Thursday, July 23, 2020

How I Make My Home Become Smarter With Amazon Alexa?

I've been using Alexa devices for almost one year, I started with Amazon Echo Show 5 and put it in my bedroom. I was quite fascinated with the product and so excited when connecting Alexa with some of my smart devices like Mi Roborock vacuum cleaner and Yeelight smart bulb. Then the month after it, I bought another Amazon device called Amazon Echo Dot 3 and put it in the living room to enhance the coverage and simply because I don't want to shout out when I want to "talk" with Alexa when I'm not in the bedroom.
And along the way, I become so obsessed with making my home become smarter and controllable with Alexa. Here's what I did in each room with the devices:

Alexa Devices

My Amazon Echo Show 5 and Echo Dot 3. These are the smart speakers that are able to recognize my voice, connect with the Alexa app, and control my smart devices.

Smart Plugs

I bought smart plugs to make my not-smart electronic devices become smarter. I connect the smart plugs with my fans, so I just need to say "Alexa, turn-on fan one" to turn-on the fan in my living room. I also connect it with my TV power adapter so I can turn-on and turn-off using voice command.

Smart Bulb

I love this 2nd generation Yeelight smart LED bulb, it's only using 10 watt for the power and has a huge range of colors. As per the product description, it has 16 million colors. What I love about this product is because it has its own mobile app called Yeelight with so many settings and configurations. And most importantly, it can be connected with Alexa. I just need to voice command "Alexa, dim the light to 30%" to reduce the bedroom light.

Smart Vacuum Cleaner

I consider myself as a bit of lazy bum when doing house chores, like sweeping and mopping the floor, normally I just do it weekly over weekends. I'm so glad that my friend introduced me to this product called Xiaomi Roborock S5, which will soon become really big help for me. It can do the vacuum and also mop the floor. It's just perfect for someone that busy (read: lazy) as myself.

It works really well by starting to map the house, then move around using the algorithm to clean-up the house. It also has its own app to see the cleaning progress shown in different colors in the house map, able to ask it to return to the charging dock, and has automation to start when conditions are met (e.g. based on scheduler, using other connected Xiaomi devices, etc.).

And of course, it's controllable via Alexa. I just need to ask "Alexa, clean-up the house", then it will start to do the work while I'm watching TV or playing my game console. It's a great investment and really convenient.

Smart 360 Degrees Security Camera

I bought a Xiaomi 360 degrees security camera that can be put either on top of the table or install it on the wall or ceiling. This security camera is really great with high definition 1080p, night mode, and has two-way audios with microphone & speaker. It's also controllable via Xiaomi mobile app, so I can set-up some settings like auto-push notification if there's movement or sound, and can view live monitoring from my mobile phone.

And I can connect it with Alexa too, so I just need to mention "Alexa, show me security camera", then live streaming video from the camera will be shown in my Echo Show. 

Android TV Box with Aberto Sonorus

I found this android app named Aberto Sonorus that can be installed in my Android TV Box. With it, I can identify and register all installed apps (e.g. Netflix, YouTube, Astro on The Go, Spotify) in my Android TV Box as a single device that can be connected to Alexa. I just simply ask "Alexa, open Netflix" then it will open Netflix.

Smart Infrared Remote Control

This is the latest device that I bought online. Basically because I want to control any electronic device that has remote control (e.g. aircon, fan, TV). It's using the same mobile app like the smart plug, which is SmartLife. And of course, it's controllable via Alexa.


Another cool thing that can be done with Alexa is by setting routine. Every weekdays 7am it will start to turn-on my smart light bulb with low dim and stronger over time, turn-off my aircon via smart IR, ring the alarm at 7:20am, then show weather and traffic to my office (it's bit useless now because I'm working from home), and last it will play my favorite playlist from Spotify.

I'm still exploring more on what I can do with Alexa. I just bought Raspberry Pi 4 and some electrical sensors. It will become my next mini project using all of it.

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