SmartThings Community

Smartthings+Echo+Harmony Hub = Voice Controlled TV! (2016 version)

I would suggest you have ST control the AC instead of the Harmony hub, then you can turn on the TV, that would be the only “activity command” Harmony would care about.

Then you could say turn on AC and ST would issue the command.

You have to think about the Harmony commands like your pressing the buttons on the remote. If your switching activities on the remote it will in turn turn off things that are not in that activity.

Thanks for your replies
I got it to work with Alexa controlling my tv. I am still having issues with the air conditioner. When I say turn on the air conditioner it turns off the tv. When I say turn on the tv it turns off the air conditioner due to only one activity allowed to be running at a time.
I would hook the air conditioner directly to smartthings. but it is controlled via ir so I need some type of ir blaster to send commands to it. Is there anyway to control harmony devices directly bit through an activity through smartthings.

Harmony only allows one “entertainment” activity to be running at a time, but will allow as many “home control” activities at once as you want. The problem comes with how they define “entertainment activity,” which turns out to be anything which uses an IR remote! That’s what can throw things off.

There are various ways around it, but many require buying a separate controller device and that’s not always a good cost effective strategy. Just as an example, if the current official integration is working to harmony hubs ( it was for a while, then it wasn’t, I don’t know where it is now) you could put the air conditioner on a different harmony hub. But again, that requires investing in additional hardware. (you could also just set the second harmony have up as its own harmony account, not connected to SmartThings, and just use the IFTTT channels or the Yonomi app to allow voice control by echo of that harmony without involving smartthings in that at all.)

I have heard in the past of some people asking harmony support if a device like an air conditioner could be moved to the Home control category, but I don’t know if they still do that. You could always ask them and see if the device can be reclassified for your account, as that’s the simplest solution.

Brought over from another thread:

JD: Can I ask you a few quick questions. When you set up the simulated switch to power off your “entertainment”, do you: 1) Start sequence = power virtual switch on?
2) End sequence = power virtual switch off?

Or just have the start sequence as power off?

I understanding inserting this power virtual switch in every Harmony activity with the start - on and end = off, but when it converts to smartthings, is this embedded now in the smartthings activity?
Lastly, when you have your new smartthings activity set up such as: “Turn on the TV”, do you just have the start switch but no end switch since you are powering off your “entertainment” with another switch?

Thanks for answering if you can! I’m sorry to bother you again!

I guess I’m confused with the command line. Doesn’t this automatically apply it without additional input? So, will the TV mute automatically as part of the turn on process?

I saw a Harmony employee suggestion to add this as a step to each device that needs it, then add a a Mute activity separately. I tried this, but if I was “watching TV” and tried to activate Mute, the Mute worked but I couldn’t get it to unmute. I tried setting the Mute as a binary switch, but that didn’t seem to help.

What am I missing?

Thanks to any response!

The following thread is the most up-to-date on the official SmartThings/echo integration, so I would ask your question there.

That said, two quick thoughts.

One) you might want to just use the IFT TT integration between echo and harmony to begin with while you’re figuring everything else out. It’s very easy, does not require any virtual switches, and actually doesn’t use smartthings at all. It does use the “Alexa, trigger Disney Channel” format, and some people don’t like the use of the word trigger. So you may well want to replace it with the official smartthings integration once you work that out. But meanwhile, you’ll have immediate successful voice control of harmony through echo, which is fun. And you get to start working out the quirks of harmony activities, which is going to be essential. Before you can do anything else, you have to have an activity set up in harmony that will do what you wanted to do.

Just look at the first section in the following thread for how to use the IFTTT trigger method. Don’t look at anything else there. The rest of it is all out of date.

  1. The names of your switches should just be simple names. Don’t use “please” or “turn on” or anything like that for your virtual switches. You’re going to be saying “Alexa, turn on {name of your switch}.” You don’t want to be saying “Alexa, turn on please turn on the television.” Your switch names should be as short and distinctive as possible, typically one or two words. So “television” “DVD” etc. it may help to think of these as the button names on the TV remote. When you want to tell Someone else to press a button, which button name would you use? You probably wouldn’t name a button “please turn on the fire TV.” The button name would just be “fire TV.”

You will find a few short names that won’t work because echo has reserve those for their own use. This will include things like play, pause, power, off, Etc. so you have to think of something else to call those. see:

If you’re using the official method, it now creates a virtual switches for your existing harmony activities at the time that you add the harmony hub to smartthings. The last time I looked at it it also appended [harmony] to each switch name, which most people remove since it just gets in the way when you’re talking to echo.

Anyway, make the switch names short and unique. Just putting a please in front of everyone is going to cause echo to give you that response “which device did you mean?”

Hang in there, because once you have this working it’s both very practical and lots of fun. :tada: That’s one reason I recommend starting with the IFTTT method for a few activities while you’re working out the set up for the other method just so you can get the inspiration of having something working right away.

