Using Harmony Hub to connect to Alexa or Google Assistant

Background

Alexa requires an Amazon Echo device to control the lights and other devices that are available on eRVin. Google Assistant cannot control eRVin directly.  If you don’t have an Echo (or even if you do) a Harmony Hub can be used to control eRVin with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Harmony Hub recognizes eRVin as a Phillips Hue Bridge with each light as a device.  Alexa and Google Assistant (A/GA) connect to Harmony Hub and control eRVin through the Hub.  You must create Activities on the Harmony to control the lights. You then turn the Activities on or off in the Harmony app or with A/GA.

I found that, for me, creating Activities using the Harmony app was much easier than creating complex Routines in the Alexa app. It is then easy to create a simple Alexa Routine to activate the Harmony Activities.

There is a limitation in this implementation. Individual lights cannot be dimmed by A/GA through Harmony. A Harmony Activity is equivalent to an eRVin Scene. When you create a Harmony Activity, the state of each light is set, including ON, OFF and Brightness. A/GA can turn these activities on or off to set the lights as defined in the Activity.  Individual lights can be controlled in the Harmony app, just as they can in the eRVin app.  The list of lights in Harmony, however, is not organized neatly like the eRVin app.

The steps to set up Harmony for eRVin are as follows:

  1. Connect eRVin to the Harmony Hub.
  2. Create Activities to control individual or groups of lights.
  3. Link Alexa or Google Assistant to Harmony Hub
  4. Create Routines in Alexa or Google Assistant.

Connect eRVin to the Harmony Hub

The following assumes that you have set up your Harmony Hub and connected it to your home WiFi network.

  1. Make sure your eRVin hardware is turned on and fully booted.
  2. Open the Android or Apple Harmony app. You will need to sign into your Harmony account if this is the first time you have used the app.
  3. Tap Devices
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap Edit Devices
  5. Tap + Device at the bottom of the screen
  6. Tap SCAN FOR DEVICES ON YOUR NETWORK
  7. When scan is complete select Philips Hue and tap NEXT
  8. The next screen says to tap the center button. Ignore this and wait for next screen to be displayed.
  9. The Devices tab now has a device called Lights.  You can tap on the down arrow to display all of the eRVin lights and devices.

At this point you can tap on a light in the Harmony app to turn it on, off or control the brightness.

Create Harmony Hub Activities

Harmony Activities are similar to eRVin Scenes.  They can be complex Activities, like Bedtime, that turn on multiple lights and set their brightness levels while turning off other lights.  They can be simple, like Kitchen, that just turn on one or two lights while not changing any other lights.

Harmony Activities differ from eRVin Scenes as follows: eRVin Scenes set up what happens when the Scene is started.  Harmony Activities do this but can also specify what happens when the Activity ends.  This is optional but is useful when you want to control simple Activities like turning lights on and off. For example, eRVin has a Scene called “All Inside On” and a separate Scene called “All Inside Off”. Harmony would just have one Activity called “All Inside Lights” that you turn On or Off.

Since A/GA cannot directly control an individual light, you must set up an Activity if you want to do that. For example, you can create an Activity called Dinette Light that turns on the light when the Activity starts and turns off the light when the Activity ends.  You can then say, “Alexa, Turn on Dinette Light” or “Hey, Google, Turn off the Dinette Light”

Create Harmony Hub Activities as follows:

  1. Open the Android or Apple Harmony app and you will see current activities, if any, that have been created.  Scroll to the bottom of the list and tap Edit Activities
  2. Scroll to the bottom and tap + Add Activity
  3. Tap Add your own Activity   >
  4. Enter a name for  the Activity in the box at the top of the screen and select an icon for the activity if you would like.
  5. Tap the > at the top right of the screen.
  6. Select the lights that you would like to control in this Activity. Note: This is the opposite of Excluding items in eRVin Scene Builder.
  7. Tap the > at the top right of the screen.
  8. Choose whether to power off entertainment devices when this Activity starts.  Most of the time you will choose “Leave everything as is”.
  9. Tap the > at the top right of the screen.
  10. Tap the > at the top right of the screen again.
  11. On the  ACTIVITY START screen you will set the state that you would like each light to be in when you say “Turn On (Activity)”. Tap a light in the list and on the next screen select ON, OFF and brightness desired for this light. Note: the APPLY TO ALL LIGHTS button is very useful to set a number of lights in the list to the same state quickly.
  12. Tap the > at the top right of the screen.
  13. Continue setting each light as desired and when done Tap the > at the top right of the screen.
  14. On the  ACTIVITY END screen set the state that you would like each light to be in when you say “Turn Off (Activity)” If you don’t want to change a light when the Activity ends, leave the box blank.  For an Activity like “Bedtime” you will probably leave all the boxes blank unless you want something to happen when you say “Turn off Bedtime”
  15. Tap the > at the top right of the screen. Harmony will sync the changes to the Hub and to the Harmony server. When complete, the Activities screen will appear and your new Activity will be shown.
  16. Tap the Activity and make sure that everything is working as expected. If not, tap Edit Activities and tap the Activity that you want to change. You can Edit the Start or End actions. If you want to change which lights you control in the Activity, tap RE-RUN ACTIVITY.

