Home Automation – The First Step

Date:  May 29, 2016

Every since I watch Star Trek, I dreamed of a day that I can say “Computer, off the lights!”

Finally, surprisingly, Amazon seems to have a winner in this home automation.

Meet Alexa.  The name of Amazon Echo.  The AI assistant.

Amazon Echo


It comes with a very simple packaging.


It is just Amazon Echo and the power supply and a piece of paper (instructions).



I set up Amazon Echo in my bed room.  Here are some of the example of things I can say.

  1. [Music] Alexa, play some smooth Jazz.
  2. [Questions] Alexa, what is 2+3+4+5+6 equal to?
  3. [Jokes] Alexa, tell me a joke
  4. [News] Alexa, read today headlines
  5. [Audiobooks] Alexa, read audiobook Star Wars Bloodline
  6. [Podcast] Alexa, play podcast Science Friday
  7. [Weather] Alexa, will it rain tomorrow in Singapore?
  8. [Time] Alexa, what time is it in Singapore?
  9. [Timer] Alexa, set timer 1 minute.
  10. [Wake Up Call] Alexa, wake me up 6 hours later.
  11. [Buy Music] Alexa, buy this song.
  12. [Playlist] Alexa, add this song into my playlist.
  13. [Radio] Alexa, play Class 95 FM on TuneIn.
  14. [Volume] Alexa, volume 7

There are a whole lot of things I am slowly learning and discovering Alexa’s capability.

The best thing is, you do not have to press any button at all.  It is something like “Hey Siri”.

But it’s voice recognition is VERY IMPRESSIVE!  And its’ MIC is even more impressive.  I can speak to Alexa some 10-20 feet away.

While Alexa is playing loud music, Alexa still able to hear my next command.

That is impressive.


Philips Hue Light

And I also installed the Philips Hue lights too.

Two wireless light bulbs are installed at the bedside lamp.

So, I can program thru using IFTTT to ask Alexa to do a lot of strange thing with my Hue lights.

  1. [Change Colour] Alexa, trigger yellow lights —> IFTTT
  2. [Disco Colour] Alexa, trigger party lights —> IFTTT
  3. [Brightness] Alexa, dim bedroom (i.e. “bedroom” is my two Hue lights beside my bed)
  4. [Brightness] Alexa, brighten bedroom
  5. [Brightness] Alexa, bedroom 100
  6. [On/Off] Alexa, turn off bedroom
  7. [Instagram] When I post any thing on Instagram, it will change colour on my Hue lights according to the main colour found on Instagram.


One Step at a Time

One small step is a giant leap.

When, you think about home automation, you do not need to do everything today.  You got to slowly learn its capabilities.  See how devices interacts together.

I can now pair my iPhones, Apple Watch and even FitBit.  So, when I get near to Alexa, the lights turn to Blue, etc.  It is fun.  So much fun!

Here are two clips to show off Alexa’s capability.  It is amazing.  And I am going to add more things to it.  Next project will be adding a home automation hub supporting either Zigbee or Z-Wave on my cheap Raspberry Pi (I have many Raspberry Pi at home) and make it control something.

Now, enjoy these videos.



  1. I like your post. You are quite right, now is the time to build up a home automation ecology of your own. And you have made a pretty good start by the looks of it!

  2. Hi, for number 13. [Radio] Alexa, play Class 95 FM on TuneIn.
    Does it still work on your Echo?
    Was working fine on my Google Home, till couple of weeks back – seems like the only local radio station that works now is YES 933.

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