Multiple Plex Players, Multiple Alexas - Home control hits a wall trying to get out of one room.
I received an Echo Dot at Christmas to add to our home entertainment system. Throughout the house, there are five TVs. Each is controlled by a Harmony Hub and has a Roku for the Plex Player. The Echo got installed in the Family Room and did a fine job controlling that one room. On Groundhog Day, it gained the ability to say "Alexa, tell Plex to play Groundhog Day." Even better!
Along came an Amazon sale and we added a second Dot to the bedroom. Here's where the limits begin to come into play. To get Alexa to work with a second Harmony and a second Plex Player, it had to be tied to a different account (my wife's, the second account on the household Prime account, aka "the limit").
So now there are three other rooms with Harmony hubs and Plex Players and no good way to add Alexa. Since household Prime accounts are limited to two accounts, the workaround for a second Alexa won't work. Five accounts would quickly become cumbersome, so I'm skeptical I would use the workaround if it did.
It seems these "home control" devices and software are missing the concept of a "room" or "location". Everything seems geared to "groups" for sweeping changes across the whole house ("Alexa, turn off all lights"). All I want to do is walk into a room and say "Alexa, turn on Plex" and a few seconds later follow that with "Alexa, tell Plex to play...". And no, I don't want to have to tell her which player, account or TV to use unless I'm trying to control another room.
Surprisingly, Alexa can discriminate between rooms. Amazon introduced some rather amazing technology technology last October (2016) called Echo Spatial Perception or ESP. Thanks to ESP, I can stand in the doorway between my Family Room and Bedroom, turn to the Family Room and say "Alexa, turn on the TV" and the Family Room TV will come on. If I turn toward the bedroom and say the same thing, the bedroom TV will come on. Pretty amazing, but almost useless unless the Alexa I'm talking to can know what room she's in and make use of it.
So, home control designers and programmers, you might want to recognize that homes have rooms and build your products accordingly. You might want to recognize that if you want to sell more than one of your products per home, your designs have to support more than one device per household.
Yes, I know this is a problem larger than Plex. But, as Echo developers, you probably have a little more influence with Amazon than I do. Thanks Plex for listening and for all the great stuff you do.
Plex Server: Usually running the latest Plex Pass version on Mac Mini (2012) OSX 10.12
Plex DVR: Using HDHomeRun Extend.
Plex Players: Usually running the latest Plex Pass versions on Mac, Roku, iPhone 6, iPad, LGTV and DLNA Players.
Harmony Hubs and two Echo Dots (Alexa): Control TVs, Rokus Plex Players and other components.
Tablo DVR: integrated with Plex for both DVR and Live TV using the TabloTV Channel.
Live TV: HDHomeRun access via Plex unsupported app store HDHR Viewer 2 channel.
Patiently waiting for DVR scheduling to come to the Roku Channel.