FAQ: Can I trigger an Echo Action without Speaking to It?

Breaking News!!! As of August 2018, a SmartThings-connected Contact or Motion Sensor can now trigger an Amazon echo routine if you live in the US, Canada, or the UK !!!

Amazon has now added the ability for some sensors to trigger an Amazon echo routine (not a smartthings routine), which does let you trigger other smart home devices which are not connected to SmartThings without having to speak an echo command! Or you can set it up so that your echo devices will speak a customized phrase, play a doorbell chime, or various other sound effects. :tada:

And even better, that contact sensor can be a virtual contact sensor. And SmartThings let’s you create a virtual device which is BOTH a switch and a sensor. So you can set up the logic on the SmartThings side however you want, then turning the switch on will mark the sensor as “opened.“ So you can just turn the switch on and off with a SmartThings routine or other automation. :sunglasses::bulb:

The setup using a physical contact sensor is very easy. The set up using a virtual contact sensor is more work, but may well be worth it.

This now works for US, Canada, and UK accounts. It is likely that more countries will be added in the future, just check your Alexa app to see what’s possible.

Here’s the Alexa article on creating a routine.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=G2PYLKJN3XVZ55EQ

Routines are in an if/then format, only Amazon calls it

When this happens/action

For “When this happens,” choose “Smart Home” and then pick the sensor (physical or virtual) you want to trigger the routine.

For “Add action,” choose “Smart Home” if you want to have Alexa control a device.

Choose “Sounds” if you want to have Alexa Play a sound effect like a doorbell chime or dogs barking.

Choose “Send announcement” if you want to have any or all of your echo devices speak a custom announcement.

Choose “Skills” if you want to have Alexa activate one of your skills without having to speak to it.

December 2020 Update

If you live in the United States, Amazon has now added the ability for a “custom action” as the last step in a routine. This allows you to have a routine do anything that you can speak to Alexa. This is a great way to add partial Integration with devices/skills that work with Alexa but not with smartthings. However, it is still only one way: you can have smartthings as the “if“ using the virtual Sensor method and the other device/skill as the “that“, but not the other way around for most items.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GLXY7RFX3L5GH2VR

See the following How To article in the community-created wiki for details, including an Edge Driver if you want to use the combined sensor/switch method.

(if Alexa can see your sensor but the sensor will not trigger an echo routine, follow the steps in the how to article exactly and that will fix that problem. :sunglasses: )

How to use SmartThings to have Alexa do something without speaking to it - Things That Are Smart Wiki

We should also mention that as of November 10, 2018, Amazon echo buttons (two for $20, about the size of a deck of cards) can also trigger an echo routine. So you can press the button and have the echo routine turn on a virtual switch which then triggers pretty much anything you want in SmartThings. :rocket: The button won’t be visible to smartthings, but it’s a nice alternative means of control if you already have an echo in that room.

Also, as of November 2019, they have also added some sound effects options, including doorbell chimes, a dog barking, and sirens. Thanks to @fido for pointing that out in another thread!

And as of March 2021, Flic buttons are another physical button that can be used to trigger an Amazon routine.

Flic buttons now trigger Alexa Routines (March 2021)

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Thanks for this @JDRoberts! I do use the Amazon Fire Tablets in conjunction with Echo Devices to trigger music and feedback for certain ST Events. It works well! Actually quite well.

I use LANnouncer and the TTS voice synthesizer for the Amazon Fire Tablets is actually quite pleasing. Having a Fire Tablets connected to the Echo Devices also offers visual feedback for the Echo Devices.

Finally, when you add Action Tiles to the equation, you get a whole lot of bang for buck!

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Nice write-up. Here’s one very specific question which I’m not sure I’ve heard covered yet.

Let’s say you have a Sonos speaker which has the Echo device built in to it. Can you use one of those to “talk to itself”? In other words, can it speak and listen at the same time?

I believe the maker channel has been renamed/replaced with the Webhooks service. More info on using Notify Me with IFTTT can be found here: http://www.thomptronics.com/notify-me#IFTTT

Is there a way to make a web request in SmartThings without IFTTT? If there is, SmartThings could use Notify Me without the IFTTT “middleman.”

