FAQ: Amazon Echo: The Official SmartThings Integration is here! (Initial SetUp FAQ)

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#1

NEW: Alexa IFTTT Triggers

As of November 12, 2015, there are now two official ways to integrate Alexa and SmartThings.

The first way is fast and simple, and can do any one thing that you can do in the official SmartThings IFTTT channel.

You pick any phrase you want to use, and use that as the “if” in the Alexa channel at IFTTT for a new recipe. Then you just pick from the dropdown options in the SmartThings IFTTT channel as the “that.”

To use a recipe, you say “Alexa, trigger {my phrase}.”

So you could say “Alexa, trigger open the pod bay doors” to open your garage door, “Alexa, trigger autodestruct” to turn on your siren, “Alexa, trigger kitchen lights” to turn on your kitchen light. Whatever you want. This is the power of IFTTT, and why SmartThings having a channel there is so useful.

If you haven’t used IFTTT before, the following is a good tutorial:

And this is the SmartThings IFTTT information.

The Second Official Integration: Connected Home Devices

The second method is an integration specific to SmartThings and echo. With this method, you will be able to group multiple devices together, such as a group of lights. You also won’t have to include the word trigger. Set up is a little more complicated, but straightforward. This method does not use IFTTT.

(We previously had a FAQ on some first step integrations which involve various workarounds. I’m leaving that up because it does have all the links for the people who want to write their own servers and stuff. But as of August 21, 2015, SMARTTHINGS is now one of the official “connected home devices” that The Amazon echo will work with, and it’s a great integration. So this FAQ is specifically for the official integration. I will put a link at the very end of this to the do it yourself coding FAQ. )

Steps for the official connected home method are very easy:

  1. open the Amazon echo app

  2. Click on “settings”

  3. click on “connected home”

  4. look for the section that says “device links.” SmartThings will appear in this list and you will be able to choose it. Click here, and sign into your smartthings account.

  1. you will see a list of the smartthings devices that you can add to your echo account. Just pick the ones you want to add. These can include virtual switches, which will be very useful for things like mode changes.

If you have a device like a WeMo switch or a Phillips hue bulb which was already added to your echo account through a different service, you don’t need to authorize it again from your smartthings list. Echo lets you combine devices from different services into the same group, so you’ll have all the same functionality. My personal recommendation would be to only authorize devices on the SmartThings list which are not already authorized from another service.

Once you have selected all the devices you want to add to your echo account, you will return to the connected home screen.

  1. scroll all the way down near the bottom of the connected home screen until you see “discover devices.” Tap that, and Amazon will make the connection with SmartThings.

  1. now the smartthings devices that you selected in step five should show up in the device list on the connected home page.

  2. you can now add new groups, or add the smart things devices to your existing groups. You could have a group that includes some smartthings devices and some non-smart things devices. You can also include the same device in many different groups.

Tip: Names and Numbers if your smartthings device name includes a number, “kitchen 1”, then echo will have a lot of problems with it and it will miss a lot of commands. You could fix this by changing the device name in smartthings. But if you don’t want to do that, you can also create a group in echo that has only one device in it and just give the group an echofriendly name like “kitchen ceiling.”

Tip: “You say ‘chickpea,’ I say ‘garbanzo’” if two people in your household call the same room by different names, like “study” and “office” just make different groups with the different names, but the same devices,and then both commands will work. This is a really voice-friendly design. :sunglasses:

Tip: you can also set up a group based on the use case, rather than a room. For example, I have a group called “bedtime” which turns on a pathway of lights through several rooms from the living room to The bedroom and also triggers my good night mode using a virtual switch. So I can just say “Alexa, bedtime on.”

  1. once you have the link to smartthings established, the devices authorized on the smartthings side, the devices discovered by echo, and the Discovered devices put into groups, you are ready to use echo commands. Echo uses natural language, and it’s really great. You can say “turn on kitchen ceiling,” “turn on the kitchen ceiling,”, “turn the kitchen ceiling on,” “Switch on kitchen ceiling,” “kitchen ceiling on” and a bunch of other variations and it will likely figure it out. Works really well.

