Muh Hon Cheng

@honcheng

A Smart Home with SG NextBus using Google Home & Amazon Echo

January 17th 2017

If you have a mobile phone and commute often by bus in Singapore, chances are you have used or at least heard of SG Buses or SG NextBus.

SG NextBus in iOS and watchOS

They are most often used to find out when the next bus is arriving at a bus stop. They are also one of the first few apps made for Singapore to launch on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry 10, Pebble Watch and Apple Watch.

With bus arrival time, commuters can make informed decisions about whether it is faster to reach their destination by bus or by the MRT (our version of subway). They can also find out which bus can bring them to their destination sooner.

There is also another use case. Like most homes and offices in Singapore, mine is just minutes away from a bus stop. To avoid waiting at the bus stop, my colleagues and I would do a quick check for the bus arrival time before leaving office. While it is not a big hassle, it is something we do almost on a daily basis.

But what if this can be a more seamless experience?

Some bus stops in Singapore have display panels for bus arrival time. They are great to get information at a glance. Imagine having the display panel at home/office where you can just glance to figure out if you should leave now to catch the bus. SG NextBus for LaMetric is my first foray into adapting my mobile apps for smart home/office. LaMetric is a smart clock. With its always on display, it emulates these display panels.

SG NextBus app for Lametric Smart Clock, showing arrival time for bus 30 at pre-configured bus stop.

Once you have SG NextBus installed in LaMetric via the companion app, just configure a bus number and bus stop of interest, and you are set. It shows when your bus will arrive throughout the day. It is a hands-free solution that minimizes distraction.

LaMetric is a rather niche device. It was launched in KickStarter, and it is now available for purchase by the public. Amazon Echo and Google Home on the other hand, are much more popular and more likely to be found in homes and office.

They are like Siri, but live in standalone speakers. You can get them to control things in your home/office or ask them for information.

With SG Buses/SG NextBus now available for Amazon Echo and Google Home, you can ask them when the next bus is arriving too.

Amazon Echo is powered by Alexa, a voice assistant. You can use a companion app on your mobile phone, also called Alexa to add Alexa Skills. SG Buses is one of the skills available.

Use the mobile companion app called Alexa to find and install SG Buses Alexa Skill. If you have default bus stop set, Alexa will announce arrival time for buses at the bus stop automatically when asked. You can ask for buses elsewhere if you provide the bus stop number.

It is even easier with Google Home. There are no apps to install. Just ask Google.

OK Google, ask SG NextBus when is the next bus arriving?

These platforms are great for smart homes. And now there is an extra option if you are a commuter in Singapore.

If you have a chance to try these apps, do send me your feedback. These are platforms are still new to me, and I will appreciate if you can help me to understand how you use them.

The first time the app is launched in Google Home, SG NextBus will guide users to setup a default bus stop and bus numbers. This requires users to give permission to the app to access user location’s to find bus stops nearby.
On subsequent launch, the app hints how users can ask for bus arrival time.
Hacker Noon is how hackers start their afternoons. We’re a part of the @AMI family. We are now accepting submissions and happy to discuss advertising & sponsorship opportunities.
If you enjoyed this story, we recommend reading our latest tech stories and trending tech stories. Until next time, don’t take the realities of the world for granted!

More by Muh Hon Cheng

More Related Stories