Link Alexa to Harmony Hub

Harmony has good instructions on how to link Alexa to Harmony at https://support.myharmony.com/en-us/harmony-experience-with-amazon-alexa

After completing the link, on the Alexa app you can click on the Scenes tab in the Alexa app and view all of the Activities that you have created. You can now say, “Alexa, turn on (Activity name).  This is functional, but it is better to create Alexa Routines to provide a more pleasant experience.

Create Routines in Alexa

Check out this link for the official Amazon help page.  The steps below describe how to create a Routine in the Alexa app specific to eRVin Harmony Activites:

  1. Go to the menu and select Routines.
  2. Select the + icon in the top right corner.
  3. Select When This Happens, and then choose how to trigger the Routine. For eRVin, normally you will select Voice, then at the When You Say… screen, type in the voice command you want to say to activate the routine. For example Good Morning.  Choose a name that’s intuitive and easy to say, don’t choose a name that is the same or similar to one already in use by either a Group or another Routine. Then click Next.
  4. Select Add action, and then to see the Harmony Activities choose Smart Home and then Control scene. Select the appropriate Scene (Activity) that you want to use.
  5. Click the box next to Power and select whether you want to turn the Activity On (Start) or turn Off (End).  Typically you will want On.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Typically there will be one Harmony Activity associated with one Routine.  You may want to add other actions, like Weather for the Good Morning Routine. When you are done setting up the routine, click Save in the upper right hand corner.
  8. To modify a Routine, go to the Routines page, tap on the name of the routine you want to modify. Note that the blue arrow to the right of the Routine name, plays the routine.

Link Google Assistant to Harmony Hub

Harmony has good instructions on how to link Google Assistant to Harmony at https://support.myharmony.com/en-us/harmony-experience-with-google-assistant.

After completing the link, on the Google Home app, you can go to home page and scroll down to the Harmony Hub section to view all of the Activities that you have created. You can now say, “Hey Google, turn on (Activity name).  This is functional, but it is better to set up Google Assistant Routines to provide a more pleasant experience.

Create Routines in Google Home

Check out this link for the official Google help page.  The steps below describe how to create a Routine in the Google Home app specific to eRVin Harmony Activites:

  1. In the Google Home app go to the home page and select Routines. If there is a built-in routine with the name you want to use, like Good morning, you must edit it instead of creating a new Routine.  To edit, tap the name of the routine and make the required changes.  In the following steps I will tell you how to create a new Routine. Once you have done that you will understand how to edit built-in routines.
  2. Select the + icon in the lower right corner.
  3. Select + Add starter, and then choose how to trigger the Routine. For eRVin, normally you will select Voice command, then at the When I say… box, type in the voice command you want to say to activate the routine. For example Goodnight.  Choose a name that’s intuitive and easy to say, don’t choose a name that is the same or similar to one already in use by another Routine. Then click Done.
  4. Select + Add action, and Try adding your own. In the Add action box, type what you would say to turn on a Harmony Activity. For example, for the Goodnight Routine, I would enter, “Turn on the Bedtime Lights”. Tap Done.
  5. Typically there will be one Harmony Activity associated with one Routine.  You may want to add other actions, like Weather for the Good Morning Routine. When you are done setting up the routine, click Save in the lower right hand corner.
  6. To modify a Routine, go to the Routines page, tap on the name of the routine you want to modify. Tap the Pencil at the top of the screen in order to make changes. When finished tap Done and Save

 

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