Alexa, the next to dominate in HA?

I have openly admitted many times over the past year, the main deciding factors on my decision to come over to ST was the announced Alexa integration combined with the release of V2 hub.

We already had this " argument " about whether or not Alexa ( regardless of whether in Dot, Echo, Tap, TV, Kindle ) is a hub or not this week. Give it a break.
The definitions of hub
Hub :
1 A hub is a common connection point for devices in a network.
2 The effective center of an activity, or network.
3 A central facility from which many services operate.

I don’t care if Alexa is just software on AWS, everybody know exactly what everybody is talking about when they talk about Alexa. It does not matter what piece of hardware you are accessing it from. Yes we all know the only direct connections to Echo, Dot, Tap etc are power, LAN & Bluetooth.

By Definition Echo/Dot is a Hub. It is a common connection point for multiple devices on the network. Through the Echo, I can control my Hue lights, my Ecobee thermostats, Wemo lights, make my phone ring so I can figure out where I left it , even listen to music , change channels on my TV.

There seems to be this big issue with some contributors this week about their official definition of a hub. A hub must have Z-wave , ZigBee radios & hopefully both and connect directly with other devices. Well if that is the definition of a hub, why do we all refer to Harmony hub as a hub ? It has none of those things,. It is just a big IR blaster. All it does is receive RF signals from a remote,or commands over internet and convert them to IR, So if Alexa taking a voice command and sending it out to the proper cloud to control light a or thermostat B does not classify it as a hub, how can an IR blaster that you hide in the cabinet be classified as a " hub" ?

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Give what a break? I think you may be misinterpreting something in my posts.

I didn’t read everything you wrote there, you seem invested in the topic. I have little interest.

I was not referring to you, I just started off replying to @JDRoberts reply to you on whether or not Alexa integration could effect people’s choice on HA.
The rest of my rant was to the people arguing about whether or not Echo is a HA hub. It seems that argument has forced its way into every thread in this forum this week by a few people.

At no time did I say that a hub had to have Zigbee or Zwave.

I said, as I have always said, that from an engineering standpoint for home automation a hub establishes the network that allows devices to communicate with each other.

The harmony hub meets that definition. It’s definitely not just an IR blaster. The remote can send a message to the television (IR) or the Roku (wifi) or the Fire TV (Bluetooth) because of message management in the hub.

If you just want to jump into the dictionary and pull out any English language definition of a word, certainly you can. But then it becomes very difficult to talk about what’s actually happening in a home automation network. “Association” for example has a very specific meaning in a Z wave context. It has lots of other meanings in the English language, but it only has one that applies when it comes to Defining communication between 2 zwave devices.

In English, “exclude,” “disassociate,” and “remove membership” are synonyms. But when discussing a Z wave network they have three different meanings. Not recognizing that can lead you into a whole world of problems.

And in wiring, both “common” and “neutral” have a meaning that is very different from everyday English.

I realize it’s frustrating, and and perhaps it would’ve been better if the engineering field had invented entirely new terminology for areas where specific meetings are important. So that a hub was not called a hub, it was called a “zorgoplex” or some other made up term, and then there would definitely be less confusion all around.

But that isn’t what happened historically. English words were taken and applied to specific technology situations and given limited meanings within that context.

The key to understanding the technical definition of “hub” in the home automation context as opposed to just a random English conversation is that it is a hardware device that on an engineering level controls how messages are sent from one device to another.

A smart home hub is a hardware device that connects the devices on a home automation network and controls communications among them.

It’s the post office.

It’s boringly simple from the end-user’s point of view, and maddeningly complex from the engineer’s.

It doesn’t facilitate the writing of the message. It doesn’t care about what’s inside the envelope. It is obsessively finicky about what goes on the outside of the envelope, and how much it costs to send the message.

I’m not asking that you redefine what “hub” means in every day English conversation. Only that you understand that there is a real world physics and engineering component to home automation and that world has its own terminology in which “hub” has a limited specific meaning.

