I was impressed with J.A.R.V.I.S from the Iron Man movie, and now I owned one. Her name is Alexa
She can’t fly me around like J.A.R.V.I.S does, but she certainly listen and response to my commands. To activate Amazon Echo, just say “Alexa”, and she is ready to receive my command.
Controling my house using Alexa
My initial intention was to use Alexa as personal assistant just like Siri and Google Now, play music, finding information online and listening to radio station (Ask her for some jokes if you want some laughter). After a while, I discovered that her potential is more than just a personal assistant.
Amazon Echo was built to work with Wink devices, Philips Hue and WeMo (device used to build smart home), so I unleashed her full potential similar to J.A.R.V.I.S. I’m still working on how she can initiate the conversation by detecting the changes of my surrouding.
I started by teaching the IP2IR universal remote controller to understand all my remote controllers (TV, Amplifier, Starhub setup box, LG HomBot). Following by create scenes in Vera Edge base on scenario which later can be execute by Echo. Now all my remote controllers are resting inside the cabinet.
Next, I setup ha-bridge between Echo and HA system on a Raspberry Pi. The function of the ha-bridge is to mimic all Z-Wave devices and scenes as Philip Hue bulb. From there I’m able to control my devices through Alexa.
Finally, the result is what you just watch in the video above.
Below is diagram how everything is links together.
In the video you might noticed I asked “Alexa, what is the weather in Singapore”. This is because Amazon Echo is only available in the US, I can’t customized it to local time zone. So just I need to specified the location I wish to know.
Another trade off is, my schedule will not work accurately. The nearest zip code I used was 96910 which belong to a city named Hagatna in Guam (GMT +10).
It is not 100% every time Alexa understood or catch what I’m saying when my TV voice is too loud. She seems to confuse who she supposes to listen to.
There is a learning curve need to go through to understand how she pickup my command, and I’m glad she learnt.
I wish I could tell Alexa to perform 2 tasks at the same time, E.g. Alexa, turn on TV and switch to Channel 5″. Too bad, not at this stage.
The fun part
The possibility of the usage is only limited by imagination.
Home automation is a plus to Alexa, she bring lots of convenience to me and my wife after month of using it.
Upon leaving the house for work or a night walk, I told Alexa to turn on away mode, and all lights off and she greet us Good bye.
Once we step into the house from a busy day, she automatically greet us “welcome home” with our favourite song start playing.
Before heading to the bed, I told Alexa to turn on night mode. TV, all lights off, bedroom air conditioner on.
At the price of USD180, I personally think Amazon Echo worth the price tag, consider the awesome experiences and convenience we enjoyed.
To find out more features about Amazon Echo, watch the video below.
That’s all folks. See you next time.