Logitech is becoming the latest tech company to embrace Amazon Alexa’s voice-controlled smarts, with the news that it is now allowing its customers to control their home entertainment through the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.
The integration lets owners of Logitech’s Harmony hubs access a new Alexa skill that enables them to turn on their TV; adjust the volume; activate a specific TV app, such as Netflix; and listen to music — all by using their voice. It is initially only available in the U.S., with the U.K. arriving in the “coming months.”
To activate the new Alexa skill for Logitech Harmony devices, open the Alexa app and head to “Smart Home” in the main menu, and then “Get More Smart Home Skills.” You can then manually search for “Harmony — Optimized for Smart Home” and enable the skill. Then, you’ll be able to say something like “Alexa, turn on Netflix,” “Alexa, turn on Apple TV,” or “Alexa, turn off the PS3” with your hands tucked firmly in your pockets.
It’s also worth noting here that Logitech’s Harmony hubs let you pre-configure and define a set of actions that constitute a single activity. For example, your Wednesday evening ritual may be to dim your lights, activate your smart blinds, and turn on the soccer on TV. Or every morning you may open your smart blinds and turn on the radio through your Sonos speakers. Whatever the combination you’ve set up through Harmony, you can now control the series of actions with a single voice command, such as “Alexa, turn on my morning activity.”
“This new capability is both practical and fun for our users,” said Renee Niemi, general manager of the smart home business at Logitech. “We’ve been working closely with Amazon to deliver robust voice control of your smart home using a Harmony hub-based remote and an Alexa-enabled device — and if you don’t have Harmony yet, just say ‘Alexa, order a Harmony Hub’ and have one delivered.”
As Amazon ramps up its efforts with Echo and Alexa through a seemingly never-ending influx of skills and the recent launch of the smart speaker in Europe, Google is gearing up to launch its own version of the device. Priced at $129, Google Home will be available in early November — pretty much two years to the day since Amazon first announced the Echo.