Get trigger happy with Amazon’s colourful smart home buttons
Amazon launched its Echo Buttons a couple of years back, as a way to play games like Trivial Pursuit Tap. This made them a fun, b ut ultimately novelty device.
All of that changed last year when Amazon enab led the Echo Buttons to trigger Alexa routines, transforming them into dedicated smart home buttons.
Echo B uttons are sold in packs of two and each runs on two (included) AAA b atteries. These aren’t like other Echo devices that must b e plugged in at all times; the idea is that these can b e placed anywhere.
And sure, this might seem a tad b ackwards in any voice-controlled smart home, b ut the Echo B uttons can b e handy in those moments where you don’t want to wake up the rest of the house b y yelling at Alexa. Also, let’s b e honest, sometimes it’s just easier to press a button, right?
Now that Echo B uttons can power routines, we’ve put together a guide for getting them set up, as well as dishing out some ideas to try with your new pressy toy.
How to set up Echo Buttons with Alexa
This part couldn’t b e simpler. First, make sure you’ve stuck the b atteries into your Echo B utton (you’ll know if it has power b y pressing it and seeing it b riefly light up b lue).
Then tell your Echo speaker, “Alexa, set up my Echo B utton”. Alexa will ask you to hold the b utton down until the light turns to orange. At this point, Alexa should recognise the button and you’ll b e away. Repeat for more b uttons.
How to use Echo Buttons to trigger routines
Ok, now for the fun part. For this bit you’ll need to go into the Alexa app.
1) Tap the hamb urger menu on the homescreen (that’s the three lines at the top left)
2) Hit Routines.
3) Tap Create Routine.
4) Select the top section that says When this happens.
5) On the next screen, tap Echo B utton.
6) Push the b utton you wish to pair for the routine. After a b rief moment it should light up green and the app should recognise the selected b utton. Tap Add. Don’t worry ab out the jargon name it gives it, you can change this later.
Your b utton is officially triggering a routine, b ut right now that routine doesn’t do anything. So we need to add some actions. You should have b een thrown b ack to the New Routine page so go ahead and tap Add action.
There’s a lot to choose from here. You can have Alexa make announcements, play music, read the news, control smart home devices and more. Rememb er you can add multiple actions to a single routine. For example, we made a new morning routine that reads the news, weather forecast and tells us what’s in our calendar. It also turns on our b edroom lights.
Have a play around. Rememb er too that you can trigger smart home scenes within routines. To find those, simply tap on Smart Home in the actions menu and then on Control scene.
WARNING -WARNING – WARNING
In late April 2020, Samsung released a new smartthings skill for Alexa. If you are using the previous skill and you disable it, you will not be able to go back to it. Instead, when you re-enable the skill, you will get the new one. And a new one has some bugs. See the community discussion
As of November 2018, you can now use smartthings to automate Echo events without having to speak to an echo device. So you can use this to integrate with devices that echo can control but that are not available to smartthings and do not have an IFTTT channel. You can also use this to have echo speaker specific phrases when certain events happened, like the door opening or the laundry finishing.
- 1 To Control Devices
- 2 Code for a Virtual Device which will Show Up as Both a Contact Sensor and a Switch
- 3 To Make Echo Speak a Custom Phrase or Play a Standard Sound Effect
- 4 Activating Your Virtual Device
- 5 Blog article with step by step screenshots for the new V3 app
- 6 Official Amazon Help Page for Echo Routines
- 7 Triggering an Echo Routine with an Echo Button
To Control Devices
Anything which can be turned on/off in an echo routine (not a smartthings routine) Can now be controlled from smartthings.
That’s because an echo routine can now be initiated by a contact sensor opening or closing.
And smartthings allows you to create a virtual contact sensor which looks just like a real contact sensor to Alexa.
Even better, smartthings allows you to create a virtual device which looks like both a contact sensor and a switch to both smartthings and echo. When you turn the switch on, it makes the contact sensor look like it is open. When you turn the switch off, it makes the contact sensor look like it is closed.
So now you can turn that virtual switch on and off with any smartthings automation, including the official smart lights feature, that will make the virtual contact sensor look like it is open or closed, and that can trigger an echo routine.
SmartThings control of anything which can be turned on/off in an echo routine. 😎 which now includes an Xbox.
