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About Me

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  1. Here is a project I have been refining for a while and will finally get to deploy it to a person in Arizona this January. She is totally blind and very forgetful and the path from her couch to the bathroom is quite involved. Here are a couple of videos where I've staged it in my house: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYsY-BOeZsA&t=2s This solution uses Alexa for the nice big Echo Buttons and reasonably priced speakers (Echo Dot) along with Samsung SmartThings Webcore providing the logic and SmartThings motion sensors paired with the SmartThings Hub
  2. The first is the ability to set a "wait" period in a Routine to less than one minute... now down to 5 seconds. Previously I had been sprinkling "dummy" commands like volume adjustments for short delays The second is the ability to invoke an Alexa Skill from within a Routine. I have been waiting for this as I have been using a second Echo Dot to speak that Skill invocation command to a first Echo Dot to start a game at a defined time. This is very useful for those living independently who need a bit of encouragement to exercise their mind or body https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/cf65c68e-f3df-475e-939d-4ea2771b20b7/tell-your-customers-they-can-now-invoke-your-skill-from-routines
  3. I got frustrated trying to set mine up as it wouldn't pair with the Bluetooth in my Toyota Camry. The support site lists a few years of Camry that don't work and I assume this is due to specific customer complaints. My car doesn't have an audio in jack, so I started looking into a USB powered BT speaker to put in the car... As I started testing that in my house and had some issues, but found out that my Samsung S10 phone can act as a BT speaker for the Echo Auto! That surprised me as I have always used my phone as a BT transmitter to a BT speaker. Anyway, I now can use my phone as a speaker for Echo Auto, as it requires my phone anyway as its mobile connection and GPS. This gives me what I'll always wanted... a hands-free Alexa app on my phone I can have routines "speak" using "This mobile device" and Reminders speak using "Alexa on phone" Update... I recently found out that since my Samsung phone, which has always been able to Bluetooth connect to my Camry to play music and do phone calls, that this ability still works even when Echo Auto is connected to my phone as a wireless microphone. This means that I can be listening to music through my phone on the car audio system and still do Alexa functions, even Google Maps navigation, while music is playing Alexa/Google will only interrupt the music while it speaking, then the music continues... its really working great!! The next post is about another approach using a button Frank
  4. I actually like the built-in clock. I'm using it next to the kitchen sink with the medication reminder light. Although it can also display the outside temperature, it only does when speaking a response to an temperature check... I wish it would toggle between time & temp with a user selectable frequency
  5. here is my solution for mounting an Echo button near an entry switch without making any holes in the wall. It uses a double gang switch cover with one side as a blank
  6. Amazon is introducing new feature to its Alexa Show device designed to help blind and other low-vision customers identify common household pantry items by holding them up in front of Alexa’s camera and asking what it is. The feature uses a combination of computer vision and machine learning techniques in order to recognize the objects the Echo Show sees. https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/23/amazons-echo-show-can-now-identify-household-pantry-items-held-in-front-of-its-camera/
  7. Not sure how long it's been available but I've just been given the heads up that Whisper Mode is now available in the UK. I've enabled it this morning & can confirm it works well 👍
  8. There has been a problem for at least 48 hours where IOS & Android users have been unable to create or modify Alexa Routines that trigger from contact or motion sensors. Fire Tablet users can still perform this operation https://www.amazonforum.com/forums/devices/smart-home/520988-cant-create-new-routines-involving-sensor-devices Frank
  9. For those individuals living independently, with remote technical support provide by friends and family, a common request is for better reminders for appointments and other events. The normal “one & done” type of reminder provided on a phone is usually not sufficient. Some calendar event apps supply an additional “alert” feature, but the individual is still required to look at reminder text. With the growing popularity of voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, a new class of reminders became available with verbal reminders with music and video animations as well as physical light and sound flashers, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WgWYcgk-Po Since many individuals living independently wear a watch, the use of a Samsung Galaxy Watch to provide additional spoken reminders is a reality. In this solution, use of standard Alexa Reminders can be set by the individual or their friend/family member remotely using the individual’s Alexa account on their own phone, tablet or PC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8GJ6VTtoVc This solution utilizes a Samsung Galaxy Store app “Talk to Alexa” to provide a means to speak the reminders on the individual’s wrist. While there are other apps that could be used to provide Text to Speech on that app’s own reminder list, the above approach requires no additional training as it utilizes the standard Alexa reminders FrankE
