How to use SmartThings to have Alexa do something without speaking to it

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WARNING -WARNING - WARNING

In late April 2022, Samsung began the process of discontinuing the smart things groovy cloud, so you will no longer be able to use the IDE or groovy virtual switches. You will have to use an edge driver which runs on a smartthings/Aeotec hub. (We are still waiting to hear from smartthings about what people without hubs will be able to do.)

So disregard anything you find in the wiki or in the community forum that refers to a Groovy virtual switch. Those will no longer work soon.

END WARNING

As of November 2018, you can now use smartthings to automate Echo events without having to speak to an echo device. So you can use this to integrate with devices that echo can control but that are not available to smartthings and do not have an IFTTT channel. You can also use this to have echo speaker specific phrases when certain events happened, like the door opening or the laundry finishing.

It’s simple. 😎

To Control Devices

Anything which can be turned on/off in an echo routine (not a smartthings routine) Can now be controlled from smartthings.

That’s because an echo routine can now be initiated by a contact sensor opening or closing.

And smartthings allows you to create a virtual contact sensor which looks just like a real contact sensor to Alexa.

Even better, smartthings allows you to create a virtual device which looks like both a contact sensor and a switch to both smartthings and echo. When you turn the switch on, it makes the contact sensor look like it is open. When you turn the switch off, it makes the contact sensor look like it is closed.

So now you can turn that virtual switch on and off with any smartthings automation, including the official smart lights feature, that will make the virtual contact sensor look like it is open or closed, and that can trigger an echo routine.

Voila!

SmartThings control of anything which can be turned on/off in an echo routine. 😎 which now includes an Xbox.

Edge Driver for a Virtual Device which will Show Up as Both a Contact Sensor and a Switch

VEdge Creator

To Make Echo Speak a Custom Phrase or Play a Standard Sound Effect

You can use the same virtual device method to trigger an echo routine that will make echo speak a custom phrase. If you only need it to happen on one device, choose the “ Alexa says” action under the echo routine when you add a new routine. But if you want it to happen on multiple devices, choose the “Send Announcement“ action for the action when you add a new routine. You will then be able to choose specific echo devices or all echo devices to speak the announcement that you are going to trigger.

If you want a standard sound effect like a doorbell chime or dog barking, choose “Sounds” for the action.

Activating Your Virtual Device

To activate your virtual device so Alexa can use it, do the following steps:

1) create virtual device by downloading the appropriate Edge Driver, then configuring it through the smartthings app following the edge driver author’ instructions

2) use the Alexa app to disable the smartthings skill.

3) log out of the Alexa app.

4) log back into the Alexa app.

5) re-enable the SmartThings skill.

6) ask Alexa to discover new devices

Your virtual device should now be available to trigger an echo routine.

Official Amazon Help Page for Echo Routines

official Amazon support page

Triggering an Echo Routine with an Echo Button

We should also mention that as of November 10, 2018, Amazon echo buttons (two for $20, about the size of a deck of cards) can also trigger an echo routine. So you can press the button and have the echo routine turn on a virtual switch which then triggers pretty much anything you want in SmartThings. The button won’t be visible to smartthings, but it’s a nice alternative means of control if you already have an echo in that room.

Flic buttons are another button that can trigger an Echo routine.