Code for a Virtual Device which will Show Up as Both a Contact Sensor and a Switch
The following post includes the code for a virtual contact sensor which is also a switch, so you can use that one. forum post including the code for a virtual sensor/switch
To Make Echo Speak a Custom Phrase or Play a Standard Sound Effect
You can use the same virtual device method to trigger an echo routine that will make echo speak a custom phrase. If you only need it to happen on one device, choose the “ Alexa says” action under the echo routine when you add a new routine. But if you want it to happen on multiple devices, choose the “messaging“ action under the echo routine when you add a new routine, and then choose the “announcement“ option. You will then be able to choose specific echo devices or all echo devices to speak the announcement that you are going to trigger.
If you want a standard sound effect like a doorbell chime or dog barking, choose “Sounds” for the action.
Activating Your Virtual Device
To activate your virtual device so Alexa can use it, do the following steps:
1) create virtual device in the IDE
2) use the smartthings app to approve Echo access to that device if you don’t have “all devices” approved.
3) use the Alexa app to disable the smartthings skill.
4) log out of the Alexa app.
5) log back into the Alexa app.
6) re-enable the SmartThings skill.
7) ask Alexa to discover new devices
Your virtual device should now be available to trigger an echo routine.
Blog article with step by step screenshots for the new V3 app
If you are using the new V3 smartthings app and you would like to see examples with screenshots, check the following blog article.
Official Amazon Help Page for Echo Routines
Triggering an Echo Routine with an Echo Button
We should also mention that as of November 10, 2018, Amazon echo buttons (two for $20, about the size of a deck of cards) can also trigger an echo routine. So you can press the button and have the echo routine turn on a virtual switch which then triggers pretty much anything you want in SmartThings. The button won’t be visible to smartthings, but it’s a nice alternative means of control if you already have an echo in that room.
- In this article…
- 1. Create a new routine
- 2. Create the start action
- 3. Choose your smart home actions
- 4. Choose other actions
- 5. Select the responding device
- 6. Create and run your routine
One of the best updates to have been introduced to the Echo family of devices is Alexa Routines, which enable you to control multiple devices and perform multiple actions via a single phrase, such as “Alexa, goodbye”. No longer do you have to reel off a long list of instructions; through simple automation, you can control devices faster.
Through a more recent update, Amazon now lets you use routines to control your smart home automatically – say, for turning off all of your lights if no motion is detected. Although this facility is relatively limited right now, it demonstrates the direction in which Amazon is heading with its smart home system, with the company focused on improving the level of control and automation.
Whether you want to turn off everything as you leave your home, or set up your home perfectly for a movie night, we’ll show you how to build your own routines. Since Alexa works in the cloud, these instructions apply for all devices, including the Echo, Echo Spot, Echo Show and Echo Dot.
Before you start, you’ll need to have added any smart home devices that you want to control to your Amazon Alexa account.
1. Create a new routine
Launch the Amazon Alexa app on your phone, tap the hamburger and select Routines. You’ll see that there’s a pre-made “Alexa, start my day” routine in there; we’ll skip this for now, so tap the “+” icon to create a new routine. Routines are quite simple, requiring a trigger (When this happens) and action (Add action).
2. Create the start action
Amazon has increased the number of ways that you can start a routine. We’ll take you through all of the options to help you make the right decision. First, and easiest, is the Voice option. Select this and then type in the phrase that you wish to use to trigger your routine – for example, “Alexa, goodnight”. Tap Next when you’re done.
Now you can choose to trigger a routine on a schedule automatically. You can set a time and, if you want the routine to run regularly, the Repeat schedule – this allows you to choose the days on which you want the routine to run. This is a handy option if, for example, you want to turn on an outside light at the same time every day, although it’s a shame that there’s no option to set times, such as sunset and sunrise.
Next, you can choose to trigger a routine based on the actions of a device. There are few devices supported at the moment, but my SmartThings window/door sensor and motion sensors were listed as options. With the window/door sensor, you can pick to run the routine if it’s open or closed. With a motion sensor, you can select to activate a routine when motion is detected or when no motion is detected. For the latter, you can choose how long after there’s no motion you want to wait. For example, you could turn off lights in a room only after there’s no motion for 15 minutes.
