Discussion in 'Hardware Lounge' started by John F, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. John F

    John F Active Member War Zone Member

    Is anyone using Alexa to control their setup?

    I have a Onkyo receiver, an older Toshiba Plasma, and a first generation fire stick. I have a harmony remote that handles the TV and Receiver.

    What I would like to do is get an Amazon Echo and be able to say "Alexa, start watching TV" and have it turn on receiver, TV, and start a streaming app on the fire stick. I went to an Amazon popup kiosk, and the guy said it could be done with an Echo and a Harmony Hub. Has anyone done this with any combination of hardware? With a fire stick?

  2. Jay Brown

    Jay Brown Well-Known Member Donor Top Poster

    Although I've moved onto Google Home, I did have my system configured with an Echo Dot. You will need to link your Harmony and Amazon Echo accounts for this to work. You can use the Alexa app on your phone/tablet, or go to the Amazon website and sign in with your user credentials.

    The activities you already have set up for your Harmony Remote/Hub will then be used for voice activation using Alexa.

    "Alexa, turn on Television", for example, whatever devices you have configured for this activity can now be used with the voice.

    I'm not sure about the Firestick, but there are TONS of usesful tools to use with a Roku for specific commands such as watching Netflix or Hulu. I'm pretty sure by now there has to be just as many useful commands with a Firestick.

    (man the level of confidence regarding that last paragraph......)
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  3. DYohn

    DYohn Well-Known Member Donor

    Top Poster Of Month

    Like I think I posted before in this forum, I will not have any of those voice-activated devices in my home.

    Amazon: Our devices are not constantly monitoring your conversations. They are only active after they detect a keyword.
    User: How do they detect the keyword?
    Amazon: They are always monitoring for it.
    User: Uh huh.
    capsuleri likes this.
  4. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Admin War Zone Member

    I get what you mean but both can be true. Always listening but doesn't transmit or store anything for processing until it hears the keyword. It really comes down to who you trust. There have been accusations recently that your smart phone, both Android and Apple are always listening, based on ads people are being served after talking about something when their phone in the room. I have an ADT security camera in my living room. Are they secretly recording everything? Possible but doubtful.
    DYohn likes this.
  5. DustinDavis

    DustinDavis Well-Known Member War Zone Member

    My thoughts same as CJs. Listening for the keyword is a client-side only activity. I guess if you simply don't believe it, that's your prerogative. And there's no question Alexa in response to that keyword sends your command cloud-ways, does stuff with it, and persists metadata about it. So the argument about "constantly monitoring" being client-side only ends up being moot.
    DYohn likes this.
  6. DYohn

    DYohn Well-Known Member Donor

    Top Poster Of Month

    Absolutely which is why I have Siri disabled, even though that may or may not be much help. I’m actually much more concerned about the hacking opportunity than not trusting Amazon or Google or Apple. But I don’t trust them. :)
    capsuleri likes this.
  7. capsuleri

    capsuleri Well-Known Member War Zone Member

    Exactly the same reasons when/if I get a new TV I will disable the smart TV function. It's no one's business when and what I watch.
  8. Eric

    Eric Active Member

    I use Siri all the time when I'm driving for text messaging. Other than that, pretty much never use it.

    Just installed an Ecobee thermostat with Alexa. With no other smart devices in the house, it seems to be more of a novelty than anything.
  9. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Admin War Zone Member

    Its cute that you think turning it off means they're not listening.
    Brian Bunge and Drew like this.
  10. John F

    John F Active Member War Zone Member

    Trying to steer this back to my question ...:)

    I'm fairly sure the Harmony/Alexa part will work. I believe I won't need any additional IR blasters, although I may get some so I don't need the base in the middle of the room.

    I have a Fire TV also that has Alexa built in, and it will start the streaming app (Playstation Vue).

    What I was hoping for was someone with some experience for doing both the Harmony and Streaming app in one voice command?

    Or what I would really like to do is say "Alexa, Good Morning" and it will: 1) start up the Harmony stuff, 2) start the streaming app, and 3) tell me the current outside temperature. If this works out, I may look into other things like it talking to the thermostat and get a remote plug adapter.

