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'Alexa, hit the lights': Amazon Echo adds Insteon support

A new Amazon-built integration for the Echo smart speaker brings Insteon's connected switches, lights and outlets under Alexa's control.

The standard version of Insteon's Hub -- now compatible with Amazon Echo.

Your Amazon Echo voice-activated smart speaker stands to get a bit smarter today, with the addition of new controls for Insteon's connected switches, sockets and lights.

Developed by Amazon as a direct Echo integration (the same approach the online retail giant took with Belkin WeMo and Philips Hue's connected home products), this means you'll be able to turn your Insteon gear on and off simply by talking to Alexa, the voice-activated, cloud-connected AI housed within the speaker. Tell "her" to turn an Insteon product on or off, and Amazon's cloud will pass the request to Insteon's cloud, which will then tell your gadgets to react accordingly. You can also tell Alexa to dim a light to a specific percentage, or you can group your gadgets in Amazon's Alexa app, then control them all at once with a single command.

It's not a wide-sweeping integration though. Support is limited to Insteon's "line voltage relay devices" -- essentially the stuff you turn on and off, like switches, outlets and the Insteon LED. You won't be able to control Insteon thermostats, nor will Alexa open Insteon-connected locks and garage door openers. I'm fine with those last two being left out -- voice-controlled home entry from an always-on, always-listening smart speaker in the living room or kitchen seems dicey from a security perspective.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You'll also only be able to control devices that are managed by the most recent version of the standard Insteon Hub, released in 2014. That's not to be confused with the recently-released Insteon Hub Pro, a HomeKit-compatible device that leans on Siri for voice controls, instead.

Alexa and Siri aren't the only voice-activated AI assistants that'll work with Insteon. In 2014, the brand announced broad support across Microsoft computers, tablets and phones -- including voice-activated Cortana controls. Clearly, Insteon thinks that spoken commands will play a central role in the connected home, enough so as to merit covering as many bases as possible.

Insteon's team tells me that the integration should be up and running by the end of the day today. To activate it, you'll need to authorize your Insteon Hub with Amazon -- you'll be able to do so directly from the Alexa app.

Here's the full list of Echo-compatible Insteon devices:

  • Dimmer Module
  • On/Off Module
  • Outdoor On/Off Module
  • LED Bulb (A19)
  • LED Bulb (PAR38)
  • Dimmer Switch
  • Dimmer Switch (1000W)
  • Dimmer Switch (2-Wire)
  • On/Off Switch
  • Dimmer Keypad
  • On/Off Keypad (connected load only)
  • Dimmer Outlet
  • On/Off Outlet (currently top outlet only)
  • Dimmer Micro Module
  • On/Off Micro Module
  • Dimmer In-Line Module
  • On/Off In-Line Module
  • Dimmer DIN Rail
  • On/Off DIN Rail