Episode 196: The holiday Q&A extravaganza!

This week Kevin and I took some time off to prepare for the CES and get ready for 2019. It’s going to be awesome! But we can’t leave you guys without a show, so we selected almost a dozen listener questions from the IoT Podcast Hotline and tried to answer them. You’ll learn about some in-ceiling speaker mounts for Alexa or Google devices, turning lights off after a motion-detection event turns them on and two requests that the Amazon Alexa team should listen for because they’d make good features.

We get so many questions about Alexa, y’all.

We also gave some advice and opinions on popular DIY smart home programs, mesh Wi-Fi systems and our favorite outdoor temperature systems. We had a caller who wanted advice on the best ways to get middle schoolers working with Alexa, and Kevin was happy to share his tips. We also had someone trying to outfit a long driveway with some kind of detection system for their smart home. All in all, we learned a lot researching this episode and are in awe of your ideas and methods for making your homes smarter. There is a long tail of needs out there that we hope we helped with a bit.

This entire voicemail effort, plus the locks that our questioners are able to win each month are made possible by our sponsorship from Schlage. Kevin and I would like to thank Schlage for its support over this last year. And a big thanks to all of our listeners who send dozens of questions each month. We’ll keep trying to answer as many of them as we can.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Sponsor: Schlage

Published by

Stacey Higginbotham

I am a journalist who has covered technology for over a decade at publications such as Fortune, PCMag, Gigaom, The Deal and BusinessWeek.

2 thoughts on “Episode 196: The holiday Q&A extravaganza!”

  1. Hello, you can actually have Alexa announce sensor status changes.

    For example Alexa announces when my back door opens.

    To do this,
    First I have my SmartThings and Alexa linked so that my ST devices show up in the Alexa apps.

    With my sensors now available on the Alexa app I do the following:

    01. Create a new Routine in the Alexa app

    02. Tap “When this happens”
    03. Tap Device > Choose a sensor (ex Back Door Sensor) > Then State (ex Open) > Save
    04. Set Condition (ex Anytime)
    05. Tap Add action > Alexa Says > Custom > Phrase (ex “Back Door Open”) > Next > Add
    06. Tap the “From” drop down list and select the device that Alexa will respond from
    07. Tap Save
    Bobs your uncle. Now Alexa will announce your sensor state.

    That’s the skinny there are several options you can configure within these basic steps so you an customize the routine to fit your use case.

    My only minor complaint is the slight lag between the trigger and the announcement. Internet and LAN traffic will effect the lag time. Not much you can do about that but it’s a minor issue.

    Also I might add that the announcement will be as loud or quiet as the volume setting you last used on your echo.

    Hope that helps. Written on my phone, please forgive any typos.


    1. You won my heart with the phrase “bobs your uncle” And I can’t believe I missed this functionality while I was setting up routines. We’re going to do a do-over of this question because I am so frustrated that I missed it. Thank you!!!!

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