Playing around with Amazon Echo (technical interface discussion)

They’re using it to operate nonHue devices as on/off, by tricking Echo into thinking those are also Hues.


Ah, thanks… (more dots and commentary
to reach the 20 character post minimum :).

Just wanted to add my thanks. Successfully got this setup and working. Still would like more native integration, but all in all pretty cool. Thanks for posting!

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This is working so well I have started converting one of my old notebook computers into an ubuntu server so I can keep it up and running on my network. Nice work!

Won some WAF (Wife acceptance factor) on both my ST expenses and my Echo purchase she thinks our voice controlled house is pretty cool :smile:


So what can Amazon Echo currently do with SmartThings? Keep in mind, code is a 4 letter word to me so I would certainly me copying off everyone’s test here. :smile:

I am setting up Smart Things in my new house for the first time in the coming weeks and I am acquiring various pieces including an impulse buy of an Echo last night (C-List). Only recently did I look into voice control, which isn’t all that important to me currently, but will obviously be important to the long term future of Home Automation & Control.

Should I be acquiring Philips items to control with Echo? I was buying switches instead of bulbs. Ubi vs. Echo, does Ubi currently offer more control of Smart Things plus voice notifications? So many decisions and so many routes my head hurts!!!

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As of this writing, May 12, 2015, there is no official way to control smart things directly through echo.

You can use IFTTT as a “Man in the middle” since both echo and smart things have IFT TT channels. The problem is that the only thing you can do in the Echo channel is triggered based on any item being added to the to do list, or any item being added to the shopping list. So you could tell smart things to turn on the kitchen lights whenever you told echo to add something to your shopping list, but it’s a pretty limited way of doing things.

However, we do know that several independent developers who have official access to the echo development environment are working on smart things apps for echo, and so we can assume that there will be some kind of working control within a few months. What we don’t know is how graceful it will be.

UBI currently has a nice, graceful interface with SmartThings. The problem hasn’t been what it can do, but rather the quality of its voice recognition. So for a lot of people, it just doesn’t understand what they’re asking it to do. Same problem with the IVEE. But if you find that the UBI does understand you, it has a better interface with smartthings right now.

If you’re willing to wait a few months, it’s likely that the echo will be a better choice. It has pretty amazing voice recognition.

If you already have an Echo and want to use it to control lights right now, bulbs that work via a Philips Hue bridge are your best bet for both immediate functionality and long term integration.

For more discussion on voice control options with smart things, see:

Re: bulbs that work via a Philips Hue bridge are your best bet for both immediate functionality and long term integration

is the control limited to on/off at the moment or can you dim the bulbs (and if so, commands?)

It will dim, but not change color:

[quote=“jovanm, post:78, topic:14887”]
is the control limited to on/off at the moment or can you dim the bulbs (and if so, commands?)
[/quote]turn light foo on/off - “set light foo brightness to 0-100” “dim/brighten light foo”

These seem to work. Echo doesn’t have a fixed vocab, which is one of the neat things about it.

What I want:

“Is the house secure?”
“Are any windows open?”
"Set the (downstairs) thermostat to heating, and set to 69 degrees"

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You’ll get all this and more.

I just worry about context setting (“open SmartThings”) and who might have to pay for ongoing costs.

I am not seeing the data directory you are referring to. I have my Jar in top level of C within a sub folder of echosmart but all I get is the Jar.

The data file should be where you ran from not where the Jar file is.
How are you starting the jar ?
What folder are you in when you do it ?

Yes, in my case I have a Windows CMD file that starts the jar up from the folder where the jar is, so the data directory gets created in that folder.

The java app is working great for me… for one command. Once I start the app, I can control one device one time, and then Alexa tells me she can’t reach the device or group named whatever. If I stop and then restart the app, same thing… one command works, then nothing.

Anyone with similar experience, or ideas?


Got mine. Haven’t tried the hack, probably won’t. But, man, the voice recognition on this thing is amazing! Covers most of the main floor, no problems. Not picky. Understands 4 or 5 people easily. Answers clearly if we ask for something the device doesn’t do, no weird responses or dumb jokes. (You can get dumb jokes, but you have to intentionally ask for them. :wink:)

The first full featured home automation system that integrates well with this, or provides an equivalent, will likely get my business. The race is on!


I am working on a Echo Smart things appliance which will provide the Hue Emulation as detailed above. I want it to be a plug in appliance that acts as your hue bridge and is configurable by simply connecting to it via a browser.

But I have a road block in regard to the Oauth configuration.
The problem is the appliance will be on you local network with a standard ip such as

Looking at the Oauth Process in the example you need to provide a redirect URL to acquire the access code and accessToken

But since the appliance will be behind your router it can’t be reached.

I only see two options.

  1. I have to get an external web site to run the auth process
  2. I have to configure my router with port forwarding to my appliance and use my router’s external IP address as the redirect url. This will make this appliance very difficult to configure.

Is there some way that I can acquire the authorization I need from behind my router without these difficult options ?

This appliance would be sweet but I can’t figure out how to get past this road block.

I think this is the most workable solution, unfortunately. You can enable UPnP in the router to allow dynamic port forwarding requests, but many people disable this for security reasons.

BTW: If this is to be a commercial product, you’re completely out of luck, as Philips explicitly forbids the creation of Hue Bridge emulators (per API license agreement).

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That is what I thought. I already configured my version for port forwarding and it works fine. I didn’t really want to make this a “commercial” product. But I was considering offering to make these for folks in the ST community. I guess that would violate the agreement so I will just make it for myself :smile:

I looks like armzilla’s emulation code a violation of the terms. I don’t think it needs to be a commercial product.

From the Hue agreement for API access

-We want all your apps to work with our API to form a rich ecosystem of interoperable applications, so it is a condition of access to our API documentation that you do not use it to develop or distribute any bridges or devices which interpret the hue API.

Of course this is a temporary project until Echo works with Smart Things directly.

Yes. Unless some court finds that APIs can’t be protected by copyright.

It’s not copyright law, just a contract agreement. Simpler and completely enforceable.

I could write a contract that says any developer who uses my code has to wear a green hat in any YouTube videos demonstrating anything based on that code and the courts would be fine with it. Developers agree to the terms when they sign up for access. You don’t like the terms, don’t sign up.

Copyright infringement is a separate set of issues which might also apply. But the contract agreement doesn’t depend on copyright protection to hold up.