If you have an Amazon Echo device and are using it only to listen to songs or cricket scores, you are grossly underutilising its potential. It has much more power to make your life better, faster and smarter. The Echo device in your living room powered by Alexa on the cloud can render your house into a smart home with few simple add ons, and no, you don’t have to lose your entire Sunday rewiring gadgets nor do you to need to hire engineers to get them fixed.

Six ways to have an Alexa-powered smart home

lights: Feeling romantic? Just ask Alexa to change the light colours to red and dim it by 50%; flowers and chocolates not included! All you got to do is buy Philips Hue or Syska or similar range of bulbs that are compatible with Alexa Echo. These are absolutely simple yet most incredible feature to get started with smartening your home.

Control home appliances: Whether you are passionate about saving milliamperes of electricity by turning off gadgets not in use or simply love the warmth of the couch that stops you from getting up, Alexa has a solution. Get Veetar, Oakter or Pert ‘kits’ which are essentially a hub and bunch of smart sockets that can be retrofitted into existing plug points in your home to ‘smarten’ any home appliance. They connect to Alexa through the home’s wireless network to give you complete voice control over switches on which appliances are connected.

Maximise convenience: Don’t fret if you don’t own a smart TV or smart AC, buy a compatible IR Blaster like Oakter or Silvan and then command your TV to change channels, or AC to change temperatures. You can voice control any IR compatible device at home like set top box or music system through Alexa.

Set routines and beat the mundane: Routines synchronise actions between the smart home devices and Alexa, for tasks such as watering the lawn at a fixed time, or to turn on a pump at 4 am when you usually get water supply, etc. Routines also letsyou enable or disable a pre-fixed set of actions, for example, when you say “Alexa, sleep time”, it can dim the lights, turn on AC in bedroom and turn off the TV.

Stay secure with live feeds: If you have an Echo Sport device, the one with a cute display screen in it, then you can use it for inter-room calling or get a Ezviz Minior D-Link Mini camera to access video feed from another room to keep a check on a child or the elderly. You can also simple say, “Alexa, show my backyard” and check for any intruders through the live video feed.

Discover an existing smart product: ZigBee is global standard for connected devices and if you happen to own a Amazon Echo Plus device, it has a built-in hub that seamlessly connects and controls ZigBee smart devices. Just say “Alexa, discover my devices” and Echo Plus will discover and set up your ZigBee compatible devices. All major appliances makers such as Sony, Voltas, Philips, TP Link, WeMo, etc., are now launching Alexa compatible devices for home and work. Watch out for ‘Works with Alexa’ label on them.

The writer is co-founder, Agrahyah Technologies

Sreeraman Thiagarajan