Amazon Alexa Smart Home Skill - Call and response

Hi all,

I’ve been running the Amazon Alexa Smart Home Skill for a while and it’s been an absolute god send for family integration. My wife and daughter are now comfortable with my home automation as they in turn feel comfortable asking Alexa to do something, so massive thanks to the developers…

What I’d like to know is regarding Alexa’s call and response process.

At the moment when you ask Alexa a question she answers and then continues to listen for about 5 seconds so you can continue the conversation without repeating ‘alexa…’ everytime…a good example is:

Me: alexa, add milk to the shopping list
Alexa: Milk has been added to the shopping list

I now have a few seconds to continue speaking so I can say

Me: add butter to the shopping list

If I don’t say anything I’ve got to start the call and response again, ‘alexa, add xxxxx to the shopping list’ etc etc

I’d like to expand my openhab / alexa skill rules to be a bit more interactive, ie

At a certain time openhab sets a dummy item to ON, runs rule and skill
which prompts Alexa to announce a question / call and response
Alexa then listens to the yes / no answer
dummy item updated to ON / OFF via alexa routine - openhab skill
openhab rule runs accordingly

real life example:

OH receives request ‘heating boost’, runs a timer for 1 hour
OH sets dummy item to ON and sets timer for 60 minutes
at end of timer rule runs to prompt alexa to ask 'shall I turn off ‘heating boost’
call / response then either YES / NO
If YES, dummy item updated to OFF and OH rule turns off ‘heating boost’
If NO, dummy item stays as NO and OH resets timer - process loops again after 60 minutes

I’ve gone through the skill docs and it seems that at present it allows commands, ie ‘turn x on’, ‘set temp to y’ rather than the call and response style…am I correct and do you think that this might be on the future release list?


You are correct. Any of the interaction examples you mentioned above are handled from the Alexa side before it reaches the skill. So Amazon will need to add support in their API before we can extend it in the skill.

One thing about timer, Amazon recently added support for thermostat hold duration scheduling which they could potentially extended to other controllers in the future. However, the skill wouldn’t be able to support these requests in its current implementation as these are only processed on real time user events. The ability to support deferred scheduled events would fall under the asynchronous enhancement.

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Awesome, thanks for replying…I’ll await Amazon catching up with us :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Just following on from this, I’ve started using the Alexa Lists function and wondered if there was a way to feed it things from OH / use it to run rules somehow. (ie when x added to list notify me / flash a light / etc…)

I’ve done some research and it seems possible

But I have very little skill in OH binding creation and, not wanted to pass the buck, would this be something that would sit within this binding? To be able to retrieve / add to / poll these Alexa lists from within OH would be amazing…

As far as I know, there is no concept of list item in OH. So there is no standard way to integrate the use-case you are describing. How would you envision an Alexa list being configured on the OH end?

I would think this is something the Amazon Echo Control binding may be able to support without the need to go through the Alexa skill. However, it will ultimately depend on what the OH item integration consensus will be.


I’d thought of many different options for the list, from OH rules:

‘on new item added to Alexa list run a rule to do something with it / send email / copy to google / add to calendar etc etc’

‘On command / switch / dummy item tell Alexa list to loop each line and email the list to me’

‘At certain part of day / week / month (controlled by OH rule), add something to the list, (I’m thinking tablets / things we use weekly / monthly etc).

I also thought of something a little different in terms of a custom list that OH could add to when something happened that needed recording. A rule run, a camera alert, anything really but OH could run a rule ‘of this happens then do that and also add a new line to list x’.

Not exclusive but that sort of thing is what I’d been thinking of.

I still think the Amazon Echo Control binding would be the best place to have the features you are listing including an Alexa list thing type and a bunch of channels to control that list.

Anyway, some of the actions you listed can be automated with Amazon Alexa IFTTT service. Also, you should take a look at the List Assistant skill.

Thanks, I’ll go and post something similar into the Echo Control thread…I know I can use IFTTT but I’m trying to keep everything within OH where possible…