorting of the Shopping list. Thanks!
- @depoll added an attribute to the Person entities that list the device trackers for this person. Very useful for templates! Thanks!
- The NextDNS integration added a whole bunch of new parental control switches, thanks @bieniu!
- Synology DSM can now browse your Synology Photos in the media browser. Cool addition, @lodesmets!
- Simplepush now supports attachments, thanks to @tymm!
- Some Z-Wave notification sensors won’t clear to idle automatically. Now you can use the new notification idle buttons to idle them manually!
As usual, make sure to check out the breaking changes section before upgrading, it's a pretty small list this month and I don't see anything major but please do make sure to check it out.