Multiple Plex Players, Multiple Alexas - Home control hits a wall trying to get out of one room.

alexa
voice-control

#1

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.


#2

You can control multiple Harmony Hubs if you use Yonomi. You can use a single Amazon account versus having to create more than one Amazon account. You can also control different Plex devices by telling the name of the Plex client you want to watch (as long as each Plex client can be named differently - a problem that, to date, Plex has not really tackled).


#3

@kegobeer-plex said:
You can control multiple Harmony Hubs if you use Yonomi. You can use a single Amazon account versus having to create more than one Amazon account. You can also control different Plex devices by telling the name of the Plex client you want to watch (as long as each Plex client can be named differently - a problem that, to date, Plex has not really tackled).

Thanks. I've tried Yonomi. It has a very limited set of commands. And, I'm not really looking to have to walk into a room and tell Yonomi which room I'm in. Any intelligence, no matter how artificial ought to be able to figure that out. The other problem I had with Yonomi is having to dedicate an intermediate device to it. Any time the device went to sleep, Yonomi seemed to break. It was not reliable.


#4

I have a smartthings hub and have added an integration called EchoSistant, this allows me to control several harmony hubs within my home.

I have also integrated google search into my Alexa's so I can say things like "Alexa, ask google what is a tinfoil hat?" which returns proper results instead of (because there is no wiki), sorry I can't find the answer to that.