Home Automation – Part IV

Sometimes you just need a quick solution. Recently, I was asked if we could get Alexa or Google to say something specific for inclusion in a promotional video. While my first instinct was to learn to do this using programming, I found this short-cut along the way. So I’ve decided to hold off on the programming article until next week and instead start with this quick fix which can be used with absolutely no programming knowledge.

There are already some built-in commands you can use to make your Echo or Home imitate you in parrot-fashion. “Alexa, simon says call the cops” will make her repeat the phrase “call the cops”. However if you try this on Google, it will instead play a game of Simon says. The same result can be achieved on Google by saying “Ok Google, repeat after me, call the cops”.

Another way to get the same result is to link your voice app to your calendar and then add an event such as “How about a nice game of chess”. This works on both systems, so then you just ask either one “What’s on my calendar today” and assuming you set-up the event correctly, both systems should reply “How about a nice game of chess”. If you are using both systems (and potentially others such as Siri & Cortana), it might not be too long before you start wondering if it’s possible for them to trigger each other and create an infinite loop. The answer is of course yes and you can see it in action here:

Next week we’ll look into some entry-level programming for expanding the usefulness of voice devices, but if you don’t yet have one or even a phone capable of running the apps, just remember this is a young technology and there are still lots of bugs which need to be fixed. On that note, I’ll leave you with one of the funniest clips I’ve seen so far which demonstrates that more devices does not necessarily make things better. Until next time, enjoy!:


Posted on

29th January 2018

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