Non (yet!) developer Q: can virtual devices be more than binary?

Just a conceptual question. I would love the ability to use SmartThings as a ‘translator’ between Alexa and my home theater. I would love to do that while making minimal additions to my ever-growing device list. So then:

Are virtual devices binary? Open/closed, on/off? SPST?
Or can a virtual switch be multi-pole? 6PST?
So that “Alexa, tv input dvd”. “Alexa, tv input cable”, “Alexa, tv input Roku”, “Alexa, tv input camera” would all operate from one virtual device? Sort of the way Webcore variables can be strings, so you can hve a multitude of possible inputs/outputs for one item?

Even if they could, you’re not going to be able to issue those voice commands (Utterances) without writing your own skill or a literal army of individual voice Routines in Alexa.

For instance,

Strips off the wake word and we’re left with…

Tv, input dvd.

The problem is without a skill named TV Alexa wont know how to handle anything beyond the comma. So to solve that how many routines will you create?

I am aware of that. I would be willing to use, say, 20 of my 99 Alexa routines to do certain things. Mute is a biggie. Input changes would also be big. Audio configurations specific to how I like to watch certain things, such as dropping out the center channel to get rid of annoying announcers (like tony romo) during games is nice. A couple apps on the smart tv (such as YouTube), maybe even with specific vids such as a fireplace. I had a bunch of these things on IFTTT with Echo Speaks (via Tasker) before they made it a subscription service. Of course, there I was able to use variables (wasn’t it great?)….

There are many different kinds of virtual devices, you can take a look at what @taustin has done.

Just as an example, both a thermostat and a dimmer switch are multilevel devices. Not binary.

Prior to voice assistants, The type of use case you are describing was most typically done with a virtual dimmer, which gives you 100 different potential values (0 to 99). So you set the dimmer to 20, that means one thing, you set the dimmer to 30, that means something else.

You could do that with standard voice commands in Alexa, and you wouldn’t need an Alexa routine, you would just catch the value on the smartthings side. :sunglasses:. But if you want to make the commands easier to remember, then you would have to use Alexa routines to get custom voice commands.

Thanks to all who have responded so far.

My understanding of Alexa skills is that you can make a non-public skill, but that applies to private enterprise and there are fees involved. Else it’s published for public use, in which case of course you cannot have two million folks controlling your own tv lol. And that routines are the private ‘equivalent’ of a private skill.

A virtual dimmer sounds like what I would seek. SP99T!
“Alexa, tv input dvd” would be level one, and would send an http command to the tv.
Alexa, mute” could be level 28 and would send a POST command to the AVR.

I will definitely explore the taustin work. I loaded it, but my app needs to be updated to use it; given the issues I’m seeing out here, I’m loathe to perform that update right now. So I’m just rolling things around in my head for the time being.

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So at the moment, I’m using a simulated dimmer for Alexa voice controls for my AV system via Webcore. It’s working great. I tried the simulated thermostat, and it’s a PITA. This new arrangement is so good I might eventually move many such automations to the simulated dimmer; why have a dozen or more devices when you can have just one? So for example, level 40 is mute and level 39 is un-mute. After each command, I have the simulated dimmer go to 99 and power off.

I know I’ll eventually have to move this to Edge. But not yet.

Also I’m working on obtaining a second Denon network receiver. The programming is easy, and with an entire extra stereo zone plus 5 individual speaker outputs, running Zone1 in multichannel stereo mode, I’ll be able to distribute sound wherever I want. The backyard will be a 2-speaker pair, perhaps the bathroom with the hot tub will get the center speaker, the dining room will be Zone2 in stereo. That still leaves two entire stereo pairs that I don’t yet know where to utilize! Perhaps a second outdoor pair, and a pair in the garage. Who knows….