Again, though, look at the first link I posted for the most up to date information on the official integration. :sunglasses:

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Thank you JD. Your comments are always extremely helpful. I have read many others! :wink:

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JD: Can I ask you a few quick questions. When you set up the simulated switch to power off your “entertainment”, do you: 1) Start sequence = power virtual switch on?
2) End sequence = power virtual switch off?

Or just have the start sequence as power off?

I understanding inserting this power virtual switch in every Harmony activity with the start - on and end = off, but when it converts to smartthings, is this embedded now in the smartthings activity?
Lastly, when you have your new smartthings activity set up such as: “Turn on the TV”, do you just have the start switch but no end switch since you are powering off your “entertainment” with another switch?

Thanks for answering if you can! I’m sorry to bother you again!

It’s not a bother, but it’s pretty far off topic for this thread. Why don’t you ask your question again in the 2016 Harmony thread that I linked to above. :sunglasses:

ok dokey! Thanks!

It looks like this will enable individual command to be sent from Echo to Harmony Hub directly by creating a custom Harmony skill for the Echo.

I’ve the basic CLI version of the above tool working, so now I can send all commands to the Harmony Hub from a PC.

However, I’ve had no luck getting the custom Harmony Echo skill working. Anyone have experience setting up a custom Echo skill?

I know this is a little late, but if you are still around, I want to use echo to control Harmony Hub without IFTTT too. So, inside the Android Samsung App, click marketplace, click smartapps. There is no Amazon Echo in this list. I’m missing something I guess?

Here is another app that lets you control your harmony hub from a local PC.

This is the solution I came up with to MUTE and UNMUTE my tv (through the receiver) using voice commands with Echo/Alexa without changing inputs or powering other devices off.

MY DEVICES: TV, AVR (Sony STRDN1040), Verizon cable set top box, SmartThings hub, Harmony hub, Amazon Echo.

This assumes you already have Alexa/Echo set up correctly to command your activities. (eg. “Alexa, Watch Netflix” – turns on tv and receiver to correct inputs.)

Go into your Harmony app and do the following:

Change the TV, receiver and set top box to the following power setting:

Change Device Settings > Power Settings > I want to keep this device on when switching activities and only turn off if I press the off button.

Save those and then you want to create another activity.

Add Activity > Create “Custom” activity.

I named mine “Shut Up” because I think there was an issue with Alexa recognizing/confused using “Mute” and “Silence”. You might have better luck with another name, but that was my experience in trying those first.

Add your receiver as the only device for this activity. When it asks which input to select, “I do not set an input”. Save.

Select the Activity you just created, then choose “Customize this Activity”. Add a step, select your receiver as the entertainment device, then chose the command “mute” from the drop down list. Save.

Create another activity exactly like you just did above - I named this one "Sound” – and customize it the same way adding the mute command.

NOTE: If you already have your Harmony set up with SmartThings + Echo, you will need to unlink and delete all the Things, then re-add them back in.

Now I can say “Alexa, turn on Shut Up” and it will mute, then I can say “Alexa, turn on Sound” and it will unmute. The inputs and power remain on and correct without any changes. If I want to turn off the TV, I simply tell her to and everything shuts off. Hope this helps- I couldn’t find a solution anywhere for a simple mute command.

@JDRoberts

Are you still having trouble getting Netflix to work? I just set this up a couple of days ago. I have two activities for Netflix:

  • watch Netflix
  • exit Netflix

I tell Alexa to turn on Netflix and she says, sorry that activity is not responding. But, the activity works.

If I do it through askAlexa, there is not a problem at all.

Are you using askAlexa?

I don’t use AskAlexa. And at this point I don’t use the official harmony/ST integration as it just did not remain stable enough for me.

Instead, I use the IFTTT Channel method, where there’s no issue with the words. So I can say “Alexa, trigger Netflix” with no problems.

Since I am physically unable to use a button remote I need a method which works reliably. The one I’m using isn’t the most elegant, but it’s been super stable. :sunglasses:

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JD - how quick is it that way?

  • really appreciate your knowledgeable posts -

At my house there’s a pretty standard eight second lag for an IFTTT request. That’s acceptable to me, but I know it’s longer than a lot of people would like.

There are a couple of other method you can try if you want something faster.

I’m not sure how long the official ST/harmony integration takes now, hopefully someone else will answer.

The Yonomi/harmony integration is noticeably faster than IFTTT at the present time. There are quite a few people using that. It’s just a software app, so no additional cost. It doesn’t integrate with smart things, but it does with both echo and harmony.

If you’re willing to set up your own server, you can use askAlexa.

Personally, I’m waiting to see what the official echo/harmony integration does once it comes out of beta. ( it’s being developed by harmony itself.) I have hopes that this will be the fastest available once it’s released. But we’ll have to wait and see. :sunglasses:

Well, with the little bit I’ve got set up with mine, just four activities, it’s pretty fast.

No more than 3-4 second lag.

I’ve been using ifttt for echo/ harmony integration and can’t complain as the lag is only a few seconds and even though it works great I kept at getting the echo-smarthings-harmony to work also and finally my added activities and edits are showing up on all of smartthings and not just on the harmony smartapp. They’re also showing up on the native alexa app.