Submitted with respect.


I guess I should have made a second comment when I started my rant .
I’ll give you the same excuse as I did @JH1. I was agreeing with you about ST / Alexa official integration in Aug 2015 , right along with the pre-orders of V2 hub.
Then I kept reading up/down the thread and saw the same old arguments about Alexa being just software and Echo just a speaker and in no way a hub
The rest of my rant was on the argument some people keep putting into every conversation about their definition of what defines a HA hub. So I gave the official dictionary of a hub and another example ( Harmony) of a " hub" that is nothing more than a IR blaster.
Since Alexa can in fact connect multiple devices even if through the internet, it is the center of many people’s HA. If not for Alexa/Hue all WAF would be gone after the past couple weeks of ST/Hue not turning on lights when it should. Since she can just ask Alexa to turn it on, it has had little effect on WAF.

I can say that my industry in at stemmed directly from the Alexa integration. There were only two reasons that I ventured into the winkverse first.

~ V2 hub was coming out in a month, so I waited
~ wink was already Alexa integrated

My entire system is based around the ability to have voice control for everything. Yes, I have a ton of automations, but at any moment I can override every aspect of the automation with just my voice. Soon, I will have voice control coverage in every part of my home.

My family uses Alexa to send messages to others in the house.

I would say mine is used well in excess of 16 times per day.

Without Alexa, I would not have any home automation.

EDIT< @RLDreams, personally I don’t care what is or is not a hub. Each component of the system is essential to the system, they can call it what ever they want. I don’t care if I have to build a server room to run my system and call Bob…

It’s all about coming home at night and my home welcomes me home.


I don’t believe you. You had ST before Echo? No?

No, I got Alexa first… then Wink for about 30 days… short enough to return it to HD… Then ST.

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Interesting. I guess people really want to talk to their houses.

So question for you. If Amazon shut down Alexa tomorrow, would you permanently shut down SmartThings?

Hmmmmm… It’s possible…

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[quote=“RLDreams, post:56, topic:57509”]
So I gave the official dictionary of a hub… and another example ( Harmony) of a " hub" that is nothing more than a IR blaster.[/quote]

If you were discussing manual transmission components on an automotive engineering forum and someone asked what a “clutch” is, would you consider, “a woman’s small purse that can be carried in the hand and usually has no handle or strap” to be a valid answer in that context?

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I also had my first Echo before acquiring any HA gear (a Hue Bridge followed by ST), and it did influence my decision to go with ST. But I can’t say that Alexa is so important that my HA setup would stop being useful without it.

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I can’t honestly say that either… I would keep it and just adapt it to what I need… ST is very integral to my system. Without the open platform and the community I could not do what I want it to do.

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I probably should have added…

“But I must say that HA would be a LOT less fun without a voice interface, especially one that gives the illusion that your house has a personality…of sorts.”


Yep, I’d add that to mine as well…

In my case, voice control is essential. But as long as there’s an IFTTT channel, you can send a voice text and get control of anything that way, including SmartThings. It’s not natural language, but it works.

And lots of people were using a combination of android, Tasker, and sharp tools for voice control of SmartThings before the echo integration.

I do like echo the best, but it’s not the only option for voice. :sunglasses:

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Alexa has an update to make it a better listener.

As I said In another thread if GH has Google assistant in it then it will more then likely be better the Alexa. It can have a back and forth conversation with you that none of the others can right now. Will know more when my pixel phone comes in a few days as it had Google assistant built in.

Alexa has made significant strides in the past few months. Better interactivity than before… but more significantly, the ability to call other Alexa devices, both in and out of the home.

Despite Google Home’s ability to carry on a better conversation, let’s face it, we’re mostly not buying these things for their conversational capabilities. Amazon is nailing down the functionalities.

Google will be playing catch-up for at least another couple years.