    What started this all off for me... Our indoor/outdoor thermometer stopped working (the outdoor part), so I started using my phone. I started looking at indoor/outdoor thermometer for $20, so I figured for another $70, I could get an Echo and go from there. :)
  11. claud

    claud Well-Known Member Donor

    Steering this back to David's comment. I too do not need voice activation in my home. Must be an old guy or previously hacked computer user thing. I don't trust much that does something for me by interacting with it by voice.-------corporate monitoring or hacking available. On the other hand, I do use voice activation and interacting with my car. My 17 340i works much better hands free calling and nav.
  12. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Admin War Zone Member

    I think you can do all of this, you just need to set up the skills. Whether you can do them all with a single voice command I don't know (or maybe you could use one trigger skill and then use IFTTT to do the others). I'm an Apple household so I'm waiting for a little more compatibility in Home Kit and I'll probably be going down this path soon. I have a fairly extensive Zwave system but Apple doesn't support any of it. However it is too costly to switch out at this point so I'm hoping they eventually will.
    IFTTT helps your apps and devices work together
  13. DYohn

    DYohn Well-Known Member Donor

    Top Poster Of Month

    I'm old.
    Phil A and CJ like this.
  14. Randy Rhoton

    Randy Rhoton Well-Known Member Donor War Zone Member

    I kinda agree with David. And then there's this:

  15. DustinDavis

    DustinDavis Well-Known Member War Zone Member

    I also agree with David. He is old.
    DYohn likes this.
  16. Phil A

    Phil A Active Member Top Poster

    I really don't see a big need for it either. I have a couple of Fire Sticks and I got the ones without voice recognition. If I want to know the weather, I have a couple of Apps on my phone. If I'm listening to music or watching a movie and want to know something additional about an artist or actor, it is easy enough to take out the phone and look it up. I've had voice recognition in the past few vehicles (have the current one just over a couple of months) and if I use navigation, it is when I'm stopped and enter an address. It is on my agenda to eventually try it in the new vehicle to see how good it is, but not a priority. I've found that those things I've tried are generally not as fool proof as I'd like. And yes, I'm old too.
  17. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Admin War Zone Member

    I think doubts like this miss the point. I agree that "Alexa, what's the weather?" is not that compelling of a use case frankly. But "Siri, say goodnight" which locks any doors that are unlocked, set's the alarm to armed-home, turns the kitchen over-sink light to 10% for a nightlight, set's the thermostat down 3 degrees, turns off any other main floor lights after a 90 second delay, etc. is a much more compelling use case. As is "Siri, play Apple Music Hits of 1996 in the kitchen, living room and deck". We're just not there yet.
    John F likes this.
  18. DustinDavis

    DustinDavis Well-Known Member War Zone Member

    I hope Apple does better with Siri on home control than with vehicle navigation. My experience with Siri in the car is she's got no f***ing idea where she is going.
  19. Phil A

    Phil A Active Member Top Poster

    I agree if one uses it that way. It's not a big deal to me. If I'm home on the PC, like I am now, I'll watch a movie and the only lights I have on are the kitchen lights (they'll go off when the movies starts). They'll go off and then I have motion detecting night lights and power failure night lights. My thermostat is programmed and I can raise or lower it before bed. I have an alarm keypad in the bedroom. If it is a bit colder like it is now, I have small space heaters in the master bedroom I can set the temperature and time it stays on if I like. My front door also doesn't see much use as I come in and out of the garage. So basically in my routine tonight, I'll watch a movie and just go to sleep with not having to worry about what lights are on or whether the alarm is set (I can see it and almost touch it from my bed). btw the house is also solar so if I leave one of those energy saving bulbs on by accident, it's not a big deal. I'd be much happier if I said Siri put the clothes in the wash and when done move them to the dryer and then fold them and put them away and that was able to be done. My feeling is that the voice recognition stuff they have needs another generation or two to be better.
  20. John F

    John F Active Member War Zone Member

    I talked to my daughter who has an Echo, and she said there is currently a beta feature that allows macros. I'll probably stop by an Amazon store and call Amazon to see if I can get more info.

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