Amazon Alexa Speaks To Logitech Harmony

Dave Zatz —  June 16, 2016

logitech-alexa

Despite some hopeful announcements, Apple HomeKit continues to limp along. And many have turned to Amazon as the voice-controlled switchboard of their smart homes. Indeed, after originally unloading two Echoes as a novelty, I’m back on board with one Echo and an Amazon Dot — happily barking commands at Alexa. Amazon’s platform is far more inclusive, interoperating with just about anything, sometimes with help from IFTTT, without Apple’s onerous hardware encryption requirement — although endpoints aren’t vetted for security and Amazon is perhaps more ripe for (verbal) abuse, the possibilities seem endless and it’s oh-so-convenient. Next up to the mound is Logitech, who’s working on native Harmony support to start and stop Activities without picking up that remote control or smarthphone.

Logitech is beta testing Harmony remote control integration with Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap. With this integration, Harmony remote control users will be able to start and stop Harmony Activities using Alexa voice commands. If you own an Echo, we’re looking for people like you try out this new integration and provide feedback on their experience prior to full public release.

24 responses to Amazon Alexa Speaks To Logitech Harmony

  1. William Aprea June 16, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Are they still accepting beta testers?

  2. It was a targeted email with a unique link. I assumed they emailed a random sampling of existing customers, as I’ve never engaged with them before in this manner.

  3. You can do this with Smartthings + Logitech Harmony + Echo. It works though you can only turn on/off activities. You can’t send specific remote commands unfortunately. I would love to be able to pause/play with voice or turn on/off devices without the need for an activity. If I’m watching TV I don’t want to switch to a new activity just to turn on the A/C.

  4. Maybe it was only those who had signed up at https://support.myharmony.com/en-us/beta

    Wish I got this :( I sure hope it can work with multiple echos and multiple hubs.

  5. Jeff, this too looks like it’s only on/off. However, I have my Harmony hub and Dot in the bedroom — I imagine we’ll find it very useful to turn the TV and such off by voice when getting ready for bed or when heading downstairs for the day, without fumbling for the remote.

    Re: SmartThings. I have that here too (at least until the PR team gets me a shipping label, it’s a constant struggle in this business). I’m not too fond of it. There’s good potential if Samsung sticks with it. Some of the better parts of my coverage (in my opinion) were excised during the editing process, including suggestions how to clean up that interface and multiple, competing paradigms.

    Re: TV transport controls. While I haven’t tested it yet, there is at least one TiVo Alexa Skill out there… https://github.com/natejgreene/alexa_tivo

    Jim, So there’s no conflict, misunderstanding, or bruised feelings, I generally don’t “sign up” for betas, unless specifically invited by project management, company execs, etc to provide some assistance or receive early access for later coverage. As such, I don’t recall ever requesting access to a Harmony beta. But I can’t say for certain.

  6. I’ve been doing this for a while via IFTTT, which has the same restrictions (you can only start Activities). Works fine, but like Jeff I really need it to support individual keypresses.

  7. How would this work without IR commands? Also, I’ve never understood how Harmony’s RF system works. How do they have an IR repeater that can hit all of my devices without long wires? Or do they have the wires/IR emitters?

    The last Harmony I used was the harmony one but I ditched that when I got the TiVo Slide Pro remote. I like it so much better than the harmony for core controlling that I’ll use it over the Harmony even if it means picking up additional remotes as needed.

  8. The newer and higher-end Harmonies ship with a Hub – it connects to your home network over WiFi and shoots IR out. I think they also come with IR extenders if you need to stick it in a cabinet, but I unpacked mine so long ago I can’t remember. http://amzn.to/1rsEBkm

    So you’d tell Alexa to start an Activity and the info would be relayed from the Amazon hardware, presumably through the cloud, to the Harmony hub which would emit the commands.

  9. For those looking to do this with HomeKit and Siri you might look into a project called Homebridge. I’ve been running it for a couple months and it’s working well to ask HomeKit support to my Nest, Harmony, and WeMo devices.

