Configuring Voice Recognition for Home Automation Systems

Although voice recognition is not yet a perfect technology, it’s good enough to yield some cool results when combined with Powerhome and a home automation system. This section goes over the steps required to get a basic voice recognition setup running in Powerhome. 

Getting the Extensions

Unless you already have the Microsoft Voice Recognition and Text to Speech modules installed, you’ll need to download them from They are located here: Once they’re downloaded and installed, you can proceed to the next step.

Configuring VR in Powerhome

In order to get voice recognition working in Powerhome, go to Powerhome Explorer, then choose Setup, then VR. You will find a series of options:

 Setting up Voice Recognition in Powerhome

First, check off Enable Voice Recogition. Then, check Voice Recognition Auto Start–this makes sure that voice recognition starts up when Powerhome starts. Next, set the Auto Grammar to Sleep. Next, close the setup tab and choose Voice in the Powerhome Explorer:

Creating a new Powerhome Grammar
In the voice section, right click and choose to create a new grammar. Name this whatever you want, then go back to Setup–>Voice and set this new grammar as your Global Grammar.

Finally, reinitialize Powerhome to save the changes.

Setting Up the SLEEP Grammar

In voice recognition terms, a grammar is a set of definitions that the system will follow. Basically, you’re telling the system what phrases to listen for, and what to do if a particular phrase is spoken. First, you want to set up the Sleep grammar. This is the grammar that the system will use when it’s not listening for anything in particular. The sleep grammar contains only one command–to change to the normal grammar. That way, when the sleep grammar is turned on, the system will not perform commands like turning on lights based on extraneous conversations in a room.

To modify the sleep grammar, go into Powerhome Explorer and select the sleep grammar. Then, create a new step and fill in the boxes like this: WAKE UP | (the phrase you want to say to make the system start listening) | Raw Formula | ph_chggrammar(“The Name of Your Global/Main Grammar”)

For example, if you want to system to start listening when you say “There comes a time for all good men to come to the aid of their party” and your global/main grammar is called MAIN, your command would look like this: WAKE UP | There comes a time for all good men to come to the aid of their party | Raw Formula | ph_chggrammar(“MAIN”). Make sure to choose a creative phrase here–you’re looking for something that would never be uttered in normal conversation, since this phrase will wake up the voice recoginition system and start it listening.

Your finished SLEEP grammar should look something like this:

Setting up the SLEEP Grammar

Adding Commands to Your Global/Main Grammar

Once you have the SLEEP grammar configured, go to your main grammar and start adding commands. These commands follow the same format as the WAKE UP command in the sleep grammar, but you can have the system do whatever you want in response to a spoken command. For example, if you had a lamp on the x10 module A1 and wanted the lights to come on when you said “Lights on”, you would create a macro that triggers the A1 module (let’s call the macro LIGHTS), and then you would make a step inside your Global/Main grammar that looked like this: TURN THE LIGHTS ON | Lights on | Macro | LIGHTS

You can do a lot of cool stuff with spoken commands, just make sure you’re not controlling anything too vital (such as a furnace), since voice recognition is not always the most accurate technology. Also, make sure you add a command that goes back to the SLEEP grammar (something like SLEEP | Go to sleep | Raw Formula | ph_chggrammar(“SLEEP”)) so that you can put the system back to sleep when you’re done.


To finish everything up, simply reinitialize or restart Powerhome. Towards the upper left of the program, you should see a box that indicates that VR is turned on. When you speak into the microphone, little “?” symbols should appear. If there is a button that says “Disabled”, click it to enable VR. Now, say your wake up phrase. This will switch to your Global/Main grammar. Say any phrase from your Global/Main grammar, and Powerhome should perform the command that corresponds to it.

Training Your Voice Recognition System

In order for voice recoginition software to work properly, it must be trained to recognize your voice, and configured to meet your requirements. To do this, go to Voice in the main Powerhome window:
Set up Advanced VR Settings
To start training your system, choose Training, and follow the wizard. The more training sessions you do, the more accurate your system will become. If your system is too sensitive or not sensitive enough, use the Microphone Setup or Recognition Setup options to correct this. If there is a word that your system can’t understand, choose Lexicon to add the word.

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