It is Possible to have remote mics Amazon Echo Alexa

echo

(Kurt Sanders) #1

Continuing the discussion from Echo Alexa - Remote microphones for whole house:

I am not sure I buy the whole high fidelity microphone being the ONLY way to skin this cat. Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Sir work acceptably with their general purpose internal microphone when saying their wake commands , “Hey Siri” or “Hey Cortana”.

I am confident that the Amazon Alexa engineers are working on a future version that will allow some remote depreciated microphones to be added to the main unit, much like how thermostats like Ecobee now have multiple room remote sensors (temperature and motion) that provide some limited type of added functionally…


(Chrisb) #2

The big difference, in my opinion, is that your pretty dang close to Siri or Cortana when you talk to them. Echo can hear and understand when I’m 10+ feet away, with the TV on or even when she’s playing music.

I’d say SmartPhone mics are probably like Ubi… Ubi does a decent job of hearing me if:

  1. I’m relatively close (10 feet or less)
  2. I’m facing Ubi
  3. There is little to no background noise

Take an of those three away and Ubi’s performance degrades substantially. But Echo will hear me quite well anywhere in the large den I have, even if the TV is on… even if the Echo is playing music, even if I’m not facing Echo.

I would say the other issue is that Echo is always listening… the device is waiting to hear Alexa before it acts, but it’s always listen and processing what it hear locally so that as soon as it hear ‘Alexa’ it starts streaming the audio.

If you start adding in more and more mics that’s more and more audio streams that is has to be listening to and short term recording. A big house could end up with LOTS and LOTS of mics and LOTS and LOTS of audio data. I think that’s why Amazon’s remotes require the button push rather than just the wake word.

I think the far easier, though granted… much more expensive… option is to simply get more echos.


(JP) #3

More echos if fine … if they linked :smile:


(Beckwith) #4

Agreed. Unfortunately, only one will work with SmartThings. Also, Echo does not yet handle this yet.

I would like one in each room.


(Kurt Sanders) #5

IMHO, in one possible future, remote “directional” Echo microphones would be, at best, a depreciated experience. This meaning that the remote microphone would {most likely} not perform as well as the dedicated main microphones on the Amazon Echo.

Amazon Echo is primarily dedicated to detecting and processing spoken voice commands, where as Siri and Cortana are co-existing with other priority competing resource applications and their internal generic microphone is suited to lower quality phone calls, not optimal translation of the spoken audio wave, like Echo. But, they do perform suitably for the spoken word when in proximity, which as you pointed out, is very close.

You might have a point, as Amazon Echo Marketing would like their existing customers to purchase more “main” units for additional rooms in the house. They could be mesh networked so synchronization of configurations, playing whole house music and presence awareness, etc to name a few benefits.

Time will tell!


(Scott Alexander) #6

Are you sure only one will work with SmartThings? They way the link is done at the Alexa account level I would assume multiple echos would be fine with the same SmartThings location. It’s the multiple echo controlling devices from multiple SmartThings hubs that I know doesn’t work due to each 3rd party integration getting single smart app that can only work with a single location.


(Beckwith) #7

I thought only one oauth token was allowed similar to the issue with Automatic. However, I can’t find anything in the forums that confirms this.


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #8

I can confirm that both of my echo’s are able to control smartthings devices. The echo is nothing more than a gateway to Alexa. Alexa is the brain of the operation. Echo is only the ears and mouth.

Amazon has opened Alexa to others that wish to have it in their devices. For example, am Alexa enabled alarm clock sitting next to your bed would have the same ability as the echo. Everything comes from the cloud.

I do not believe there will be remote microphones. What will happen is there will be many Alexa enabled devices in your home.

If the echo was still 99.00 I would have a lot more than two. I’m hoping that sometime soon we will see the Alexa enabled devices on the market.

I honestly believe this is how Amazon intends Alexa to completely run your home.

Also, both echo devices can be used at the same time, independently of each other. They can both be streaming different music and control different lights at the same time.

Two major drawback at this time is that one echo can not talk to another echo. Second, echo can receive command from anything other than the remote and your voice.


(Beckwith) #9

Cool!

Can you link SmartThings with more than one profile? My wife likes to play her music on her profile, but I have SmartThings set up on mine.


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #10

FYI… Amazon is already making that move.


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #11

Yes, you can. Go into settings and it’s there down at the bottom. I can’t remember what it says before you link the other account because it changes and tells you who you are in an Amazon household with. Then you just say, "Alexa, what account are we in? " and then you say “Alexa, change accounts”

Also, look for directions under “things to try” than “what’s new”


#12

Yep. Our household has two echoes, two Amazon profiles, but each echo controls the same SmartThings devices, no problem. And we can switch from one profile to the other and play music from either profile on each device.

