Harmony Skills for Alexa (Red & Blue)

harmony Jul 19, 2017
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You've probably stumbled across this page if like me you live in the UK and don't have access to the Harmony Blue Skill.

If you're lucky enough to live in the US then this doesn't really apply to you as the US has 2 Echo Skills available for the Harmony, I will explain the difference below and how I over came the limitations in the UK.

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Harmony (Red Skill)

The Red skill is a basic Echo Skill available in both the US and UK. This skill links your Harmony Hub to Alexa. To control the hub you say commands such as "alexa, ask harmony to turn on...." alexa, ask harmony to turn the volume up"

Straight away you will notice that you have to use the INVOCATION name harmony to get it to do anything like many other basic skills. However Smart Home Skills like Phillips Hue or Samsungs Smarttthings allow you to use more natural speech such as:- "alexa, turn on living room lights" There's no need for an INVOCATION word.

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Harmony (Blue Skill)

This leads onto the Harmony Blue Skill. Available only in the US, this skills is a Smart Home Skill which links Harmony and the Echo. With the Blue Skill it drops the INVOCATION word allowing you to say:- "alexa, turn on the TV" "alexa, turn up the volume" This is a much easier and cleaner way to interact with your new digital assistant don't you agree?

Unfortunately in the UK we don't have access to the Blue Skill however Harmony links with Smartthings and Smartthings is classed as a Smart Home Skill.

So my work around involves you already having or willing to purchase a Smartthings Hub.

  • Set up your Harmony Hub like normal with Activities
  • I had Activities called 'Watch Tv', 'Watch Emby', 'Play Xbox' and 'CCTV'.
  • Smartthings App - Open up the App and go to 'Automation' then '+ Add a Smart App' install the Logitech Harmony (Connect) app.
  • The Smart app will search and find your Harmony Hub and Activities.
  • The Activities will now be show as 'Things' which can be turned on/off within Smartthings.
  • They will be call {Activity Name} Harmony Hub. Rename them to something more appropriate, I called my 'Watch TV'
  • Head over to the Alexa App and then into 'Smart Home'. Click on Devices and run a Discover.
  • Alexa should find the new Smartthings Device called 'Watch TV' etc.

And that's it. Now in the UK you can say:- "Alexa, turn on the TV" This will activate the Smartthings Switch which in turn runs the Harmony Activity.


Limitations

Ok so this doesnt give you the full functionality of the BLue Skill but it's a start. You still cant control Volume or Favourites with out using the invocation name.


Issues

I ran into a few issues with my install, most noteably was that if any other device in your Smartthings App has the word TV in it then Alexa cant differentiate them. So when I said "Alexa, turn on the TV" she relied "there is more than one device called TV, which do you want?" But she didnt list them. Even after I deleted the other device called TV from Smartthings Alexa still thinks there is 2 devices called TV and there is no way to set one as default (that I could find). Even unlinking Smarttings from Alexa and re-linking didnt fix the issue.

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