Finally, if you bought Amazon Echo Buttons, you can use these to trigger a routine. Select the Echo Button option then select the button you want to use.
3. Choose your smart home actions
Routines can do far more than simply control smart devices, but this is where we’ll start. Tap Add action, then choose Smart Home. You can now choose to Control device, Control group or Control scene. Scenes are discovered by Alexa for certain products, such as a specific Philips Hue lighting mode. You can create Amazon Alexa smart home groups to make control easier. The downside of using Groups is that you only get simple on/off controls, rather than the more granular controls that selecting individual devices gives you.
Select Control device, and you’ll see a list of your smart home devices. The actions available differ by the device. For example, with a smart thermostat you can control the temperature, and a smart light bulb lets you set brightness, toggle on or off, or set the colour temperature or brightness. If your device has special modes then these might show up, too. For example, with the Honeywell Evohome smart heating system, you can trigger modes such as Away, which sets every zone to 15ºC by default.
Select the option you want for the device you’ve selected and tap Next, and then tap Add. Repeat this step for any other smart home devices you want to control.
4. Choose other actions
As well as controlling smart home devices, routines can also do other things: Alexa Says lets you choose what Alexa will say when the routine runs; Calendar lets you get a list of upcoming appointments; Device Settings lets you stop audio, adjust volume or toggle Do Not Disturb on Echo devices; Messaging lets you send an announcement; Music lets you play a specific track, artist or playlist; News gives you the headlines; Traffic provides an update of your route between your preset home and destination addresses; and Weather gives you an update on the weather in your location.
Wait is the final command and lets you add a pause between actions. For example, you could get a traffic and weather update, wait five minutes to give you time to get out of the door, and then turn off all of the lights.
5. Select the responding device
If you choose any option that requires Alexa to speak, such as a weather report, you can use the From option to pick which device will be used for the audio. You can force Alexa to speak from a set Echo, but the default option of “The device you speak to” is probably best, so Alexa will respond from whichever Echo you activated.
6. Create and run your routine
Tap the Create button and your routine will be created. As the message says, it can take up to one minute for routines to be created and available. If you picked a Schedule, Device, or Echo Button trigger, your routine will be activated automatically. Otherwise, you can just say your phrase, such as “Alexa, goodnight.”
Homekit is a home system made by Apple. This home system allows you to control all your compatible smart objects in one place, and you only need one iOS device to run it.
Can Alexa control Homekit devices? Homekit and Alexa are both smart home hubs, so one cannot directly control the other; however, the devices are a different story. As long as the device attached to your Homekit Hub is compatible with Alexa as well, the two will work seamlessly together.
While you can’t control Homekit with Alexa, controlling the devices themselves is nearly the same thing. The setup is just as easy as non-apple products, and before you know it, you can use voice control through Alexa.
Alexa and Homekit
You will need both Apple and Alexa products to control your Homekit devices through Alexa. Many people use Alexa for their voice commands, and their iPhone or iPad for automation, because Alexa is predominantly a voice-activated system. The bonus to this is that if one system is down, you can just use the other.
Alexa uses Skills to control its devices. So to make your Alexa work with your Homekit devices, you will need to locate the devices in skills and download them. There are a vast amount of Skills available, so finding your Homekit device shouldn’t be too difficult.
Once you find your device, simply hit enable, and you should be able to voice activate it whenever you want!
Here is the Amazon Skills page to check your device compatibility.
Being able to connect your devices to Alexa will not mean anything if the devices you own are not compatible with Homekit.
Here is a list of Homekit compatible devices.
Alexa on Your iPhone
Despite Amazon and Apple being rivals, you can now download the Alexa Amazon app on your iPhone. This is essential in linking your Alexa technologies, with your Apple technologies; whether you are linking your Homekit devices, Apple Music, Apple TV, etc. You will generally need the Amazon Alexa app to connect anything.
Here is how you set up Alexa on your iPhone:
- Locate the Appstore on your phone.
- Hit the Search bar at the bottom of the screen.
- When the keypad pops up, type in Alexa, and hit search.
- Hit the Get button.
- If you’ve had the app before but deleted it, the icon will look like a cloud with an arrow pointing downward instead.
