A bold statement from the outset…
You are going to love this - I promise.
I am going to show you how you can control your INSTEON enabled home with your voice, using nothing more than your trusty Android phone or tablet - well that’s not completely true, there is a little more involved – but not much...
What you will need:
- The awesome INSTEON Hub
- Some INSTEON Responders so we can control some lights or appliances
- An Android powered device (sorry Apple – but you made it this way)
- The INSTEON for Hub app (free from the Google Play store)
- A little plugin app called AutoVoice, which works with....
- The truly amazing app called Tasker - let’s start with that…
When I first read about Tasker and what it could do, I looked at my iPhone and with sadness in my eyes, said (with as much sincerity as I could muster); “It’s OK, I still love you. You fulfill me in so many other ways”.
I was lying (and perhaps being a little melodramatic). Tasker is actually the main reason I switched from being a devoted iOS fanboy to Android - seriously. You see, Tasker is only available for Android.
"So what?" you say, "what’s so special about Tasker?"
Oh you poor, poor soul. That’s like asking what is so special about the Mona Lisa (or donuts). If you have not heard of or seen what Tasker can do, take a look at these videos. I will see you back in a few minutes after you have re-attached your jaw and cleaned up the drool puddle.
If you are emotionally attached to your iPhone - won't give it up... no way, no how - I suggest popping out and picking up a cheap Android tablet (make sure it has a microphone), then you will be able to enjoy all of the deliciousness below.
If you are familiar with Tasker, great – let’s get started on an awesome recipe that is going to deliver on what I promised at the beginning of this post.
The INSTEON side of things
I will assume you have your INSTEON Hub and you are already enjoying your INSTEON enabled home. If not – get cracking – smarthome.com.au will have your new INSTEON Starter Kit on its way to you pronto.
Let’s open the INSTEON for Hub app on your favourite Android device (mine is a Nexus 5, just saying is all). There are a few important bits of information we need from the app to get this all working, here’s how we get it…
The Android, iOS and Windows INSTEON for Hub apps have some slight layout and functionality differences (why can’t we all just get along?).
Anyhow, if your platform does not match the instructions below (Android) then a quick search on Google will get you everything you need for the equivalent procedures for your platform flavour of choice.
1. Open the INSTEON for Hub app.
2. Select the Gear icon and then press Edit Settings.
3. Now press on House to open the Hub Settings.
4. Scroll down until you see the Local IP address. Make a note of it along with the Port number.
5. Scroll down further and make a note of the Hub Username.
6. Password - If you don’t know the password, simply change it and make a note of the new one.
Great. One more thing we need to do. Create an INSTEON scene so Tasker has something to trigger when you bark instructions at it.
How to create an INSTEON scene...
1. Make sure the INSTEON for Hub app is still open, if not - you were too quick, open it again.
2. Select the Gear icon and then press Edit Settings.
3. Now press on Scenes to open the Scenes Settings.
4. Select the + icon in the top right to add a new Scene.
5. Create a Scene – call it anything you like, add some INSTEON devices and adjust the settings you would like to happen when you command it.
6. Make a note of the INSTEON Group Number. This will be important, write it down, or don’t. Finish up and save your Scene.
That’s all we need from the INSTEON app. Now on to…
The Tasker side of things
If you haven’t already done so, download Tasker from the Google Play store. You will also need to buy another app AutoVoice - it's a little Tasker plugin. Luckily both of these apps are dirt-cheap (cliché time… “Less than the price of a cup of coffee”).
If you are familiar with Tasker, my apologies in advance. The instructions below are going to take things step-by-step – slowly – so newcomers are able to share in our Tasker joy. Just skim the parts you already know and read the parts you don’t.
1. Open Tasker
2. In the Profiles tab, click on the + icon to add a new Profile.
3. Select State.
4. Now select Plugin.
5. Assuming you installed the AutoVoice plug-in correctly, you should be able to select AutoVoice Recognized.
6. Select the Pencil icon to edit the settings.
7. Tick the Event Behavior checkbox.
8. Select Command Filter.
9. Type in the words you want Tasker to recognise when you talk to it, make this anything you like.
10. This part is optional, check Contains ALL if you would like Tasker to recognise the phrase in any order you say it. (Office lamp on, Lamp office on, etc).
11. Press the Tick icon to save the settings.
12. Tap the Back icon to return to the Profile screen.
Great. Now we have created the Tasker profile for the voice command “Office lamp on” (or whatever you choose as your spoken trigger). We now need to assign a Task – this will tell Tasker what you want to do when your voice command is received.
1. Click on New Task +.
2. Tasker says this step is optional. It’s not for me – give your Task a name that describes the voice action – “Office Lamp” or whatever and press the Tick icon.
3. Now select the + icon to add some actions we want Tasker to perform.
4. Select Net
5. Now select HTTP Post
6. In the Server:Port field, well that requires a little explanation…
We are going to enter the INSTEON Group Number from the scene we created earlier in the INSTEON app, but it needs to be formatted correctly so that the INSTEON Hub understands what you want it to do.
Here is what a typical INSTEON HTTP command may look like:
In my home, this command will turn on one of my office scenes.
“Great” I hear you say, “How does that help me on my quest for home automation nirvana”?
It doesn’t, but this does…INSTEON HTTP Command Generator
Open the link above, fill in the information we collected from the INSTEON for Hub app earlier, copy the link that is automatically generated and I will see you back here in a few minutes (I just had to make this easy for you, otherwise it would have seriously impacted the bold statement I made at the beginning of this post).
Got what you needed? Let’s continue…
1. Enter the INSTEON HTTP command you just created into the Server:Port field.
2. Select the back icon next to Action Edit at the top of the screen.
3. If you would like to hear a spoken response HAL style, continue to the next step, otherwise go to step 9.
4. Select the + icon at the bottom of the screen.
5. Select the Alert icon
6. Now select the Say icon.
7. Enter the Text you would like Tasker to say.
8. Select the Back icon next to Action Edit in the top left corner.
9. Now you can test that you have done everything right, select the Play icon in the bottom left corner of the screen to test your task.
If all has gone well, your INSTEON scene should have responded. Be sure to press the Back icon next to Task Edit in the top-left corner of the screen and you are done.
“I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.”
If all did not go well, back to the drawing board, follow the instructions above again. If you are sure you have completed this correctly, post a comment below screaming for help, someone may hear you (even possibly me, but I doubt it).
Getting Android to listen for our command
There are lots of ways to do this, including integrating AutoVoice into Google Now – although to get this done right it involves “rooting” your Android device (people in some countries are going to find that really funny – or just rude). You can also set AutoVoice to be “always” listening for that true 2001: Space Odyssey touch. For the moment…
We will do it the simple way, swipe up from the bottom of your screen (as you normally would to activate the Google voice command interface), you will be presented with a few options on which program you would like to use to “listen” – select AutoVoice, click just once or always and say the command you created above.
I hope you have enjoyed this post, as always leave a comment if you found it useful (my ego likes that sort of thing).
All the best,