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Yes, as @Darwin points out below, you can do it with WebCore.

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You should be able to use a WebCore “make a web request” task as an action directly:

URL (value): https://api.notifymyecho.com/v1/NotifyMe?notification=Hello%20World!&accessCode=ACCESS_CODE

Method (value): GET

Content Type (value): FORM

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Thanks! I will need to look into this one.

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Hi Ron,
I am looking to setup things similar to what you describe in your post. I am hoping to enable a switch in smartthings (virtual?) to send a custom phrase to an Android device with lannouncer. This device would be positioned such that it is in earshot of a dedicated Echo I have hardwired to a computer running Airfoil. The Alexa routine I currently have configured (works when I speak to the Echo) sets an airfoil speaker to a specific volume and launches a specific Pandora station. I was successful in setting up lannouncer and can play a siren sound on the device from smartthings. I’m stuck as to where to go from here in regards to sending a specific phrase to lannouncer via smartthings. Is there a specific smartapp I’m missing? Any help or direction would be appreciated!
-Dave

I use webCoRE for pretty much all of my rules…well any new rules.

Here’s an example of TTS using webCoRE.

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Thanks for sharing the example. I’ve heard of webCoRE but don’t know much about it. Time to learn!

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Webcore has its own forum, there Will be lots of people there to help you. :sunglasses:

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Ron…thanks for following up with this example! I am hoping to tie a virtual switch within Smartthings (and eventually Action Tiles) to an almost identical Piston. I successfully installed WebCoRE last night and will hopefully have time later this week to try things out. The possibilities seem endless with WebCoRE! Thanks again for taking the time to share this information.

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Are you using anything in addition to Lannouncer (ie Big Talker) to enable text to speech in your setup? I created an identical piston to the simple example you provided. The only change I had to make was to set ttsdevice 'Unknown Device 7" to the Lannouncer device in my setup. The piston appears to execute without any issues. However, no speech can be heard coming from my tablet running Lannouncer. I used CURL to send the same command on one of my computers and received the response “LANNOUNCER: OK” indicating, I believe, that my Lannouncer configuration is correct. One other thing I did notice is that under the settings for audio volumes in Lannouncer, the item “Volume Setting for Text To Speech” is greyed out. The documentation for Lannouncer is fairly detailed but I cannot seem to find any specific information about this particular setting. Have you or others ever come across this issue?

Only using LANnouncer on Fire Tablets and a couple of other off branded tablets. The only thing I really change is the setting Enable GCM. (Don’t know if this matters but I remember having issues at first so I always click it)

Make sure that LANnouncer is running in the background.

Am I correct in understanding that to-date it’s still not possible to have a Alexa routine run by itself from ST? Alexa has routines that allows me to make custom TTS announcements, but unless I actually schedule it to run or speak to trigger it, then it just won’t play. So I have a wifi speaker which works with TTS and I am able to get webCoRE to speak custom TTS . So I’m thinking maybe if i put a echo dot and this speaker next to each other, housed in some enclosure to prevent sound escaping and then put it somewhere like the loft on low volume and then trigger alexa routines by the TTS wifi speaker speaking to the echo do, will that work? Only concern would be the potential of heat buildup if i place the devices inside a enclosure to sound-proof it.

Sorry, the first post in this thread was pretty confusing, but I have now edited it and it should make more sense.

The very good news is that as of August 2018, you can indeed have an Alexa routine run based on an event occurring in SmartThings. It’s just that the only events that it recognizes are motion sensors and contact sensors. But it will work with a virtual contact sensor. Please see the first post in this thread now that it has been edited and I think everything will be clear. :sunglasses:

Sorry am I missing something? When i load the Alexa app and go to Routines to create a new routine, under the when this happens am I supposed to be able to select a contact sensor? because all I can seem to select is Voice or Schedule

Please read the discussion thread linked to in the first post. There are some quirks in getting everything set up, and if you read through that thread it will explain The details. ( this is a clickable link)

So it seems maybe it isn’t available in the UK yet. That’s a real shame. This feature is soo overdue and now it’s here, how long do we in the UK have to wait? Why are Amazon so slow at rolling things out outside of USA?

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