- When it finishes downloading, hit Open, and it will launch the app.
Alexa and Apple TV
Unfortunately, Alexa is unable to control your Apple TV directly, but with a smart home hub, it is easily done. Luckily for us, most people own some sort of smart home hub.
If you have something like an Echo, you can connect the two just like you would connect any Bluetooth device:
- Tell Alexa to turn on Bluetooth.
- Go to your Apple TV.
- Find your settings.
- Go to Bluetooth.
- Connect to Alexa.
Once you’ve completed those five simple steps you can use your Echo to turn the television on and off, play or pause your movies, and turn the volume up and down. That is as far as Alexa can take you as far as controls.
Alexa and Apple Music
Amazon and Apple have been long time competitors, and they haven’t always played nice in the past. Being able to use Apple Music on your Amazon Echo device is a relatively new development.
Now you can finally have your Apple subscription in your Alexa app, so you can play your Apple music, on your Echo devices. This is only available in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
What You Will Need
Here is a list of the things you will need, and the things you will need to do to set up Apple on your Alexa device.
- Apple Music subscription
- An Amazon Device
- Amazon Echo
- Amazon Fire TV
- Alexa enabled speaker
- Update your Amazon Alexa app
Here are the steps you will need to set up Apple Music on Alexa:
- Find the Amazon Alexa app on your phone.
- There will be a menu button in the upper-left-hand corner.
- Tap Settings.
- Find Alexa Preferences, and tap Music.
- Hit Link New Service.
- Hit Apple Music.
- Hit Enable To Use.
- Sign in with your Apple ID.
That is all you need to do to set up Apple Music with Alexa! You can also go to the Skills store for Alexa, and enable the Apple Music Skill.
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The Amazon Fire Tablet just got an upgrade that may revolutionise the way you use your Smart Home if you only use Alexa-compatible smart home gadgets.
What does the Device Dashboard work on?
On 27th October, Amazon announced that their new Device Dashboard which is an Amazon Fire Tablet exclusive is rolling out across the following devices:
- 2018 Fire HD 8
- 2019 Fire 7
- 2019 Fire HD 10
- 2020 Fire HD 8
If you have an Amazon-based Smart Home, the Amazon Fire Tablets Device Dashboard may be a perfect solution for you. You can wall mount your Fire Tablet, at their extremely cheap price, you’d be insane not to.
Whilst Amazon has been pushing its voice control devices with the new Echo Dot (4th Generation) and Echo Show 10, they know that not everyone wants to control everything by phone or pull out their Smart Phone.
The Device Dashboard may seem like a backwards step in their vision, but really it just opens a whole new world of Smart Home Control.
You can find the new Smart Home Device Dashboard in the top left of your Fire Tablets navigation bar.
A convenient way to control smart home products that work with Alexa, such as smart lights, cameras, thermostats, switches, and plugs
Due to the new Smart Home Dashboard being an in-built feature, you’ll find that it doesn’t close out of any apps you currently have open and it can be accessed from any screen.
How do I access the Fire Tablet Device Dashboard?
The process is very simple, from the top left of your Amazon Fire Tablet, you want to select the new Smart Home Button.
If you’re not able to see the new Device Dashboard you may be running a software version that is too old and you should update your Fire Tablet.
I did have an issue with my tablet not allowing me to turn it on, this was due to having added Google Play to my Tablet, this isn’t great, but if all you’re going to use it for is a Wall Controller, it’s fantastic.
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has close to a decade of experience covering consumer technology and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews. Read more.
Smart home technology has improved at an incredible pace. It’s now easy for anyone to get into it without spending a ton of money. Controlling all of those devices, however, still takes work. We’ll help you make it easier.
There was a time when you needed a physical smart home hub to bring all of your devices into a single interface. Thanks to Apple, Amazon, and Google, that’s no longer the case. You don’t even need to use their products to get better smart home controls.
You Don’t Need a Hub Anymore
One of the big advantages of using a smart home hub is the unified experience for all of your devices. No matter the brand, as long as they can connect to the hub, you can control them with one app, whereas smart devices that don’t use a hub require their own third-party apps.
If you mix and match several different brands of smart devices, it’s easy to see how this becomes a pain. You have one app to turn on the lights in the bedroom, but there was a great deal on lights from a different brand, so now your living room requires a separate app.