  10. While Alexa Routines have proven very useful in providing home automation solutions for those wanting to live independently, they currently lack a key feature. Namely, while they can be used to make Alexa “speak” a desired text, they can’t directly command Alexa to perform a command. For example, there is no way for an Alexa Routine to invoke an Alexa Skill or even tell Alexa to perform a command such as “Alexa, watch Downton Abby”. These type of actions are currently restricted to Alexa “spoken commands” or “Tap to Alexa” button taps on Echo Show devices. There have been several solutions proposed that involve using an Echo Dot as a “backpack” on an Echo Show, or even Alexa-based robot speaking to an Echo Show to perform these actions. One of the downsides of this approach is that the individual can hear the commands being spoken. One way around this is to package two Echo Dots in a box so that the individual can’t hear those spoken commands… announcing “Dots in a Box” Dots in a Box One sample application is to use an Echo Button to trigger an Alexa Skill to find a missing remote using one Echo Dot (Dots-in-a-box talker) speaking the command (“Alexa, ask Tile to find my remote”) to the other Echo Dot (Dots-in-a-box listener) which invokes the Alexa Tile Skill. This is easier than remembering that spoken command (Candy is optional) · Suitable box https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0054G6A8Q/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_i.VxDbMNNQXFV · Echo Button https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072C4KCQH/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_GZXxDbVACS7YB · 2- Echo Dots https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FZ8S74R/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_s-VxDbDY18XJA · Tile Mate https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GLY3HCS/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_NaWxDbBXY5JJJ · Alexa Skill “Tile” o Note that the Alexa Skill REQUIRES the Tile app to be open and running on a Bluetooth phone or other device so that the Tile can be contacted. · Alexa Routine https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=G202200080 A Bluetooth device such as your phone with the Tile app installed and open Another example of this solution would be using an Echo Button or even a Samsung SmartThings Button on a lanyard/necklace to place a non-emergency request for a friend or family member to give their loved one a call. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F8ZFFQK/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_6aYxDbTR49EMW
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  12. Ever wish that your Alexa routine that are "voice triggered" could also include a "time of day" condition like the "event trigged" Routines offer? I was looking for a simple way to do this and found that if I use a SmartThings (ST) Automation to trigger an Alexa Routine through a Virtual Contact closure, I can then have a "Time of Day" condition in my "voice trigged" routine In my case, I needed this for an elderly person who asks Alexa for the time in the middle of the night and gets confused by AM/PM. This way when the question is asked, they get a more meaningful response The trick here is using ST to generate a trigger back to Alexa so that a the Routine can check the time when involved. This can’t be done on a routine that is spoken to Alexa · When Alexa hears “Alexa, is it time to get up” o Alexa sets WakeUpCheck virtual switch · ST Automation triggers on WakeUpCheck and sets TWO virtual contacts o Responds by opening Virtual Contact WakeUpSoon o Responds by opening Virtual Contact WakeUpLater · Alexa Routine WakeUpSoon o Triggers off WakeUpSoon and checks for <= 30 minutes prior to alarm o Tells Grandpa he might as well stay up · Alexa Routine WakeUpLater o Triggers off WakeUpLater and checks for > 31 minutes prior to alarm o Tells Grandpa he should go back to sleep
  13. My Lady A (Amazon Alexa) is no longer playing well (integrating) with my Samsung Smartthings V3 Hub? I keep getting the following Error when attempting to Re-enable the Samsung Smartthings Skill... "ERROR 403: Sorry, the resource you want to access is forbidden, so this request has been refused. If you have any questions, please contact the administrator". I've scoured the internet (Google was not my friend today) including the Samsung Website and have not been able to find an answer? Can anyone help please? 🙂 Alexa)
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