  10. Ok, so it’s a fairly messy solution with many wires. I have a large and wide TV stand with a cabinet with three shelves on each side. So I’d need many IR emitters, considering the Hub itself can probably only cover one or maybe two devices on its own. Plus there’s the TV itself.

    Can the Hub utilize a device’s own RF/Bluetooth or network control? Meaning could I avoid using an IR emitter for my newer devices like a TiVo Roamio (RF or network control), Apple TV 4 (Bluetooth), or smart TV/ AVR ( network control)?

    That would make it more appealing.

  11. The hub outputs a pretty strong blast w/o the extenders. It bounces off walls pretty effectively.

  12. Daniel, like Jeff suggests, I’ve had pretty good luck with the Hub on its own. But each install will be different. For my Hub’s current location, I don’t have a cabinet or shelves to mess with. The Hub sits out of the way on my nightstand and hits the Roku, TiVo Mini, and television across the room. Regarding RF and Bluetooth control, it’s really dependent on what the manufacturer makes available – I don’t think Apple TV has opened any hooks to 3rd party control, for example, but Harmony has controlled my Fire TV via Bluetooth and has limited Playstation controls: http://blog.logitech.com/2015/06/02/playstation-4-control-and-logitech-harmony/

  13. The harmony also works fine with AppleTV w/ IR

  14. Hm, thanks for the tip – have you tried it with the NEW Apple TV? I’m finding the touchpad problematic and would prefer directional controls… that I might get from another Harmony.

  15. Dave, No bruised feelings here, only jealousy. But appreciate the clarification.

  16. Yep, works perfectly with the latest AppleTV. Obviously you don’t get the accelerometer functions but everything else works well.

  17. I love the Harmony One, and it has worked well for years, but I found myself taking up the ol’ peanut remote in the last couple of years due to the ease of use (and no longer using the other TV inputs).

    The voice control, however, could change that… If I could get a Dot, or if Siri gets to the point of being able to compete, and I could use voice control for controlling my TV, I would instantly become the laziest person on Earth…

  18. I own both the Echo and the Harmony Remote & Hub and would LOVE to beta test

  19. Robert Pitera June 17, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    I do this now with Yonomi and can turn things on or off.

  20. @daniel the harmony hub emits ir signal and there are also two ir out ports on the hub (although i think most models only come with one ir) you can extend these for example i have one 50′ hdmi and 50′ ir going to my basement to share a tivo. The harmony remote with touchscreens(elite and ultimate) can be set up to also emit ir.

  21. Finally broke down and bought the Echo with the Prime Day $50 off deal, and a $100 gift card I had… Out of pocket was only $38, so I am excited to get it and try this with the few devices I have that will work with it, and hopefully with the Harmony at some point.

  22. Apparently Amazon has discontinued the Echo Dot. I was hoping to get one now that the Echo is coming in next week, but apparently they are sold out and not manufacturing anymore, according to several comments I have read from people contacting Amazon about the availability. There is likely a replacement coming, possibly without the issues that have been reported with the Dot (few as they were). It was wildly successful, so this is a bit disappointing, unless they come out with an improved version soon.

  23. It was announced as a limited edition and I figured both the Echo and the Dot would see a refresh this fall. I have a Dot on my nightstand, but it doesn’t get much use.

  24. Scifietronica July 23, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    When I learned about this beta test, I invested in a Harmony Hub. I create activities and then use Yonomi to create “routines” that run the activities. Then the Echo finds the routines as “connected devices.” It’s a bit time consuming. So far, in the past month, I have only created about 10 activities to change the channel to my 10 favorites and turn on the info bar. Next I’m going to focus on “pause” live TV, Netflix, and Amazon TV. I’m trying to do it in a way that, if and when the Harmony integrates with the Echo, the Echo will just find my activities and I can drop the Yonomi connection.