[Edge] Virtual Scene Switcher, more than a fun way to cycle through scenes

Build a Pomodoro timer with smart lights

The Pomodoro technique is a method to balance focus time and breaks to keep concentration high. There are intervals of focus of around 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break and all repeated 4 times. Then you get a longer break and restart the timer.

Let’s build one with just two routines. I will use the colour of a smart light to indicate if it’s focus time (blue) or break time (red). You can add notifications, announcements in smart speakers, etc. Will start the timer with a button but you can start it with anything else, like a voice assistant command triggering a virtual switch.

Here goes a tip. The scene switcher cannot have different delays between steps, unless they are random, and we need steps of 25 minutes for focus time and 5 minutes for short breaks. The workaround is creating “ticks” of 5 minutes. Focus time will span 5 ticks, short breaks 1. That’s 6 ticks, usually repeated 4 times.

Switcher settings:

  • Create a new Switcher using instructions in first post
  • Number of scenes to cycle: 6
  • Starting scene: “Initial”
  • Circular behaviour if not stopped: “Ends right before starting scene”
  • Circular max loops: 4
  • Inside Long spanning auto-cycle: Switching delay: 5 minutes

The scenes / routines:

  • If Active scene matches 1 Then set your light blue.
  • If Active scene matches 6 Then set your light red.

To start the Pomodo timer use the action Auto-cycle [ > ] that you can assign to a button or routine. To stop, use the Auto-cycle [ STOP ], you can even create an automation so when the light turns off, the STOP action runs.

(Edit: the virtual button in dashboard introduced later can control the timer too, in Dashboard button action choose Smart Auto-cycle [ > / Stop ].)

You can test that everything works by setting 0 minutes, that will make focus intervals last 5 seconds and break intervals last 1 second so the whole run will take you 24 seconds.