Your basic commands are “on,” "off, " “dim to…” See echo’s help for more information.

  1. To add more devices in the future. if in the future you want to add more smartthings-controlled devices to your echo account, it’s really easy, but it’s the one thing that is not intuitive. You can do it from either the Amazon echo app or from the smartthings mobile app.

10a) to do it from the smartthings mobile app, open the context menu icon ( three vertical dots or three horizontal lines depending on the version) at the top right of the screen. Choose “SmartApps.”

SmartThings automatically installed an Amazon echo smartapp for you when you linked it to echo.

Click on the on the “Amazon echo” tile, and you will see the list of devices you currently have authorized for Echo to use.

Click on the green plus sign in the lower right, and you will be able to add or remove devices from the authorized list.

Click Done at the top right of the screen when you are done. This will return you to the list of authorized devices.

Click next at the top right of the list screen.

Now have Echo “discover new devices.” When it is done, click Done at the top right of the Discover page.

10b) Alternatively, you can do this in the Amazon echo app. If you’re already in the Echo app, Go to settings, connected home, and then unlink smartthings. Now link it again and it will take you back to the sign in page for your account and then let you authorize the devices you want echo to be able to control. Make sure all the devices you want to control through echo are checked, not just the new ones.

Now you are back to step seven in the list above. You will need to discover the devices and then group them.

Adding new devices through the SmartThings mobile app is a little bit faster, but it doesn’t let you change the echo groups. So which method you will use just depends on exactly what you’re trying to do.

11) Echo Control of Routines

As others have said, this is a really great integration. And you can combine it with some of the other really great smartthings integrations, like IFTTT, by using virtual switches. So using echo with a SmartThings controlled virtual switch now gives you a natural language voice trigger you can use for anything with an IFTTT channel. Totally awesome. :sunglasses:

You can also use a virtual switch to trigger a Routine or a Mode change.

The following FAQ explains how to do that:

12) What about Locks?

There are three choices for echo control of locks.

The easiest way is just to use the Alexa IFTTT trigger method detailed at the top of this post. Choose a trigger phrase for the Alexa channel, choose lock in the SmartThings channel, and you’re done. Your voice phrase will be “Alexa, trigger {my phrase}” so you can make it as simple as "Alexa, trigger unlock the front door. "

Alternatively, if you want to use the official SmartThings/echo integration that doesn’t use IFTTT, there are two methods for that. Since echo only currently recognizes thermostats, switches and lights, Locks won’t show up when you discover the device. So you have to link them to a switch that echo can recognize.

The first way to do this is just to use a routine and the instructions from step 11 above .

Alternatively, you can associate a switch directly with the lock as @luna has done in the following thread:

13) What about Thermostats?

Echo has an official integration with Ecobee and Nest.

As of March 2016, Echo added thermostats as a device class, so you will now be able to control them through the regular SmartThings integration. Not all thermostats appear to support Auto mode, however.

14) Additional Resources for Programmers with Alexa Development Accounts

If you have an Alexa developer account, or if you are a programmer who is interested in getting into this side of things, some community members have worked on unofficial projects to enable you to do much more with echo, such as querying current device status. However these do require both technical interest and skill. Here’s one example.

This has led to the development of two separate community – created projects, AskAlexa and EchoSisstant. Both will require you to set up an Amazon developers account, but you will be able to do much more with Alexa than the native integration provides.

For more information, see:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa

And

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=EchoSistant

15) Previous methods

And, as promised, here’s the link to the old FAQ that covered all the ways people were doing echo integration before this official integration was available. But honestly, the official integration is much better unless you want to run your own servers and stuff like that.


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(Ben Edwards) #3

Thanks JD!

