Tech Tuesday: Third Reality Smart Button Edition

Since Tuesday is the day that my tech savvy helper is here, we decided to spend some time setting up a couple of the things I got on Black Friday, including a three pack of the third reality smart buttons. (These are now back to the regular price of about $50 for three, which isn’t terrible, but the black Friday price was amazing.)

QuickTake: the good, the bad, and the ugly

1) the good

These did work out of the box with smartthings with a stock edge Driver which exposed press, double press, and Long hold for use in smartthings. And they also have battery reporting.

2) the bad

I made the mistake of thinking that these would work the same way as the third reality light switches and be able to be added to an Amazon echo with Zigbee radio pretty easily, and hopefully be used as a trigger for Alexa routines.

However, it turns out that for whatever reason they do not work the same way as the third reality switches. They have to be added to a Zigbee 3.0 hub other than the built-in echo ones. I have mine set up with a smartthings station. But doing it that way, they are not available as triggers for alexa routines. In fact, when connected to smartthings, they don’t show up in the Alexa app at all.

I have a Third reality zigbee hub, so later I’m going to try it with that and see if they show up as routine triggers or not. But then they won’t work with smartthings. So that’s annoying. :rage:

3) the ugly

3a) pairing. As I said, this didn’t require any custom code, which was good. But the pairing process was just super annoying. It kept saying that it hadn’t paired and telling us to do something else, but it turned out that it actually had. And it did the same thing on all three buttons. So I’m not sure what’s going on with that, but it would’ve been easy to give up and think it wasn’t going to work when it actually had worked.

3b) my goal for this button was to have a physical button on the wall which could turn the porch light on and off. The porch light only works with Alexa. Not HomeKit, not SmartThings. But the button only worked with smartthings. :thinking:

Eventually, I created a virtual lock using the official web interface to my Smart things account at

I then created Alexa routines so that when the virtual lock was unlocked, the porch light would turn on and when it was locked, the porch light will turn off.

But now I had to figure out how to create a Smartthings Routine to lock and unlock the virtual lock. For whatever reason, and I don’t know why, regular routines created in the app did not send the information to Alexa in a way that triggered the routines.

However, the smartthings app also offered me a way to set button controls on the device details page without going through a smartthings routine. And that did work to trigger the Alexa routine. Very mysterious and annoying to figure out. But at least it worked in the end.

This is ugly, because it means I don’t get any of the filter and condition features from a regular smartthings routine. It’s just manual button press, porch light comes on. For this particular use case that’s fine, all I wanted was a button on the wall anyway, but it’s definitely a missing feature.

We didn’t have time to try it with smart lighting to see if that worked any better, maybe another time.

All in all, it took about 90 minutes to get this set up the way I want, so since I have to pay for mark’s time, that more than doubled the cost of the device. Which is also ugly, but so it goes. :level_slider::bulb:


I use these only on ST so can’t speak to the Alexa woes, but I just checked and am using the CStup driver Zigbee Button CS which I’m wondering might alleviate some issues. I don’t remember installing that for these, think I did it for the ST buttons, but must have picked it up when I paired. I do remember them pairing super easy when I set them up.

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A friend was over today and wanted to play with the buttons so we tried a few more things.

Join was definitely better with the @csstup edge driver, but it was the same issue with regard to Alexa.

So then we tried them with the Third Reality zigbee hub. That offered exactly the Alexa routines experience I had hoped when I bought them: all three button actions are available as triggers. No virtual devices required.

There is one weird thing: each button action (press, double press, and long hold) appears in Alexa as a separate device, and that device is a motion sensor. But they work.

So I think I’m going to run the integration the other way around. Use the Third Reality buttons with their own zigbee hub, make them available in Alexa routines, and if I want them to control a smartthings connected device, use the Alexa routine to make that happen. That should meet my needs very well.

At this point, I would only join one to a SmartThings/Aeotec hub if I did not need to use it in an Alexa routine. When used with the @csstup edge driver they do work well within the SmartThings platform itself. That integration would also be local.

But if I want to use one in Alexa routines, I would join it to a third reality Zigbee hub ($29 at the time of this writing) and then I could use that same button to control SmartThings-connected devices as long as they are available in the action portion of an Alexa routine. I could even use virtual devices there and use them as a proxy for the button, but speaking for myself, I probably wouldn’t want to do that. But it’s definitely doable.

So… i’m happy with this purchase and with the devices. We’re already using a couple of them. And SmartThings integration is fine, it just works a little differently than I expected if you want to include the buttons as Alexa routine triggers.