Thankfully, this nightmare scenario doesn’t have to happen as much anymore. While you’ll still probably need those third-party apps to do the initial setup, there are plenty of ways to bring all of your smart devices into one unified experience without a physical hub. We’ll explore a few of those options.
You might assume that you need a Google Nest smart speaker or display to use the Google Home app, but that’s not true. It can integrate with a wide variety of products from popular smart home brands. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, or Android.
The Google Home app allows you to create rooms in your home, and you can place smart devices in them. You can turn on or off all the lights in a room at once, create handy routines, and control everything with Google Assistant.
You don’t need a Google Nest device, but if you do have some, they sort of act like a “hub.” They allow you to control things with your voice, and they’re smart about it. If the speaker is in the living room and you say “Turn off the lights,” it will only turn off the living room lights.
How do you know whether a smart home device can be added to the Google Home app? Make sure that the device has the “Works with Google Assistant” label or mentions Google Assistant in the description.
To add it to the Google Home app, you’ll simply open the app and tap the + icon in the top-left corner. You’ll be guided through setting up your home and selecting the type of device it is.
Similar to Google Home, an Echo device isn’t necessary to use the Amazon Alexa app. Many smart home products from popular brands can be added to it. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
The Alexa app lets you organize devices into “Groups.” You can set up these groups to be rooms, like putting all of your living room devices into one group. It’s totally up to you how you want to organize all the devices.
If you do have some Echo devices in your home, they can control all of the smart devices that you add to the app. The app also allows for the creation of routines, which can automate smart home controls like a hub would.
When you’re buying devices to work with the Alexa app, simply look for the “Works with Alexa” label on the packaging. Amazon.com also prominently displays “Works with Alexa” labels in search results.
To add a device to the Alexa app, open it and go to the “Devices” tab. You’ll then press the + button in the top-right corner and choose the type of device that you’re trying to add.
If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you already have a smart home app installed on your phone. Apple’s “Home” app supports any device that’s compatible with the “HomeKit” platform.
The Apple Home app allows you to organize smart home devices into rooms. You can also add multiple homes and invite others to be able to control the devices. The Home app includes “Automations” as well, although they’re more limited than Google and Amazon.
Like many things Apple, the power of the Home app comes with the entire ecosystem. You can control devices from your Apple Watch and through voice commands with Siri. The only downside is that if you have any Android users in your home, they’ll be left out.
Look for the “Works with Apple HomeKit” label when you’re shopping for compatible devices. Adding a device to the home app is as simple as tapping the + button and scanning a QR code, holding the phone near the device, or entering a number from the packaging.
There Are Still Advantages to a Hub
The evolution of digital assistants and smart speakers has really changed the smart home game. While there are certainly still advantages to having a dedicated hub, the lines are being blurred. You can do a lot with nothing more than your phone.
Smart plugs can make your regular “dumb” home appliances smarter. And if you want to add voice control to manage your appliances via a smart plug, they can be synced to the Amazon Echo, too. Find out how to connect your smart plug to an Alexa device with this step-by-step guide.
What is a Smart Plug?
A smart plug is a device that plugs into your wall outlet and lets you control any device you plug into it with your phone or Echo device. If you plug a lamp into a smart plug, you tell Alexa to turn it off. Or you can schedule your coffee maker to turn on before you wake up every morning.
What Can a Smart Plug Do?
You can use a smart plug to turn an appliance on or off, even when you’re not at home. A smart plug can also reduce your electric bill if you schedule your electronic devices to turn off at set times.
How to Connect a Smart Plug to your Alexa
By connecting your smart plug to the Amazon Echo, you can ask Alexa to control your non-smart appliances. Follow the steps below to pair a smart plug with Alexa:
Note: This guide was made for the Gosund Smart Socket. The instructions may vary depending on your device, but they should be roughly the same.
- Plug your smart plug into an outlet.
- Download the app that goes with your smart plug app. You can find the proper app on the App Store or Google Play Store by searching for the name of your smart plug device or manufacturer.
Warning: Make sure to download the correct app. Certain smart devices have apps with very different names. If you are not sure which app to download, your instructions should have information about which app to download.
