Control your Vera Z-Wave smart home with your voice.
There is no denying that voice control for your smart home is the future – it makes so much sense. No need to pull out your smart phone to turn on lights – it is far easier to simply ask your smart home to turn on the lights for you… and so much more!
The future has arrived… in what is commonly being termed as “voice assistants”. The first - and certainly the most popular of these new voice assistants is Amazon Alexa. Google and others are also trying hard to catch up… but for now, the Amazon Echo is a long way in front. It's still early days, and Alexa is far from coming anywhere near "Jarvis" from Iron Man... but it's a great start!
Now for some bad news... the Amazon Echo range of products - with Alexa voice assistant built in - are not officially available in Australia yet... Typical bloody Yanks! They often forget there are other countries in the World outside of America! < Just joking Trump... please don't nuke us!
The good news... Aussies being the resourceful lot we are... we have found ways to get our hands on Amazon Echo here in Australia - although Amazon make it very difficult... so we made it easy - you can get your shiny new Amazon Echo Dot here :)
Now for the really awesome part. If you already own a Vera Z-Wave Controller, you can connect it to Amazon Alexa and control your smart home with nothing more than your voice - using the Amazon Echo. If you don't own one... you can get it here (how fortuitous, I know!).
Now that you have all of the hardware sorted, let's get cracking...
Setup Amazon Echo for Australia and New Zealand.
No need to reinvent the wheel… You can find excellent and very detailed information on how to setup your Amazon Echo for Australia and New Zealand by following this guide.
Note: In the time since the instructions contained in the link above were written, it would appear that Amazon have now changed how address authentication is handled. Therefore, the only thing we can change is the “timeZoneId” – which is OK, as this setting will allow your Amazon Echo to tell the correct time for your location. You will not be able to update the address settings.
There are two more important settings we should change. Since the good ole’ US of A still clings to the Imperial System for measurements (they know the Metric System is better, but you know… Americans), we should tell Alexa we would rather use the far more logical Metric System. Simply change the two settings above in your Alexa account.
Ok, we should now have Amazon Echo on a Temporary Working Visa for Australia and New Zealand. I say temporary because I have no doubt that sometime throughout 2017, Alexa will become a permanent resident and we will not have to jump through these hoops… but for now, this is the only way to get Amazon Echo to talk our lingo.
Now on to the really cool part…
Linking your Vera to Amazon Echo.
For the moment, integrating the Vera Z-Wave Controller with Amazon Echo is in Beta Testing (in other words, it has not been officially launched).
However, I have the inside word on how you can join the Beta program... before the offical release (when it is officially released, you can ignore the instructions below, it should be far easier). Before we join the Beta program and link Vera with Amazon Echo, I would like to share some tips on how you can get your Vera ready for Alexa...
When naming your devices within Vera, it is important to remember that we cannot have devices with the same name (even if they are located in different rooms). As an example, let’s say we have a lounge room light and a bedroom light (each located within their respective rooms within Vera) – the logical name for each these would be “light” – this would mean we could ask Alexa to “Turn on the bedroom light” or “Turn on the lounge light”. Not possible. We need to give them different names. It means we have to get a bit creative when naming devices.
To get around this issue, I named my lounge light “Pendant” – so I ask Amazon Echo… “Alexa, Turn on the lounge pendant”. I kept the bedroom light named “light”… “Alexa, turn on the bedroom light”. Also, it is important to make sure you give your Vera Z-Wave devices names that are easy to pronounce, this will make it easier for Alexa to understand your commands.
Now that’s out of the way, let me show you how we can join the Beta program. Follow the instructions in the link below…
Some final thoughts…
That's all there is to it. Now you can easily control your smart home with your voice.
"Alexa, Tea. Earl grey. Hot."
As always, please leave a comment below if you run into any issues or just want to say hi – we are always happy to hear from you. If you have found any errors with the instructions in this blog, let me know.
I hope you enjoy your new smart home voice assistant :)
All the best,