Of course Amazon already solved this particular use case when they added the option for “Alexa, lights on” to work with a set of customer-specified lights in any given room, but, yeah, it’s nice to see other companies aware of the real life issues.
Amazon calls this “context aware lighting.“ We use this all the time because we have so many people coming and going. We are three housemates, so we all have friends and family, and then I also have health aides.
We used to literally tape printouts on the wall to tell people what to say in different rooms! It was pretty ridiculous.
Now everybody just learns to say “Alexa, lights on” and “Alexa, lights off” and that handles whatever room they’re in. It works great. It’s also full AI, so it accepts variations like “Alexa, turn the lights off” or “Alexa, shut the lights off.” Etc
None of this happens by default, you have to set it up. You choose a specific echo device and then assign specific individual lights to it. After that, when that device hears the instruction, it applies it to those lights.
We usually set it up so it just turns the ceiling fixture on and off. In a few rooms we also include some of the table lamps. But it’s up to you, which is one of the things we like about it. The only thing we Don’t like is that each light can only be in one control group. There are ways around this, but it gets more complicated.
Here’s a good detailed how to article on setting this up.
Google has a similar feature, though it’s less assigning specific lights to a Google home and more putting both the lights and the Google home in the proper room. If you then tell Google to simply “turn on the lights” it will turn on the lights in the room you’re in. It’s a great feature, until you only want specific lights and then you have to use the actual name of the lights.
From the descriptions above, it seems like Alexa is ahead of Google in this regard. I use Google, and I either have to be perfect in what you say, as you indicated, or google turns everything on/off, which is rarely what I want and typically screws things up.
We use both, and that has been our experience. Like sensors triggering routines, Alexa is just ahead of Google Assistant in these specific functions right now. But both continue to add features, so Google may catch up on this eventually.
I’ve not set up context aware lighting, but I’m going to do so now.
But when we are in the kitchen, the Ecobee “smartcamera” (with Alexa) in the front hall sometimes answers instead of the Echo in the kitchen, so that would be annoying.
(Actually, we’ve changed our wake-word to “Computer” on every Alexa device that supports it (the smartcamera does not), since one of my wife’s friends is named Alexa, which makes it difficult to mention her in a discussion.)
Yeah, we do have a couple of Echo devices using alternative wake words to avoid some confusion.
We have an open plan house where the kitchen and the living room only have a half wall between them. There’s an echo show in the living room and a dot in the kitchen. We did end up changing the wake word on the living room to “computer“ because depending on which way someone was standing when they were talking, the wrong device might pick up the cue.
We also have two rooms where there is both an Alexa-controlled TV and another Alexa device. We like this because we like to be able to ask regular Alexa requests Like checking the weather or turning lights on and off without interrupting the viewing stream on the TV. So we’ve ended up using the new wake word, “ziggy,” for the two televisions. That’s easy to get used to, particularly since we only ask those devices for TV related functions. And it doesn’t seem to confuse visitors, since “Alexa, lights on” still works in those rooms.