Local Audio Announcement Setup Bug

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Eric Roberts

Dec 27, 2020, 6:35:37 PM12/27/20
to Camect User Forum
I recently made the switch from Google Home devices back to Alexa devices for my home automation controls (the Amazon devices work far better and have many more useful features than the Google devices).

The one downside is that Camect cannot announce alerts via the Alexa devices like it can with the Google Home devices due to limitations of the Alexa system.

I do have a whole home sound system so I have been playing around with the new local audio announcements in order to remove the need for Google or Alexa devices altogether (the added benefit here is that the local announcements should work even without cloud connections).

The issue I'm running into is that I cannot set the time limits for these local audio announcements. Once you activate the speaker option and then go to click the Add Time Limit button, nothing happens. I tried this both in chrome and via the app I have on my iPhone, with the same result.

This functionality is something I really need in place to make full use of the local audio announcements (cant have the alerts being spoken across the entire house when everyone is sleeping).

I also wasn't sure if I needed to do the usual report bug thing from the app for this since it looks to be more of a UI issue than anything else but let me know if you do need something from me.

Hopefully its an easy fix.


Dec 27, 2020, 7:06:36 PM12/27/20
to Camect User Forum
I'm able to reproduce the problem. It looks like some sort of bug in the implementation of the time limits. We'll look into it more. 

Eric Roberts

Dec 27, 2020, 7:28:41 PM12/27/20
to CamectArup, Camect User Forum
Great thanks for the quick Reply Arup!

Eric Roberts

From: CamectArup <ar...@camect.com>
Sent: Sunday, December 27, 2020 4:06:35 PM
To: Camect User Forum <fo...@camect.com>
Subject: [Camect Forum] Re: Local Audio Announcement Setup Bug
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Dec 27, 2020, 9:51:07 PM12/27/20
to Camect User Forum, earobe...@gmail.com
We'll fix the bug in the next release.

I am curious what are these Alexa features that cause you to switch from Google Home?
Yeah, we tried to see whether we can play voice alerts on alexa devices. Seems no feasible ways for now..

On Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 3:35:37 PM UTC-8 earobe...@gmail.com wrote:

Eric Roberts

Dec 28, 2020, 1:14:15 AM12/28/20
to Camect User Forum, CamectChao
Just to make sure I clarify, the features that caused me to switch back are unrelated to Camect and are more related to general features and functionality for my larger smart home system.

I used Alexa for a couple years before switching over to Google Home. We gave Google home a try for the last year, so I have a pretty decent amount of time with both systems. I would also say that I have many more smart home devices that your average person (im at about the 150 devices currently) with many routines and automations I have programed via my Hubitat.

The features/functionality that are big ones for my smart home deployment, and why were moving back to Alexa, include things like two way communication (called drop in on Alexa. Google does have this broadcast thing, but its only a one way message and in my usage, even though your supposed to be able to broadcast to a single device, the message sent always went to all devices in the house), guard mode, better group/room organization within the application, better parental controls for devices in kids rooms, better application in general, the speed of commands to actions being executed is much quicker, etc.

Beyond all of that, the user experience of the Google Home devices has been sub par for my family. The voice recognition of the Google devices was terrible, both my wife and I would have to give commands multiple times before it would recognize the proper voice, and sometimes it would never recognize the voice at all so certain commands could not even be executed (like adding stuff to lists). No amount of deleting and relearning voice profiles made anything better.

In my opinion the only thing that the Google devices have over the Amazon devices is the ability to search the web for those random questions and facts the kids and wife like to ask and TTS. Alexa, in my experience, is better at everything else.

That's why I have started playing around with the local audio stuff today, because if I can find a better way to get the alerts from my cameras (which is the only TTS type of thing I need in my system) then I don't need to consider keeping a Google in the house to handle that part of it.


Dec 28, 2020, 1:38:47 AM12/28/20
to Camect User Forum, earobe...@gmail.com, CamectChao
Thanks for the detailed response! Yeah, I have the same feeling that Alexa's voice recognition and TTS are better than Google's.

M O Hamada

Dec 28, 2020, 4:07:59 AM12/28/20
to CamectChao, Camect User Forum, earobe...@gmail.com
Don’t mean to hijack thread but for those that are interested I have been using a workaround to get Camect announcements to work on Alexa devices (the moderators can disregard this post or place it in a more appropriate thread of its own as they deem what is appropriate). 

I have Camect integration with my Hubitat and Alexa. In addition, I also have them all integrated with my DSC security system via the Envisalink IP module (although the Envisalink integration is not really necessary for Camect announcements on Alexa). Hubitat is local control as is Camect and Envisalink. However, as you all know, Alexa requires Internet access to work. 

