On October 1, 2016, Amazon added the ability to turn on a " routine" from Alexa. If you want to use that method, see the official support article.
Note that the official method will not allow you to use echo to run any routine that includes a lock or a Smart Home Monitor armed state change or another device class that Alexa does not know. The method described below in this FAQ will, but it does require that you create a virtual switch.
Although at present echo can only request that smartthings turn devices on, off or dim, by using a virtual switch, you can tell echo to turn that switch on or off, and then have all kinds of things happen in smartthings. For example, if you want to have echo turn on Party Mode, you would create a virtual switch in smartthings, authorize echo to use it, and then on the SmartThings side set up a smart app that will change the mode to Party whenever that switch is flipped.
From then on whenever you tell echo “Alexa, turn on Party mode,” SmartThings will switch to Party mode.
A virtual switch is defined in the IDE using a device type, typically a “simulated switch” or a “momentary button tile.” Once you have defined it, the switch is treated like any physical switch that is connected to the smartthings network. It will have a tile on the things screen in the smartthings mobile app and you can toggle it there. You can also access it from other systems that are integrated with smartthings, like echo, harmony, or IFTTT. Just like it was a physical switch.
So the basic steps are:
1) create a virtual switch in SmartThings.
FAQ on creating a virtual switch:
2) set up smartthings to do something when that virtual switch is turned on.
I used to recommend the “Alexa helper” smart app for this, but it has become extremely complicated over time, and I find it I just get a lot of people coming back and saying they can’t figure out how to use that.
So you can go ahead and use the Alexa helper app if you want to. But if you want a simpler version, just use the “switch activates home phrase” Smart app which is available in the official SmartThings mobile app in the marketplace section under lights and switches. ( “Home phrase” is the old name for “routine,” but means the same thing.)
The main difference between this one and Alexa helper is that with this one you have to remember to turn the switch off again before you’ll be able to use it a second time. But it’s definitely easier to understand and set up.
If you want the switch to turn itself off again automatically you can add an additional smart lighting automation and use the power allowance feature to turn The virtual binary switch off again after one minute. That way it will be ready again the next time you want to use it.
If you do want something more powerful with many more options, take a look at “Alexa helper.”
It will work with both momentary or binary switches, and can trigger either a mode change or a Routine.
3) AUTHORIZE AN INTEGRATED SERVICE, LIKE ECHO, TO ACCESS THE VIRTUAL SWITCH
For echo, you just have to have associated Echo with SmartThings, then discover the authorized device. Here is the FAQ on setting up echo and smartthings if you haven’t already done that:
If you already have echo set up but now you are adding a new device that you want to go to control , see step 10 in the first post of the thread.
The process for harmony, or IFTTT, is similar. The main point is that once you have created the virtual switch over on the smartthings side, it looks just like any other device connected to your network. So you authorize it for use by integrated services in the same way as any other device.
4) use an echo group to fine-tune the voice command you will use.
Sometimes I like to use a different name for the device in the SmartThings network then I will use to say to echo. For example, maybe I call the virtual switch “party mode virtual switch” in the smartthings device list. But I don’t want to say all that to echo each time.
So in the echo app I would create a group called “party mode” and I would put the one device, “party mode virtual switch” into that group. From then on, I could just say “turn party mode on” and echo would tell smartthings to turn on that virtual switch.
So that’s how you get Echo to change the mode in SmartThings. You create a virtual switch in SmartThings, set up SmartThings to change the mode when that virtual switch goes on, and give Echo permission to access that virtual switch.