So when you talk about “link” it depends on what you mean. It’s not like Sonos where the two speakers play the same thing at the same time. But there’s no problem having each echo device control The same home automation devices. :sunglasses:


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #13

Well, you can link two Amazon accounts to your echo account. So if two people have a separate account where they have been gathering music and books and stuff they can both be used with one echo account.

I see this scenario for two adults that have recently married or such.

This way both persons can play their individual preferences using the same account.

In my case my wife of two years did nothing with her Amazon account except shop. So it went away in favor of my rather old account.

Echo also allows you to register multiple Google calendar accounts. In my house this is very much used.


(Mike Maxwell) #14

HUH?, I have two of them (first floor and second floor), no issues…


(Mike Maxwell) #15

I submitted this feature request to amazon:
Please consider adding a “room” name assignment to each echo.
Then adjust the connected device voice actions to prepend the room name to the device request prior to sending to the connected device.
Ex: room=kitchen
Connected device name=kitchen lights
Request: turn on the lights
Resulting echo action: turn on the kitchen lights
Should (room) device not exist, try device before giving up.
A user could walk into any room with an echo in it and simply say turn on the lights…
How awesome would that be?
And you’ll sell more echos…


(Chrisb) #16

It’s a good idea as long as only the Echo in the current room hears you.

In my case I have my echo in my den, which is pretty open to the dining room, which is completely open to the kitchen. If I had a Echo in the kitchen and the den, it’s possible saying ‘turn on the lights’ in the Kitchen might turn on the lights in the den as well if that echo hears it.

Of course, the easy solution is for Amazon to add more wake words beyond just Alexa and Amazon. All the Den echo Alexa, but the Kitchen echo is Betty. Then I just say: Betty, turn on the lights… problem solved!


#17

Right, I know many people who find that one echo covers an entire floor of their house if they have a fairly open floor plan. Another example of “all home automation is local.”

At our house, one echo controls the lights in nine rooms ( without the remote) . That doesn’t seem to be atypical.

I’d be OK with assigning a group to an individual echo and allowing that same group name to be re-used by a different echo for its personally assigned devices… But for me, one of the real powers of Echo is that I’m not constrained by a rooms paradigm. I can set up groups anyway I want. :sunglasses:


(Mike Maxwell) #18

Yea, unlike the ST group/room confusion er migration…
I wasn’t suggesting a security, or even an association layer between Echo groups as currently implemented and the “room” assignment I proposed.
My suggestion was an (optional) “room” field, that would be assignable to each echo.
If present for that echo, then a user issued home automation command would be prepended with the “room” name.
This would allow the same command to be issued to different rooms, and be automatically mapped to different end point devices.
It’s a simple (optional) location context enhancement.
… turn on the lights… maps to turn on the dining room lights
… turn on the lights… maps to turn on the master bed room lights
if dining room lights isn’t an actual device, then the “room” is dropped and we issue the command as spoken.


(Scott Alexander) #19

Yeah I like the suggestion. HA is all about programming intent. You’re arriving at home, you likely intend to turn the lights on, open the garage, and unlock the door. Let me take care of that for you. Its only natural to localize that intent further down to an even more localized layer. Having echo asume an ambiguous identifier first refers to an object loosely associated with the echo hearing the utterance and only if ambiguity still remains asking for clarification sounds like a great idea.


#20

April 2015, I suggested a similar concept in the Amazon Echo Forum.

http://www.amazon.com/forum/kindle/ref=cm_cd_et_md_pl?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1D7SY3BVSESG&cdMsgID=Mx1B8MJ39JG812P&cdMsgNo=4408&cdPage=177&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx1LI8F2XZ6JQ5G#Mx1B8MJ39JG812P

Bottom line of this concept idea was to have the always on mic capability throughout the home vs using the Echo remote via Bluetooth. I guess the topic was not interesting enough for the Amazon forum. It is nice to hear the STC engaging on this.

As a interim solution I decided to use the echo remote as the remote mic. At least in the areas where Bluetooth is in range. Still do not like having to press the button on the mic to talk; however I can control all functions of Echo/Alexa as if I was talking directly to the echo device. A couple/three of these remotes placed strategically throughout the home provides remote communication with Alexa without the need for a second Echo device.

I am still hopeful Amazon or a third party will adopt the always on mic concept as a companion device for the Echo. In theory this would be a lower cost solution than multiple Echo devices and would bring us closer to full hands free home automation.

Cheers