Camect integration in Hubitat allows for the IP cams in Camect to show up as devices in Hubitat. Virtual contacts can be configured in Hubitat which can be open and closed depending on object recognition in Camect. Hubitat integration with Alexa allows for these virtual contacts to trigger Routines in Alexa, which can be announcements on whichever Alexa devices you have. Because programming can be done using Hubitat Rules as well as via Alexa Routines, you can have announcements made on Alexa devices depending upon which cameras have detected objects, control which devices make announcements depending upon the time of day or other conditions (such as whether multiple cameras have detected the object etc.). In addition, since I have all integrated with my Envisalink IP communication module, I can have Routines in Alexa make Announcements that can also take into consideration whether or not the security system is armed or not armed, whether it is in Stay Home or Away armed states, and whether or not motion detectors have been activated along with the Camect object detection. The last is important since Camect may pick up a person in the front entry camera when that person in actually in the street (it may not always be possible to prevent false positives with Camect alone, but if the announcement is only triggered when both the Camect detects a person, and the motion detector is activated, false positives and false negatives are greatly reduced). The Camect integration reduces false positives due to outdoor motion detectors being overly sensitive to triggering due to temperature changes, shadows moving across the field (rustling branches etc) and of course adds object recognition.

As previously mentioned, everything except the Alexa is local so if your internet goes down, you will lose the announcements. In addition, there is sometimes up to a 3 second announcement lag time due to the Alexa server having to be accessed after processing the rule in Hubitat (although generally my experience has been that the announcement is made within 1 second of detection by Camect).

I have my system working now for about three months and currently have it programmed to announce when a person is detected on the front porch (for visitor or package delivery), or on the driveway, with a customized announcement for each depending upon the time of day, the arm state of the security system and the status of sunrise/sunset (i.e., if Camect and the motion detectors pick up a person, Alexa will announce the location of person, turn on the lights so the person knows they have been detected and light their way if the sun has set, and make the announcement on specific Alexa devices, at a specified volume, depending again upon security system armed status and time of day). Because I also have an outdoor speaker wired to a small amplifier wired to the speaker output of an Echo Flex device, when my Camect detects a person (and the corresponding outdoor motion detector is triggered to eliminate false positives), when the security system is in an Armed state, in addition to an announcement made on inside Alexa devices, the Exterior Speaker announces a warning to any potential “intruders” that they are being video recorded and to leave the premises. Hubitat allows me to program in that if they continue to trigger the system, subsequent exterior announcements get more aggressive, warning of a possible armed response.

The announcement system has been working well so far, with the only down time being when Amazon recently had a lag problem (for an hour or so) in their Alexa server system. I wish their was a way to do this programmable integration completely locally but so far no such luck in figuring this out. As this has been working well, I am further setting the system up so that more customized announcements can be made, for example, when a FedEx or Amazon truck is detected, and a person is subsequently detected (I have not had very good luck with Camect alone being able to detect “Amazon person” or “FedEx person” as I think the detection of uniforms is not so predictable at this time). 

Anyway, sorry for the long post but I hope this helps as a workaround for those interested since I understand that Alexa does not allow direct integration with Camect with regards to verbal announcements due to limitations on the API.

Sent from my iPad

On Dec 27, 2020, at 6:51 PM, CamectChao <ch...@camect.com> wrote:

We'll fix the bug in the next release.
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M O Hamada

Dec 28, 2020, 12:05:52 PM12/28/20
to rah...@gmail.com, Camect User Forum
Hi rahjer,
Integration does require some familiarity with Hubitat (how to load various apps onto it and familiarity of how to design “rules” (scripts) for specific Hubitat apps such as Rule Machine). It is not that difficult as I only got my Hubitat Elevation and Camect about five months ago so I did not have any experience with any of this until then. I am certainly not a “teckie” by profession, but I’ve been told I have a knack for problem solving and logical thinking (I teach at a major university in the medical/dental field). At any rate, a more step-by-step explanation of how my Hubitat, Alexa, Camect and security system are integrated as described in an email to the OP appears below:

Thank you very much for the details explanation! I didn’t realize there was an app for Camect on the Hubitat, I will have to check that out.

One thing I want to try and understand, let’s say I have Camect looking for a person and a dog on my drive way camera. Right now via the Google devices, I can get announcements for each individually OR together. For example, “Driveway camera just saw a person.” OR “Driveway camera just a saw a person and a dog.” In order to do this via Alexa, would I need a rule/routine for a person, rule/routine for a dog and a rule/routine for a person and dog together?

Any way you may be able to shot me screenshots of one of your rules in Hubitat and the associated routine you have set up in Alexa, just want an example to see how you have things laid out within the rules.

Thanks again for your help!

