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Smartphone Required; Amazon Echo’s Unique Setup Process

In a previous post, I wrote about my new Echo from Amazon. The Amazon Echo is a Wifi connected speaker which you place in your home. You can then talk to it (it’s named Alexa), and it will follow commands like playing music, providing weather reports, and–paired with a SmartThings or similar hub–control your lights and appliances. Amazon is clearly pushing the Echo as a fancy consumer product. It comes with nice Apple-esque packaging, a...
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Introducing Amazon Echo

Earlier this month, I got my new Echo from Amazon. What exactly is an Amazon Echo? Basically, it’s a little Wi-Fi connected speaker that you place in your home. It has eight directional microphones in a ring around the top, and it’s constantly listening–just like the NSA! When it hears you say a wake word (“Alexa”), it starts listening for commands. With only your voice, you can tell it to do all kinds of things,...
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DIY Sonos With My Android Home Automation Tablet

This week, I’ve been posting a bunch about my new Android home automation tablet. So far, I showed the basic setup, and I showed how I use the tablet combined with the Phillips Hue Android app to control the lights in my living room. But as I mentioned in my first post about the DIY Android home automation tablet, one of the advantages of repurposing an old tablet for a home automation controller is the...
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Testing the Phillips Hue Lux

For a while now, I’ve been using the fancy Hue system from Phillips. These are pricey LED lightbulbs which you can control remotely from your smartphone. Not only can you do standard things like turning lights on and off, but you can also change the color temperature on the fly (going from a nice, warm incandescent light to something suggestive of a 1980s office park), change all the lights in your house to your favorite...
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Video: Monitoring Electrical Usage with Bidgely

In a previous post, I shared info about monitoring your realtime electrical usage via a smart meter and hardware from the home automation startup Bidgely. Below is a video from my testing of Bidgely. This includes info on the Rainforest Eagle, as well as a demo of Bidgely’s web interface. I’ve been using Bidgely for more than six months now, and despite some issues with data connectivity to my smart meter, it’s been a great...
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