Set up your smart plug in the app. Most apps will ask you to create an account with a username and password (write this password down, you’re going to need it later). Then find your device in the app and follow the instructions to set it up.
This will usually involve you pushing a physical button on your smart plug until it begins flashing. Then the device can be discovered by the app during the setup process.
After you set up your smart plug in the app, you still have to set it up with Alexa if you want to control it with voice commands or create a routine with the Alexa app.
Warning: Make sure to download the correct skill. Check to see how many downloads it has before selecting it. If there aren’t many downloads, it could be the wrong app.
In most cases, you will be asked to link the account you created in the app to the Alexa Skill (this is where that password from before comes in handy). Then you will need to let Alexa discover the device.
Once you have paired your smart plug with the Amazon Echo, going through the day and managing even “dumb” electronics would be much smoother.
Want to make sure your kids aren’t using Alexa to turn your devices on and off? Check out our previous article on how to set parental controls on Alexa.
In this NodeMCU project, I have shown how to make an Alexa home automation project with manual switches using NodeMCU ESP8266, relay module, and amazon echo dot. For this ESP8266 Alexa automation project, I have only used Amazon Alexa App to control the home appliances with Alexa.
If there is no internet, still you can also control the home appliances from the push buttons and when the internet comes back the NodeMCU will automatically connect with the WiFi. It will also remember the previous state of the relay module.
For this IoT project, I have not used any third party IoT applications or any custom design PCB, so you can easily make this amazon echo home automation system at home.
Table of Contents
Circuit of ESP8266 Alexa Automation
The circuit is very simple, here I have used D1, D2, D5, D6 GPIOs to connect the relay module and the push buttons are connected with SD3, D3, D7, RX GPIO pins of NodeMCU.
I have used a 5-Volt 2-Amp mobile charger to supply this home automation system.
Required Components for this NodeMCU Project:
Tutorial video on Amazon Echo Home Automation
In this tutorial video, I have shown all the steps to make amazon echo home automation using ESP8266 NodeMCU. I have also explained how to add devices in Amazon Alexa app to control the home appliances with Alexa.
In this home automation project, I have not used any third party IoT Application like Blynk or IFTTT.
Program NodeMCU with Arduino IDE
For this Alexa home automation project, I have used the Arduino IDE to program NodeMCU.
First update the Preferences –> Aditional boards Manager URLs: https://dl.espressif.com/dl/package_esp32_index.json, http://arduino.esp8266.com/stable/package_esp8266com_index.json
Then install the ESP8266 board, I have used the 2.5.1 version, you may get issues with the latest version of ESP8266.
After that install the ESPAlexa library. Click Here to download ESPAlexa library.
Code for Alexa Home Automation
Enter the following WiFi credential in the code:
- WiFi Name at “WiFi Name”
- WiFi Password at “WiFi Password”
Then enter the device names in the code. Alexa will identify that device with the name mentioned in the code.
Now select the board as NodeMCU 1.0 and the PORT in Arduino IDE. Then click on the upload button to program the NodeMCU board.
After uploading the code to NodeMCU, the blue LED connected with pin D0 should turn on as shown in picture.
If the internet is not available, the blue LED will turn off. Then you can control the relay module with push buttons.
And when the internet comes back the NodeMCU will automatically connect with the WiFi and the blue LED will turn on.
Then you can control the home appliances with Alexa and the push buttons.
Configure Amazon Alexa App
In the tutorial video, I have explained all the steps to add devices in Amazon Alexa App.
While configuring the Amazon Alexa App, the NodeMCU or ESP8265, Amazon echo dot and the Mobile should be connected with same the wifi.
Once the Alexa App found all the devices, you can control those devices with voice command using Alexa echo dot.
You may face No new devices found error while adding the devices with Alexa.
Then restart the echo dot, after restart once the echo dot connect with the same WiFi, tap on “Try discovery again”.
Connect Home Appliances with Relay
Now, please refer the above circuit to connect 4 home appliances with relay module.
Please take proper safety precaution while working with high voltage.
Amazon Echo Home Automation system is ready
Now, the IoT project on Alexa home automation is ready, so you can control the home appliances with voice command.
“Alexa, turn on light”, “Alexa, turn off light”, “Alexa , turn on studio light”, etc.