Eric Roberts

From: M O Hamada <mohcamects...@gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2020 12:12:29 AM
To: Eric Roberts <earobe...@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Hubitat/Alexa Integration With Camect
Hi Eric,
It is not a custom program. I have the Camect Connect app as well as the Amazon Echo Skill app loaded into my Hubitat Elevation (no Rasberry PI necessary as they can both be loaded directly into the Hubitat). When you do this, each of your IP cams will show up in your Hubitat Devices list as Camect Motion and Alerting devices. You can set up a Camect Motion and Alerting device for each camera, and for each object you wish to be alerted for on that camera.
The next step is to set up Virtual Contacts with auto-off Switches for each of the “triggers” you will use for the various Routines you will set up in Alexa for each announcement and/or action you wish your Alexa device to carry out. 
Then go to Rule Machine in Hubitat and set up the If-Then rules used to trigger the rule, and the Virtual Switch it will trigger. 
The Amazon Echo Skill app in Hubitat will allow you to select the Hubitat devices (including the Virtual Contact Switches you created in Hubitat) that will become visible in Alexa. 
In Alexa, enable the Hubitat skill so that your Hubitat devices which you set up in Hubitat (the cameras and virtual switches) will show up in the Alexa App. 
Finally, set up Alexa Routines for each announcement you wish Alexa to make using the specific Virtual Switch you made in Hubitat as the Routine “WHEN” trigger. For the Routine action, the first action I set is to set the volume of the Alexa device (in my case an Echo Dot, Flex or Show) followed by the Announcement (such as “Motion has been detected on the Driveway”). Depending on the specificity of the “trigger” you set, (you have to set up a Virtual Contact Switch in Hubitat for each particular Alexa Announcement you wish to hear) you can set up some very complex conditions in Rules in Hubitat. In other words, you need to set up an Alexa Routine for each Announcement. 
Finally, in Alexa, you can specify which Alexa devices will enunciate the Announcement (you can designate any combination or all of them depending upon your specific needs). Because some smarthome devices cannot be directly controlled by Hubitat (such as some smart lights and switches) one advantage of integrating Hubitat, Camect and Alexa is that you can use Alexa to also control Alexa controllable devices using Camect’s excellent object recognition capabilities as triggers (so you can use Camect triggers to control lights etc in addition to making announcements).
As I noted in my previous email, I also have my security system integrated so that I can combine motion detectors and contact switches with Camect object recognition to increase the accuracy or specificity of any action or announcement. For example, you can have a special announcement when your garage door is open and a person is detected in your driveway by Camect and confirmed with a motion detector (decreases false positives from people walking in front of the driveway on the sidewalk etc if you have trouble setting up precise detection zones in Camect). Or, you can set your announcement/action to trigger if either Camect OR the detector triggers if you want a very sensitive system that will work unless both systems fail.
Of course the big downside is that for Alexa to work, you have to have internet access and it is a bit tedious to set up a Virtual Contact Switch in Hubitat and an Alexa Routine for each and every variation of announcement or action you want Alexa to perform in response to a Camect trigger.
I do wish there was a way to do this completely locally but given how well it has worked so far for me, and how incredibly flexible and adaptable/customizable the integrated system is, this will have to do (at least for me). 

BTW, because of the new Camect Home Alexa Skill, I was able to use the same techniques above to use a Camect object detection to trigger a Rule in Hubitat, which would trigger a Virtual Contact Switch, which would trigger an Alexa Routine that would turn on my FireTV and bring up the live feed of the triggering camera on the FireTV via Camect Home. 
I can also bring up Camect Home via an Alexa Routine using a voice command (my FireTV when linked to Alexa serves as a large 55” Echo Show). Although the new Camect Home Alexa Skill allows you to call up individual cameras using their voice command “open Camect Home and view camera (insert camera name)” I have found this is not so good for the WAF. Instead, I set up Alexa routines for each camera with the voice command “view (insert camera name” and the Alexa Routine (under Custom Action text) calls up the Camect Home app and displays that camera. I can also give Alexa a voice command to open the Camect local IP address so that it will show the live view of the first four cameras together on one screen (something I have not been able to get the Camect Home Skill to do directly). Hopefully, Camect will have an update to do this through the Camect Home Skill directly as it would be simpler.
Anyway, hope you guys find these workarounds helpful.

Sent from my iPhone

> On Dec 27, 2020, at 10:22 PM, Eric Roberts <earobe...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Good evening,

> I saw your reply to my bug report today in the Camect user forums. For some reason in the actual thread, I couldn't see or reply to your message so I hope it's ok I'm reaching out to you directly.

> I also use Hubitat as my main smart home controler so I am VERY interested to know more about the Hubitat/Alexa/Camect integration you mentioned.

> I would love to know how to set this up within my system as well so that I can get this flexibility within my system, it sounds exactly like what I have been hoping/waiting for.

> Is this a custom Hubitat integration that you have written? Any additional details you can give me would be awesome!

> Thanks in advance,
> Eric Roberts

Sent from my iPad

On Dec 28, 2020, at 8:29 AM, rah...@gmail.com wrote:

M O,

For all of us non teckies who would like to get the most valuable use from our Camect would you like to explain how you have your Camect with the Hubitat and Alexa set up?

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