HomeSeer currently provides two separate apps (“skills”) that can be used to integrate its smart home systems with Amazon’s Alexa cloud service. In this article, I’ll be focusing on tips that work with smart home skill that was created using the official Alexa API.
Note: Although the screen shots below feature HS4 software (currently in beta), these tips will also work with HS3.
Tip #1 - Simplify Voice Commands
HomeSeer’s HS4 software provides 4 different attribute that work together to describe every smart device in a home. They are:
- Floor (e.g. “First Floor”)
- Room (e.g. “Bathroom”)
- Device (e.g. “Overhead Light”)
- Feature (e.g. “Switch”)
This amount of detail is really helpful for identifying devices. However, HS4 joins (concatenates) these attributes and that can result in some very ‘wordy’ Alexa commands, such as…
“Alexa, turn on the first floor bathroom overhead light switch”
To simplify these commands, shorter replacement names may be entered into the Voice Command field on the HS4 device settings page. Once entered, these replacement names will be used by Alexa instead of the longer concatenated name. In the example below Bathroom Light will replace First Floor Bathroom Overhead Light Switch.
This results in a much simpler and more manageable command:
“Alexa, turn on the bathroom light”
If you’ve never used this little trick before, give it a try. You might not think it’s a big deal, but your spouse and kids will thank you!
Note: You will need to log into your Alexa account and remove & re-discover the devices you’ve assigned a voice command to. Alternately, you might find it simpler to just remove and discover all devices.
Tip #2 - Launch Events with Alexa
The standard Alexa smart home API provides a number of commands that can be used to control smart home products. However, no commands are provided to launch 3rd party hub-related automations (including HomeSeer events). In this tip, I’ll highlight a work-around that will overcome this limitation and allow you to launch HomeSeer events with Alexa.
How it Works:
Let’s say you have a HomeSeer event named Leaving Home that you’d like to launch with Alexa. Here’s what to do to make that happen.
- Create a HomeSeer virtual device and name it Leaving Home (to keep things simple). By default, you’ll be able to control this device directly with Alexa. This will become your trigger device.
- Create a new HomeSeer event and name it Link Leaving Home Device to Leaving Home Event.
- Configure this new event to launch the original Leaving Home event when the virtual device is set to ON.
This newly configured event should look like this:
Now, all you’ll need to do is utter this Alexa command:
“Alexa, turn on leaving home”
As soon as you say this, Alexa will tun ON the Leaving Home virtual device. That will launch the newly created event which will then launch the original Leaving Home event. 👍
You can further refine your spoken commands by combing Alexa routines with this tip. For example, you can create a Leaving Home routine that will turn on the virtual device above with a more natural spoken phrase such as…
“Alexa, I’m leaving home now”
Routines must be created using the Alexa mobile app. That feature does not appear in the browser-based app.