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How to control your smart home with voice - Part 2: Device and room control example

September 23, 2017

In this post, we will look at a couple of suggestions how to set up an intuitive voice interface.

 

1. Set easy to remember room and zone names

Until all assistants support using short (or local) device names and until you have placed speakers in each and every room in your house, commands still need to specify the room name of the device. Therefore, it’s really important to use simple room names which you would normally use when talking with your family or friends.

 

Here is a couple of examples to get help you get started: Bathroom, Bedroom, Den, Dining room, Family room, Garage, Hallway, Kitchen, Living room, Lounge, Master bedroom, Studio, Office Library, Study, Music room, Spare room, Guest room, Kids room, Wellness, Toilet, Loo, Utility, Cloakroom, Games room, Loft, Porch, Outside, Terrace, Patio, Garden, Landing.

 

NOTE: We had some mixed results with the name ‘Fitness’ because it was sometimes recognised as Nest. Through time the voice recognition improved and we didn’t encounter the same issue again.

 

 

 

2.) Name devices consistently across rooms

It helps if the same device types are named consistently across all rooms so you do not need to think too much how you named the devices in a particular room.

 

Here is a compilation of names/examples to help you get started

Lights: light, main light, side light, ambient light, spot light.

“Alexa, turn Kitchen ambient light on”

 

NOTE: If you plan to use Groups with Alexa or Rooms with Google Assistant it’s advisable not to use “light” but at least “main light”. Both speakers quite often confuse “Hey Google, turn off kitchen light” with “Hey Google, turn off kitchen lights” - lights in plural, meaning turn all lights in the kitchen off.

 

Thermostats: thermostat or temperature.

“Alexa, set living room temperature to 22 degrees”

 

Blinds: blinds, shades or shutters.

“Alexa, turn on living room shutters”

“Alexa, living room shutters up/down”

 

Switches: Bedroom ventilation, parking gate

“Alexa, turn bedroom ventilation on”

“Alexa, parking gate up”

 

Scenes: Cinema, wellness, cooking mode, dinner time

“Alexa, turn Cinema on”

“Alexa, set cooking mode on”

 

3.) Turning the whole room on and off

It is quite useful to control the whole room with a single command.

The off command can turn all lights and appliances off, turn music off, close the shutters to the predefined state and put the whole room in a hibernation mode. The same scene can also be used when invoking the Away command when leaving home.

The on command can for example turn all lights to full brightness and open the shutters.

 

To be able to do this, first create two scenes to turn the whole room on and off. You can create the two scenes through Voxior or on your smart home server. Next, bind both scenes to a virtual switch. Again, this could be done on the smart home server with some programming or through an easy to use Voxior interface.

 

Examples:

“Alexa, turn kitchen on”

“Alexa, turn living area off”

 

Please keep in mind that using a Group feature in Alexa interface invokes separate commands for each device in the group which might overwhelm your home server. Therefore, it is advised to create the scene either on the bus, your smart home server or through Voxior.

 

NOTE: If you plan to use Groups with Alexa or Rooms with Google Assistant it’s advisable to name these scenes differently. Both assistants could understand this as a command which would turn all the devices in the room to ON or OFF - these devices could include scenes or shutters and the result of this command might be surprising. :)

 

4.) Arrive and leave home commands

Another common scene is the welcome home and away combo. The away scene usually puts the house into hibernation, turns all lights off, music off and increases the ventilation. It can also turn the Roomba on while you are away.

When you get back home, you normally use the welcome home scene that opens the blinds in the living area, decreases the ventilation and turns some of the light on.

Turning the music on with voice assistants has become so simple that it does not make sense anymore to go through the hassle of programming automatic welcome music.

 

The trick here is to name these scenes so that they sound natural.

With Alexa you can try these:

Welcome: “Alexa, turn home on”, “Alexa, set welcome mode on”

Away: “Alexa, turn security on”

Since both “security” and “home” device utilise the same scenes, only in inverted form, you can use Voxior virtual switch to define both devices.

 

Both Amazon and Google followed Apple’s model and added Routines or Shortcuts respectively. Scenes can be invoked with a custom command  like:

“Hey Siri, I am home”

“Hey Google, I am taking off”

 

 

 

5.) Good morning and good night

This is usually the first thing you say when you wake up and last command to Echo before going to bed.

Good morning scene usually opens the shades a little bit, turns the light slightly on, configures the heating just right and turns the radio on. Good night turns the whole house off except for the lights in the master bedroom and bathroom, changes the heating, closes the shades and turns the music off.


 

 

 

These invocations can be defined like

“Hey Siri, good night”

“Hey Google, good morning”

“Alexa, off to bed”

 

Alternatively you could use the ‘mode’ for natural flow of commands like:

Good night: “Hey Google, activate night mode”

Good morning: “Hey Google, activate morning mode ”Since both “morning mode” and “night mode” device utilise the same scenes, only in inverted form, you can use Voxior virtual switch to define both devices.

 

NOTE: Alexa still does not support the activate keyword. You would then need to say “Alexa, turn night mode on”

 

 

6.) Shutter control

Since all smart home assistants have limited options of controlling the shutters or blinds we advise to include blinds into scenes or into modes:

 

“Hey Google, activate evening mode” - close the shades to 80%.

“Hey Google, good morning” - open the shades slightly in the bedrooms and fully open shades in the living area.

“Hey Google, we’re off” - among other things set the shades to the away configuration.

“Hey Google, we’re back” - open the living area shades fully.

 

 

Get in touch with us on info[at]voxior.com.

 

P.s.: Want to know more? Check out other posts from our How-to series:

 

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