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Making your Smart Home Smarter with the Amazon Echo

Making your Smart Home Smarter with the Amazon Echo

During this past holiday season, the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot became almost sold out everywhere. In this post, we wanted to put some information together for new users of the Amazon Echo, and also inform users of what smart home systems and brands work with the device.


Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo comes in at 9.25 inches tall and a diameter of 3.25 inches and weighs approximately 1.7 lbs. This also includes a 6′ ft power cable and quick start guide. It also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and hears you from across the room with seven microphones for far-field hands-free voice control, even in noisy environments or while playing music. With a built-in 2.5″ woofer and 2″ tweeter, the Echo provides 360 degrees of sound. It is largest of the (3) voice assistants that are a part of the Amazon family. Like the Echo Dot, the Amazon Echo comes in two colors- black and white.

The Echo Dot is much smaller than the Echo, but still, has a built-in speaker and all the capabilities of the larger Echo. Amazon developed these smaller versions of the Echo, to be distributed throughout a home and work as a network, using ESP or (Echo Spatial Perception) to respond with device closest to you.

What are the best ways to use your Amazon Echo?

We decided to put a list together of our favorite uses for the Amazon Echo- this is what we came up with:

• Setting Alarms and Timers – simply tell Alexa to set a timer or an alarm 

• Playing music from Spotify and Pandora- there is also TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Audible, Prime Music, and Amazon Music – you can also play music through iTunes on your Echo via a Bluetooth connection from your phone or computer.

• Get the weather for anywhere

• Flash briefing- Alexa will tell you news from your local area, and usually provides content via NPR news. You can add things and manipulate what is in your Flash Briefing by teaching your Echo new skills through the Alexa app on your phone. Simply go to Skills in the main menu.

• Get the time- it may be simple, but it can be good to know sometimes. 

• Solve conversions and math problems quickly

• Learning other skills via IFTTT (we will come back to this shortly)

• Check and add things to your calendar (this can be done through IFTTT)

• Make shopping lists and to-do lists – simply say “Alexa, add bananas to my shopping list.” or “Alexa, add schedule appointment with Next on my to-do list.”

• Our favorite use of the Amazon Echo is connecting Smart Devices and systems of course. From here we will go in to more detail about that:

Amazon Echo 2016
Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo Dot Functions

Using Control4, Crestron, or Lutron with Amazon Echo and Echo Dot.

Yes, with the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, you can use all three of the big players in home automation. What is so great about having these systems work with your Echo? We know that is a silly question. If you have Lutron lighting or shading- you can tell Alexa to turn on lights in certain rooms, and open or close shades without having to push any buttons.

With Control4, you can say turn on TV, turn on your pool pump, control HVAC, display security feed on your living room TV, turn off all the lights in the house, or even set up scenes, for example, a party mode… The list could go on forever. With Crestron, the same rules and possibilities can apply. If you are ready to take the next step towards making your home smarter, we recommend you talk with an expert. The DIY devices are out there and can be a good start for integrating and making your home smarter- But if you’re looking to have a smart home much like Mark Zuckerburg’s “Jarvis”- Next Electronic Systems is confident in helping you make it happen (seriously, we’d love to install and integrate a T-Shirt cannon) 

IFTTT is short for “If This Then That”  and is a platform that allows third-party developers to easily integrate services and automate tasks between various apps. 

Using IFTTT you can control many of these premium smart-home brands. If you do not have an account with IFTTT yet, but already own the Amazon Echo, we recommend you sign up and explore more of the possibilities. There are other great features with IFTTT available that do not involve the Amazon Echo, but we think they are worth checking out. 

Next Electronic Systems is an Audio-Visual Integrator that specializes in home automation in the Austin, Texas area. If you have the desire to revamp the technology throughout you home, give Next a call – 512-263-9700

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