I call the new feature idea “Location Context Sensitivity”. Basically the idea is to allow Alexa to control smart home devices based on where the Echo is located (e.g.: in what room).
Background: In my house I have over a dozen Echo devices in various rooms throughout the house. I also have fifty Insteon light switches, smart bulbs, and other smart home devices throughout my house.
My problem is that I cannot walk into a room and say “Alexa, turn on the lights”. The reason for this is that Alexa doesn’t know which lights I’m referring to. In order to have the lights under Alexa voice control I have to give each light a unique name such as “Bedroom Light”, “Kitchen Light”, “Bathroom Light”, etc. When I walk into a room I can control the light by saying something like “Alexa, turn on bedroom light”. But wouldn’t it be so much better if I could just say “Alexa, turn on the light”?
You can imagine that I’ve had to come up with some pretty unusual and/or lengthy names to uniquely name the myriad of lights/devices in my house. I can barely remember all the names myself. The real problem is for people who use the voice control less frequently like my wife. The problem is virtually insurmountable for visitors such as family and friends who are unfamiliar with the device names at all. I know if I had my sister staying in my guest bedroom she would think it was just so cool if she could walk in and say “Alexa, turn on the lights”. She can’t because she doesn’t know the name of the light is “Upstairs Guest Room Ceiling Lamp”.
This problem could be solved by adding a “location name property” to the Echo to specify where it is. This property could be manually set by the user during Echo setup/initialization.
Once set, this information could be used to give “location context sensitivity” to Echo user voice commands The “location name property” be sent back to the ISY (or other smart home controller) hub so that it could determine which device to control. For example, when a person says “Alexa, turn on the light” while they are in the upstairs guest bathroom, the Echo (located in the upstairs guest bathroom) would send a command to the hub to “TURN ON” + “UPSTAIRS GUEST BATHROOM” + “LIGHT”. No person would ever need to know the long name of the light or other device they are trying to control. They would merely say “Alexa, turn on the light”. The same principal could be applied to fans, thermostats, blinds, etc.
The idea could be further improved by having an Echo property for “Default Light Name”. That way, if a room had several lights (such as a main ceiling light, N-table lights, desk lamp, closet light, etc.), the default light to control when a user walks into the room and says “Alexa, turn on the light” would be known.
As Echo users have more and more Echo devices within their homes, cars, or on their bodies as wearable tech, the need for each Echo to know where it is becomes more and more important.