Also wanted to post to the official knowledgebase article from the support team.


(Morgan) #4

Great article @JDRoberts.

Where is the thread that talks about setting up a virtual switch, and which SmartApp should i use to change mode or hello home action based upon the switch?

I searched but i couldn’t seem to find it.

Thanks


(Darc Ranger) #5

Hello Home Phrase director maybe what you are looking for,


#6

Setting Up Virtual Switches for Echo to Use

First create the virtual switch in SmartThings

FAQ on creating a virtual switch:

This will now look like a physical switch to both smartthings and any third-party service that you have authorized to use smartthings devices. That includes echo, IFT TT, harmony, etc.

So you can toggle it on and off from the mobile app, use it in a routine, use it in a smart app, authorize echo to turn it on and off, etc.

Using the Virtual Switch to Change Mode or Run a Routine

To have a virtual switch change the mode or initiate a routine, you need to use a smartApp to recognize when the switch changes and then do what you want done.

@MichaelS Has created a very useful smart app called “Alexa helper” which will let you sign up to six switches (binary or momentary) in one pass to change the mode or initiate a routine. Perfect for echo. :sunglasses:

Once the Switch is Created and the SmartApp is Set Up in SmartThings to Use it, Just Authorize Echo to Control It

Once the switch is created and you have set up a smart app to do something when the switch is flipped, you can add The virtual switch to your list of authorized devices for echo to control just like any physical switch. See step 10 in the first post.

If you also want IFTTT to be able to access the new switch, you also need to update that authorization list.

TIP: Use the same Virtual Switch to trigger Multiple IFTTT Events.

@Will_Poirier pointed out in his hey Siri method that even though each IFTTT recipe can only have one “that”, you can use the same “If” in multiple recipes and they will all trigger at the same time.

So you could have the same smartthings virtual switch (turned on by Amazon echo) as the “if” in a recipe that triggered a SmartThings hello home action, A scout alarm action, an automatic car app action, a harmony activity, a Dropbox data collection action, A blink USB light, and an email, all with one Amazon echo voice command.

So using a virtual switch to trigger a Routine is great, because it lets you put together a bunch of different SmartThings events from the same trigger, but using IFTTT you can even go out to services that don’t have direct SmartThings integration and trigger them at the same time from the same switch.

One of my favorite things about smartthings is The IFTTT channel, especially when used with virtual switches, and this is just another example of how powerful that can be. :sunglasses:


(S Gord) #7

@JDRoberts What kind of things will you use the IFTTT for? Trying to imagine some practical uses.


#8

Because I’m quadriparetic I use voice control for as many things as possible.

Right now, I use IFTTT integrations to use voice to launch harmony activities.

The current harmony/smart things integration lets me control SmartThings switches from Harmony but doesn’t let me control harmony from smartthings except via motion sensors.

By using IFTTT, I can turn my television on and have it start with the Roku tuned to Netflix, I can turn off all my entertainment devices, Basically anything I can put into a harmony activity I now have voice control over. Those are the ones I use all the time.

If you have a sprinkler system with an IFTTT channel but it has not integrated with smartthings, you could use this method for Voice control to set a pause or a rain delay. Same thing if you have any other appliances that do have IFTTT channels but don’t have smartthings integration.

There are some lights like misfit and blink that have IFTTT but don’t have SmartThings integration.

This method would also give me natural language voice control of Lutron Serena shades.

The big advantage that smartthings has is the ability to create virtual switches and then use those with both Alexa and IFTTT.

So some people will use it a lot, some people won’t use it at all. For someone like me, IFTTT gives me voice control of many devices that don’t offer it natively. I was already doing this using voice text, but those can get a little awkward. Definitely not natural language. With Alexa I don’t have to use hashtags or underscores or anything like that. :sunglasses:


(Jody) #9

For everyone that thinks it odd to say “Alexa turn on my XYZ virtual switch that controls mode change”,

You can say activate instead of turn on.


