Playing around with Amazon Echo (technical interface discussion)

@zpriddy Are there any options for voice announcements with your app or does Amazon limit you to voice input and responses only? Right now I configuration that is more complex than I’d prefer to get announcements through the Echo like when mail has arrived, if a door opens after a certain hour, etc. It would be nice if Big Talker could interface directly with whatever you’re doing to use Echo as a voice output instead of needing to have Sonos or one of the DLNA interfaces (I’m using foobar2000).

Adding @rayzurbock for visibility also.

Hey guys, I had an idea for direct IFTTT integration rather than the cumbersome options Amazon provides. I noticed someone on Github (mefogle) had a similar idea so I made some customizations to allow direct voice commands sent to the IFTTT maker channel. This allows you to say something like “Alexa, tell my house to turn on the TV” or “Alexa, tell my house to turn on the lights” which would pass “turnonthetv” and “turnonthelights” to IFTTT Maker channel respectively which you can then pass to whatever channels you wanted.

I do still use the Hue Bridge for simple light commands as that flows better, but having the entire IFTTT channel library at your fingertips with simple commands is working out pretty well for everything else. All you have to do is sign up for ASK dev account and plop the code in AWS Lambda or your own server and you’re off to the races. I hope someone finds this useful.

Github Code:

Thanks go out to mefogle @ Github for the initial code.

Here’s another example of a direct IFTTT integration that’s in the works. Check out

Side note - having Google Alerts set up for “Amazon Echo” and “SmartThings” has really started to limit my productivity at the office.


Yeah the IFTTT maker channel is really powerful. That’s how Beecon+ is doing its IFTTT integration. Since Smartthings already has an IFTTT channel this should be trivial provided there’s a trusted source to host the skill.

This is actually really similar to @Will_Poirier 's method for using hey Siri to voice control smartthings, except that his is just a text message to IFTTT. Will is the one who pointed out that in IFTTT, the same trigger can be used with multiple events, which makes it really powerful. You could have an event called “good morning” and use it to trigger 15 different smartthings events from a single voice command. :sunglasses:

Now it’s official!

You can now control even more connected home devices with your voice using Amazon Echo. In addition to controlling lights and switches from Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, and Wink, Echo now supports Samsung SmartThings—including the new Samsung SmartThings Hub, the SmartThings Outlet, and the Lightify Smart Connected LED. A full list of Echo compatible devices can be found here.

To get started with SmartThings, connect your devices to your home Wi-Fi and name them in their respective app. Then say, “Alexa, discover my appliances.” After Echo’s confirmation, just ask:

“Alexa, turn on the television.”
“Alexa, turn on the stereo.”
“Alexa, turn off the lamp.”
“Alexa, turn on the porch light.”

Works great with virtual switches too, so we now have a natural voice interface to anything with a “that” IFTTT channel, using SmartThings as the “man in the middle.”

Just rebuilt the device list today and linked the SmartThings hub to Echo. Worked very well and it implements the dimming commands! I did have to delete some duplicate devices that got picked up from both the Hue Hub and the ST hub. Fortunately the Alexa app now lets you forget individual devices. Hue bridge did a great job for me waiting for the direct link. Thanks to all who made it happen.


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Yep. Setup went smoothly. All switches working fine. Wish it would have picked up my locks but I’ll just setup a virtual switch and Ifttt for that. :slight_smile:

I didn’t have the same luck with the Echo discovery. I have 4 Cree Connected lights, 2 WeMo LED lights and a z-wave (Quirky, I think) outlet/switch.

All devices are showing and are working in the ST app, but the Echo discovery only picks up the switch and one of the Cree lights.

I have rebooted the ST hub, the smartphone, and even started over in the Echo app by forgetting all ST devices and doing a new discovery. Still only those same two devices show up.

Any ideas?

I would check out this thread and accompanying support article:

If that doesn’t work you could contact support.

You do need a virtual switch, but if your locks are controlled by smart things, you don’t need IFTTT for that particular use case. You just use the big switch for hello home actions and have it unlock the door when you flip the virtual switch.

See number 31 under convenience:

You only need IFTTT in the mix if you are connecting to devices which are not controlled directly by the SmartThings.

Just remember with locks that there’s no security, this is a voice input. If you use “Alexa, turn on front door lock” to flip a virtual switch that unlocks your front door, someone could stand outside your house and yell the same thing and the door would unlock.

However, and this may well have been what you were thinking of, one of the big advantages to virtual switches is that you don’t have to assign actions to both the “on” and “off.”

You could set up a virtual switch that locks the door, and never set up anything for echo to use that unlocks the door. Then some stranger yelling could lock your door but they couldn’t unlock it. :sunglasses:

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Thanks for the reply. And indeed that was the problem; I had forgot to go into “Convenience > My device list” and re-enable those devices there. NooB error, LoL.


Thanks JD. And locking is all I wanted Alexa to do. :smile:

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Update. Got it working using Switch Activates Home Phrase app. :smile:

I’ll have to play with it tomorrow. I’m missing something simple I know.

I setup a virtual switch.
setup a hello home to lock doors
installed big switch

but when setting up big switch I can select the virtual switch but can’t find the hello home action to trigger. UGH

Headed out with the better half so will have to play tomorrow.

Now it’s time to repurpose those RPi’s that were running the echo bridge and turn them into more Amazon Echo’s using AVS.

I’ve got the server & client running, just no mic for input. Not sure how great it will be without a mic array, but hopefully a viable alternative considering it will be a < $50 “Alexa”.

Anybody else try this out yet?


I need to repurpose my Pi as well :smile:

As soon as I get home on Monday mine will be!!

I never realized they opened up the AVS portion of Alexa. The api really gives you a lot of power. Maybe we will see ST use this to send voice announcements out of the echo like what can be down with the sonos speakers currently.

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So I was reading though the AVS documentation. The way it reads, it looking like you have to hit a button to start listening and stop listening and you wouldn’t be able to use the Alexa or Amazon command. Am I reading that correct?

That’s correct as far as I can see too. It’s more proof of concept as of right now. I breezed right over that portion originally since I didn’t have a mic to begin with. Looks like we will have to wait a bit longer until it’s no longer a developer preview.