The NodeMCU and Echo Dot should be connected with same wifi.
Controlling light from push buttons
I hope you like this Smart home IoT projects idea with the ESP8266 and Alexa app.
Click Here for more such ESP32 projects.
Please do share your feedback on this IoT project. Thank you for your time.
Ways to simplify controls for your smart home can be relatively expensive. If you’re an Android user, there is an easier way that won’t break the bank.
There are a number of ways to control your smart home without sifting through apps on your smartphone or tablet.
You can use the Amazon Echo to control your lights or thermostat by voice or have your coffee maker brew a cup of coffee, automatically, when your Fitbit detects that you’ve gotten out of bed. And the Flic and Pebblebee Stone are smart buttons you can use to control a number of devices through IFTTT with short or long clicks.
The above methods, however, are rather expensive ways to cut down on the number of steps it takes to perform specific tasks with connected devices around your house.
If you’re an Android user, there is a much simpler and inexpensive way to accomplish effectively the same thing. Here’s how to do it.
What you will need
Assuming you already have an NFC-enabled Android smartphone or tablet, it should only cost around $10 total and a few minutes per tag to get this set up and working.
First, you will need some NFC (near-filed communications) tags (one for every action you want to automate), which you can find on Amazon, usually for cheap. Second, you’ll need an app that will allow you to write to those NFC tags. I’m using NFC Tools, which is free.
Additionally, you will need an IFTTT account with an active Maker channel. If you already have an IFTTT account, all you need to do to activate the Maker channel is navigate to ifttt.com, click Channels in the upper right and search for Maker. Click on the channel icon and click Connect.
Using the Maker channel
To set up the NFC tags to work with IFTTT, you first have to create an IFTTT recipe using the Maker channel. Even if you’re familiar with IFTTT, using the Maker channel can seem a little daunting at first, but it’s actually very easy to use.
Navigate to ifttt.com in your browser or in the IF app on your smartphone. To create a new recipe, click on your username in the browser and click Create in the dropdown menu.
From the IF app, tap the recipe button in the upper right corner, then tap the plus sign in the upper right corner and tap Create a New Recipe at the bottom of the app. Then, to create the Maker recipe:
- Click This and search for Maker. Click on the Maker icon.
- For the Trigger, select Receive a web request.
- For the Event Name, use something that clearly defines what the action will do, such as: “toggle_lights.” Click Create Trigger.
- Next, click That and search for your smart device channel. For this example, I’m using Lifx. Click on the Lifx channel icon.
- Choose an action for the Maker event. Since I named the event “toggle_lights,” I chose the Toggle lights on/off action.
- Select which lights you want to toggle for the Maker event and click Create Action.
- Click Create Recipe to finish.
Setting up the NFC tag
Now, all you need to do to trigger the recipe is write a record to the NFC tag that will tell any NFC-enabled phone to go to a specific URL when it comes in contact with the tag.
- Open the IF app on your smartphone and tap the Recipe button in the upper right corner, then tap the Settings cog. Tap Channels and search for the Maker channel.
- When you open the Maker channel page, tap How to trigger events. Select and copy the URL under Make a POST or GET web request.
- Next, open the NFC Tools app on your smartphone and switch to the Write tab.
- Tap Add a record and select URL/URI.
- Paste the text in the URL field, delete “https://” and replace “
” with the Event Name. In my case, the Event Name is “toggle_lights” from the IFTTT recipe.
- In the dropdown menu to the left, select “https://” and tap OK.
- Tap the Write button and hold the NFC tag near the NFC chip on your phone. The record will write to the NFC tag.
Now you can peel the protective coating off the back of the NFC tag and stick it on the wall near your front door or in a less conspicuous place near the entrance. A few seconds after you tap your phone to the NFC tag, your lights will turn on.
You can use similar recipes to trigger all sorts of events in your house. For instance, you could create a recipe with a Maker event called “Home.” When you walk in and tap your phone to the tag, you can have the lights turn on, the thermostat switch on the heat or air conditioning and your doors lock.
Since these tags are so cheap, you can stick them all around your house. Place one on your coffee table to turn on the TV and activate dimmer lighting for the evening and one by your bedside to start the coffee maker and turn on the lights around the house when you wake up or to turn everything off when going to bed.