Controlling Box Via Amazon Echo

tobyjuggler

Member
Hi all, my guess is there have been questions about controlling the Humax via an Echo before, but my search didn't find any obvious ones. I have a Harmony Hub, so can use that, but I was wondering if anybody is looking to see if the Echo can control the box directly, or might be able to do so in the future. It was a thread elsewhere that has prompted this question, see here. I have no idea about programming, so could be well off the mark, but, is it possible with the release of an Alexa API, which could be added as a package to the custom firmware?
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
No. The remote control capabilities just simulate IR input and it is not stateful.
 

Mike2

Scrat
The Samsung Smartthings can control your Harmony but is so unreliable I can't really recommend buying it. That would give a link to Alexa.
 
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tobyjuggler

tobyjuggler

Member
The Samsung Smartthings can control your Harmony but is so unreliable I can't really recommend buying it. That would give a link to Alexa.
Alexa can already control the Harmony directly, I'm talking about controlling the Humax directly with Alexa, eg over your LAN. The link I posted talks about a new API being developed by Amazon for the Alexa which will allow an Alexa app to control compatible STB's.
 

kev7378

Member
I think it might be theoretically possible, maybe (there’s bound to be caveats and gotchas, limitation of the platform); but the amount of time and effort required could also be an issue… Anyway, I would assume an application providing such an interface might be possible using one of the following “methods”:

Option 1: Humax provide the interface (seems unlikely for older kit).

Option 2: Someone works out how to “inject” all needed “calls” into the humaxtv process to do all the needed things (example: “play this file: path to file”).

Option 3a: “Dead reckoning” using the IR package injection method. LOL. Not that I could get the IR package to work on mine (I didn’t need it, so I have not tried to figure out why).

Option 3b: “Dead reckoning” using an external IR device. LOL.

Option 4: Parts of option 2 combined with 3 if the calls for option 2 could not be fully determined. For example: If you _can_ “call” into the humaxtv process to start playback of a given file, then an IR method can be used to pause, stop and so on.

I imagine option 3 could be “cranky” and slow in practice!

Notes on Alexa/assistants in general:

I don’t think the “dot” is very good at distinguishing between audio sources (for example: you and the TV) when the audio is not passed through it (that’s been my experience); it seems fine when streaming music thru the dot itself (which would make it easier to "cancel" that from the mic input). Another issue I have noted is that it occasionally picks up weird stuff from the TV audio.

Human: “Alexa, play the latest episode of doctor who”
Alexa: “Okay, playing later with jools holland”
Human: “Alexa, stop”
Nothing…

That’s a contrived example based on trying to get it to play specific tracks in my music “library”. The dot doesn’t seem to be 100% reliable when it has lots of choices… and sometimes when it doesn't...

Alexa: “I am having difficulty understanding at the moment” (we had no broadband for four days where I live; Alexa was non-functional, of course, the whole time – that’s a major flaw in all these big co. assistants: they only work if there is an internet connection). I did a test with an android phone without using the Internet a year (maybe more) back, it could recognize what I was saying; much of the logic for these assistance could be locally programmed (“turn on the bedroom light”), only going to the Internet for Internet things; that’s what I would want… if only I had the time...
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
We don't know how to do option 2, and option 3 is impossible because there is no way of ensuring the dead reckoning always starts from a known base.
 

af123

Administrator
Staff member
It would probably be possible to hook RS up to Echo so that you could say things like "Tape Red Dwarf on Saturday night for me"
 

kev7378

Member
We don't know how to do option 2, and option 3 is impossible because there is no way of ensuring the dead reckoning always starts from a known base.
Yeah, the gotchas and caveats... :) agreed, I cannot think anyone has time to investigate 2. 3 I don't know, as long as the box is on: maybe (I am guessing without checking) some sequence (like BACK, BACK, BACK, EXIT, EXIT, EXIT, or something, using "current state awareness" to avoid certain pitfalls) will take you to a known state without "rebooting". On-box there does appear to be a fair amount of "current state awareness" available (hover over the webif and it says things like: watching this, playing that and so on; so this must (I assume) be available to other apps on the box/accessing the box via http?). Also, you can go "forward" (for example: press Media when playing and so on)? Who knows? Given the outstanding work folk have done with it... However, I still suspect 3 would be cranky and slow anyway! The effort required likely outweighs the rewards.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
When I experimented with that kind of thing, even just a few inputs via the ir package macro facility became unreliable.
 

MymsMan

Ad detector
The responsiveness of the Humax to IR inputs varies considerably depending on the number of files, phase of the moon and what else is going on so it would be difficult to time a long sequence of commands in the absence of any feedback to determine what is actually being displayed on screen.
 

Mike2

Scrat
But why would you want to use Alexa anyway when you have a Harmony remote? Who wants a box sat in their lounge listening to every word spoken, waiting for those magic words? Same for Siri and the rest.

If you have a Harmony hub sat in front of your system, you only need communicate with that, via a remote or Alexa or whatever.
 
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