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Advanced Voice Activation: Smart Home Step 6

Posted On - 10/11/2017 08:13:16

Making voice activation do really cool stuffThere's no doubt voice activation transforms Smart Home. Being able to say what you want and it happens is so much easier than fiddling with your mobile. It's far simpler and quicker too.

My last blog "Smart Home Step 5: Anyone Home?" looked at how to use The Echo's built-in ‘Shopping List' to note your daily spares order. And how doing so takes away the need for scraps of paper and time spent making notes.

That's great. But things can be even better. If you'd like to know how, read on…

Not quite there

I'm biased: being able to say "Alexa, add a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti G1 to my Target basket" would be pretty damn useful no? And while reality means we have to settle for a bit less it's still way better than nothing.

As I set out in "Smart Home Step 5: Anyone Home?" asking Alexa to add the board to "my shopping list" is a great 2nd best. As is saying "Alexa, what's on my shopping list" when it's time to order.

But if you're like me, exciting as all this is, there's still a niggle. Because while Alexa will tell you what you've listed you've no record. Sure you can see your shopping list on the Amazon website. You can see it on the Echo app. But delete either before buying or making a note and you're stuck. You've nothing in your hands saying what you wanted.

Advanced Voice Activation

Well unsurprisingly this blog deals with the issue. It's the perfect fit for how my blogs series is unfolding. This post will tell you how to go about getting copies of your shopping list. What's more I'm going to set out how with a simple, convenient way using voice activation. Voice activation that triggers all the action with no extra commands! How? It's easier than you may think – combine voice activation with a smart web service. Combine using the Echo with an IFTTT Applet. Intrigued? Read on and all will become clear.

Speak to me

Let's jump to the chase. Imagine the scene...

It's the end of the day – time to place your order for spares. As you pack away your last job you say "Alexa, what's on my shopping list?" Alexa starts playing back, listing all the things you want. As you walk towards your Wi-Fi printer listening you grab a pen. By the time you get there a copy of the list has printed. You pick it up, ticking off what's listed and jotting notes about some other stuff you want. A ping from your computer alerts you to a new email – it contains a copy of the list just printed.

All at once you have everything you need. You've heard what's on your list and have both hard and soft copies too. And it was all triggered by one phrase - that's efficient, effective and highly productive. All you need do now is fill your basket and place the order.

How was it all done? 

The power of IFTTT is its simplicity. For every "If" there can only be one "That". It's not the end of the world, but it does mean doing what we want takes two Applets. One to print the list and one to send the email. While the detail's below the summary is here.

Each of the two Applets uses the same "If" service – choose ‘Amazon Alexa' in both cases and choose "ask what's on your shopping list" as the trigger.

From here each Applet differs...

For the print Applet choose ‘HP Print' as the action service. Then choose the ‘print Amazon shopping list' option.

For the email Applet choose ‘email' as the action service and confirm the subject and content of the message.

Once you've done all these you're ready to go.

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