question

NikonGuy avatar image
NikonGuy asked

Possible to send Serial strings through RS232 or SSL for older Home Automation systems?

My goal is to tie Alexa in with non-cloud based home automation systems. I deal with traditional dealer installed lighting automation systems from companies like Lutron and Vantage which have a very rich set of host commands that allow them to respond to commands from other Audio Video systems like Control 4, Cresteron, HAI, Savant, ELAN, etc. A lot of these are hardwired systems and integration is done through traditional RS-232 ports, or through Ethernet via Telnet or SSL serial strings.

These are very simple - in the case of Lutron Homeworks, you'd send a command like "KBP <address>" and it would simulate a key button press for a particular keypad button. Vantage does a similar thing and as long as the main processor is on the home network and has a local IP address, any other device on the home network can reach them so RS-232 is usually reserved for things like shade controllers or older devices.

So anyway, I want to know if there is a way to accomplish this via the Echo. In other words, is there a way to tell Echo to "Echo, turn on the kitchen lights" and have Echo use the LAN (not the cloud) to send a string command to a local IP address with the commands for that particular automation system?

Currently, only Lutron's Caseta system which was born on the cloud can work with Echo, but trust me, there are 100's of thousands of existing systems (older Radio Ra, new Radio Ra2, Vantage Qlink, Vantage Infusion, Lutron Homeworks, shades, pool equipment, TV's, et. etc. etc) that could benefit from the ability to send string commands to them.

alexa voice serviceautomation
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Eric@Amazon avatar image
Eric@Amazon answered

Right now, Alexa requires a cloud-based connection. When the user speaks an invocation like, "Ask my awesome home automation system to open the shades", Alexa needs some way to tell the Skill what to do. And the only way it can find the skill is if it is cloud-accessible. It can't work purely over LAN. A solution that could work (guaranteed, since it's the solution I use) is to build a small device that can control everything.

Once you have that device, there are 2 paths forward. Either:

  • That device runs a server which is accessible to Alexa, or
  • That device talks to a server via some method (say, long polling), which means that it doesn't have to be visible externally.

But there does have to be a cloud component. Whether that's running on the small device and is visible outside your LAN, or whether there's a cloud server that the small device talks to (say, by long polling), Alexa needs a way to talk to it. Hope that helps!

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Enado avatar image
Enado answered

We have already solved this problem with the Enado Home Automation Controller using currently IFTTT. If you search for Enado and Alexa you will find the relevant information. Enado also integrates with Lutron Homeworks

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