#10

Hmmm… That didn’t work for me. Just “switch on” or “turn on.”

For switch names, I just name the switches whatever words I want to say or put them in a group named whatever words I want to say.

So I would probably just say “Alexa, turn on Away.” Or whatever The mode name was. That is I would name the virtual switch the same name as the mode.


(Jody) #11

Just tested it again. Start, Activate, and Turn on all work for me. Deactivate does not.


(John S) #12

This is the KEY thing to do to make Echo awesome. Forget the actual names, use names here for activities, rooms, etc. Make several names for the same set of lights if people call em different things. Go crazy. Well, within reason. At any rate, nice, long single words for groups work best. Making sure that only one word/phrase is likely to match is very helpful for the matching algorithm too.

Great writeup!


(Scott Windmiller) #13

Great FAQ!
I have 2 questions:

  1. Just so I understand, you can use SmartThings as the middle man between the Echo and IFTTT because the Echo cannot talk directly to the echo, right?
  2. Do we know if there is a device limit in the Echo. Either connected devices or groups?

I just about have all the info I need to get started. I have a TON of ideas!

Thanks so much!
Scott


#14

If I understand your question, echo does have its own IFTTT channel but it’s just for things like the shopping list and the to do list. So it doesn’t really help and if you do use it for home automation control then you can’t use the shopping list as a shopping list.

So yes the chain is:

Spoken command

Echo recognizes switch command

SmartThings flips virtual switch because echo tells it to

IFTTT triggers next event because smartthings switch changed state

Event occurs

So, for example, I now have an event to turn off the power to my TV and other associated entertainment center devices. This is a harmony activity.

So this chain is:

I tell echo “Alexa, turn on the TV”

Echo recognizes that as a command to turn on a smartthings-controlled switch named TV

SmartThings turns on the virtual switch called TV because echo told it to

IFTTT is subscribed to the events of that switch through a recipe that IF that SMARTTHINGS switch turns on, then tell Harmony to turn on the activity “Power.” So it recognizes that the virtual switch was turned on, and tells harmony to turn on the “power” activity.

Harmony turns on the TV. :sunglasses:

I know that seems like a lot of steps, but it all happens in literally a second or two, and it works great. I really like it.

I I have posted the exact details of my Alexa/SmartThings/Harmony setup in Projects:


(Tom forti) #15

@JDRoberts thanks for this got set up in about 2 mins, while I’m down at the shore for the weekend! Off topic question though, what is “echo nightstand”


#16

In my device list? Nightstand is just the name we’ve assigned to one of the table lamps in the bedroom.


(Tom forti) #17

Ahh. Just wasn’t sure if it an app or something because it was under convenience and it is called “echo nightstand”


(Scott Windmiller) #18

Perfect and I completely understand now :smile:

Do you know if there is a device limit in the Echo. Either connected devices or groups?

Thanks for all your help!

I just like to know all of this stuff before I dive in deep :smile:


#19

Oh, that one! That’s a copy of “the big switch” smartapp with the name changed so I know what it is.

Before the official integration was available, I was using the big switch smart app to have a Z wave switch follow a Phillips bulb. I could turn the Phillips bulb (which is on the nightstand) on using echo, and then the overhead light which is on a zwave switch is supposed to do the same thing as the nightstand. Sometimes it worked great, sometimes it didn’t work at all, sometimes there would be a 10 minute lag.

But now I don’t need to use that because the zwave switch can be controlled by Echo directly with the new SmartThings integration. :sunglasses: :bulb: :bulb:


(Tom forti) #20

Ahh yes I too was happy to uninstall some of my smartapps and endpoint that were used for the workaround. And it reminds me that I really have to thank @zpriddy and @Ron for some serious hard work they put into getting a solution for intergration ST and Echo up until today. Thank you guys!!


#21

Don’t know if there’s a limit on the total number of devices that echo can handle. If anyone else does know, please post.