You've got a long list of options if you want to control your smart-home gear with Alexa-powered voice commands. Now, that list includes the high-end home automation service Crestron, complete with scene controls that'll let Alexa control different kinds of devices all at once.
Those scene controls are a new trick in Alexa's toolkit. Until recently, Amazon's voice-activated virtual assistant could control individual lights and thermostats, as well as groups of the same devices, such as multiple light bulbs or a collection of switches. What she couldn't do was launch scenes that trigger different kinds of gadgets to do different things.
That changed this week, though, and Crestron, which offers unified controls for a wide range of smart gadgets and audio visual gear, is one of several names taking advantage (others include Lutron, Philips Hue and Control4).
To get started, just ask Alexa to enable the Crestron skill or turn it on in the Alexa app on your Android or iOS device. From there, you'll be able to ask her to run any of your preprogrammed Crestron scenes. For instance, a "good night" scene could turn your electronics off, dim the lights and set the thermostat to your preferred sleeping temperature.
In addition to those native Alexa scene controls, Crestron is offering an additional customized element to its skill. The idea is that you'll be able to tell Alexa how you're feeling -- "It's too dark in here" or "I'm too hot," for instance. From there, Alexa will respond accordingly and brighten the room or crank up the AC.
Speaking at Amazon's keynote address at the CEDIA 2016 tech expo, Crestron VP John Clancy went on to describe how users can customize the way those custom interactions work based on when they're running them. For instance, if a user tells Alexa that it's too dark in the evening, she'll turn on the lights. If they use the same command during the day, she'll open the blinds.
The trade-off with those customized commands is that they aren't native to Alexa's programming, so you'll need to add some extra verbiage to your command so that she knows what skill to access. Specifically, you'll need to say "tell Crestron" before each command, as in "Alexa, tell Crestron it's too dark in here."
Crestron's Alexa skill is expected to go live by November. We'll stay tuned and let you know if we get a chance to test it out in the CNET Smart Home.