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Smart Home

A smart home with a voice: SmartThings adds support for Amazon Echo

A new integration with the popular smart speaker means you'll now be able to control your SmartThings gadgets by talking to 'Alexa.'

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It's been less than a month since Amazon released a software development kit (SDK) for Echo, its smart, voice-controlled speaker. That SDK is like a set of blueprints on how to program an outside device to work directly with Echo -- now, the SmartThings connected home system is jumping on board.

The brand made the announcement via blog post, as initially reported by Dave Zatz of zatznotfunny.com. The integration comes weeks before the arrival of the second-gen SmartThings Hub , which is currently available for preorder. SmartThings claims the integration will work with both the original hub and the new one.

The integration makes a lot of sense for both parties. For Amazon, it helps boost Echo's smart-home credibility; with SmartThings, it strengthens the brand's claim to a central spot in the connected home discussion.

Essentially an Internet-connected speaker with a voice-activated AI named "Alexa" housed inside, Amazon Echo is capable of streaming music, reading headlines and answering simple questions. Earlier this year, Amazon debuted integrations with Belkin WeMo Switches , Philips Hue connected LEDs and Wink Hub-compatible smart light bulbs -- those integrations allow users to turn things on and off simply by asking Alexa to do it.

You'll get similar connected-home control with the SmartThings integration, with Alexa taking charge of SmartThings-compatible lights and switches, along with anything plugged into a SmartThings Power Outlet. Like with Echo's earlier integrations with Philips Hue, you'll be able to dim your smart bulbs to a specific percentage, as demonstrated in the video below. Deeper integration could come via SmartThings Labs, a program that certifies smart home solutions developed by SmartThings' robust and active community of automation hobbyists.

Aside from working with a wide variety of third-party smart-home gadgets, SmartThings is one of the more stable and established platforms currently available for connected homes. It's certainly in better shape than Wink, which saw its CEO step down earlier this month following an embarrassing hub recall and reports of financial woes.

Aside from the SmartThings news, Amazon also quietly rebranded its Echo app as the "Amazon Alexa" app. That might indicate that we'll be seeing more of Alexa in the near future, including in devices other than Echo. Alexa's programming is up for grabs in that SDK, meaning that a third-party manufacturer could presumably build its own Alexa-powered device. More likely is that we'll see Alexa turn up in other Amazon products, perhaps in the next Kindle or Fire TV.

If you already use both SmartThings and Amazon Echo in your home, you can start syncing everything up today -- instructions on how to do so are posted here.