Update on the Amazon Echo and Home Automation

August 2, 2017

Hello, I thought I’d give you an update into my adventures in the Amazon Echo and home automation.  I’m still really enjoying my virtual assistant.  Since my last post I’ve added a few more items to my home automation setup.  My home now includes two Philips Hue Bloom lights, a Philips Hue Go (thank you, employer, for your rewards program 😀 ) a Harmony hub and a second Amazon Echo Dot for our bedroom.  My husband prefers more tried and true methods of controlling our home, but even he has occasionally tried having Alexa control stuff.  It certainly amuses him when Alexa doesn’t quite… perform as expected shall we say.

The part of my home automation setup I love the most is my Philips Hue lights.  Being able to play around with them is awesome and they can make such a difference to my room.  I think I’ve just about resolved my issue with being able to set scenes with Alexa – you do need to be quite particular with the syntax you use unfortunately.  Once I got that down it was much easier.  The addition of the Harmony hub made combining routines much easier.  Now I can say Alexa, set bedtime and she will turn off the living room lights, turn on a nightlight in the bathroom and turn on the bedroom lights to a gentle glow for me.  

I also tried to configure geolocation as well so that our hall lights will turn on as soon as I (or to be more specific, my iPhone) gets near home.  I only set it up a couple of days ago and so far I’ve not been out after dark to test it.  We lead a quiet life!

My impression of the Harmony hub is somewhat mixed.  I’ve not had the time to really configure it yet.  I’ve set it up to do some basic things like turn on and off my TV and dim the lights, but configuration of it to work perfectly will take a bit of time.  I’ll continue to work on it though.  I do like how it combines managing my entertainment systems and my Philips Hue lights together, so that one command will turn on the TV and Apple TV, switch to Netflix and dim the lights.  It’s neat.

I really wish Amazon would provide support for the Echo in Canada.  There’s a lot you can do, but also a lot that is missing, specifically location based information.  It would be lovely not to have to add “in Montreal” when asking for the weather or to be able to ask when the local Home Depot is open.  My Alexa goal is to be able to ask her when the next number 57 bus to town will leave!

Let me know of your experiences with home automation in the comments.

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