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I think Amazon may have screwed us
Looking at the Amazon skill stuff, I think that maybe they have screwed folks like us who need to have a lot of flexibility. They got rid of the 'literal' slot type, which would let us just get some spoken words within an overall utterance and use the rendered text of those words for whatever we want on our side. Now it appears like you must provide pre-fab options for all slots, which makes it semi-useless for a lot of applications, ours included I think. It makes it impossible to have the sort of on the fly flexibility that really gave the Echo an advantage over something like CQC Voice (which can at least generate a grammar on the fly for you that includes your room configuration driven stuff.)

Or at the least I won't be able to provide you with nearly as useful pre-fab content to use. You'll have to set up all the options for these types of slots yourself and you won't be able to have any sort of on the fly text available to react to.
Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum
TBH I've been dying to ditch the Echo, esp with the barrage of recent news about it. Can't remember why I never got further with CQC Voice, I even got one of those fancy nice microphones. Maybe i'll take another run at it.
Some of my devices: Sonos, Aeotec zWave, Nest, Rain8Net, Various H/T
What's next: CQC-Voice, Brultech GEM
My vlogs:
I unplugged all of my Echos. I finally was able to get a working internet at the new house and unfortunately, it is metered. At base rates, at 15gb, it throttles to like 700k, which is still better than HughesNet's satellite service but less than I want. I hooked it up and in less than a week, we used well over the 15gb. Investigation showed each Echo chattering constantly. They had not even been used during the week in question. Our phones can do exactly the same thing without metering (and presumably without listening when the app is not running) so they are probably gone.

I am interested in other voice options but touch screens and phones will do for me.
CQC Voice is another option, but it may or may not be acceptable to you compared to the Echo. You'll need to get a mic array, of which this compone is one of the few selling reasonably priced ones:

The 1 version (the first one) they told me was probably a better choice for us since it's just as good on the bits we care about and the rest of the price difference is niceties.

It would probably also work better still if you ran it through a compressor first, to reduce dynamic range substantially, but you could try it first as is. The 1 version has an analog output so you can run it through other processing before the computer. The 2 version is USB.

When I test CQC Voice here, I just use my regular LDC mic that I use for making videos. But that only works when it pretty close. However, I find that the compression, EQ, and noise gating that I use as part of the audio input chain allows me to use it considerably further way that would normally work well. I'm guessing that such things would also significantly benefit an array mic as well.

The mic probably has some rudimentary digital processing of that type on-board. But getting low frequency rumble and high frequency noise out of the signal before it even hits the mic (none of which is ever voice content, which mostly lives in the mid-range) and then some fairly heavy handed compression to even out the dynamic range, that has to be quite helpful. I also use a noise gate, but that probably wouldn't be nearly as important in this type of application.

The mic itself has echo cancellation which is important as well, and of course does the usual mic array thing of creating a pointable virtual cardiod mic pattern to help reject off axis sound from what it sees as the loudest source. Of course that can work against you if the environment is experiencing spikes of sound louder than your voice commands.

There are also some DIY things that you have put together yourself and find an enclosure for and all that, and maybe also find mics for. I have no idea how well they work for this type of thing.
Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum
(05-02-2019, 08:23 AM)zaccari Wrote: ...I finally was able to get a working internet at the new house and unfortunately, it is metered.  At base rates, at 15gb, it throttles to like 700k...

I'm curious, who is the provider? I'm about to move & I may not be able to get any form of wired broadband...
Mark Stega
(05-02-2019, 12:08 PM)Mark Stega Wrote: I'm curious, who is the provider? I'm about to move & I may not be able to get any form of wired broadband...
Verizon Wireless sells a device called AtHome which is essentially a MiFi with a network port on the back.  My understanding is that Sprint sells the exact same thing but we do not have coverage for that in the area.  It gets >4M as long as you position it with reasonable coverage (and keep under the 15GB throttle point).  I understand that they may sell plans for more but I absolutely refuse to pay extra when each Verizon device has it's own similar throttle point and each phone can be a hot spot for one person AV purposes.  With the Dish OTA adapter, I can hook any device that I can modulate, up to the main box and it will be broadcast to each Joey (remote location) around the house.  One of the modulators I looked at even even allows daisy-chaining so you can have multiple HDMI inputs.  I'm not really sure why I would need a matrix switch as each device in the house can then watch whichever input they want on another channel.
Quote:Used as a standalone unit or multiple modulators chained together for creating more private TV channels. No combiner needed.
While all the reasons for the comments above are understood - I too was on a metered satellite internet with only 50Gb/month for a family of four (two school kids), we are not the norm - its not the case for everyone

Privacy concerns are up to the user. There is nothing I say at home that anyone would be interested in.


CQC not having a working Echo integration I believe is a bad thing. It is the norm these days for smart devices and smart homes.

Using the CQC Voice option is just not going to cut it in most cases. The Echo and Home do more than just control your devices. I see mine being used constantly for timers, advice on food suitable for dogs and other small trivial things. Mine works for everything but CQC because of how CQC works with AWS and needing a port opened which I can not do on my current internet. The mic Dean links to is like 7 times the price of an echo dot here. 7 dots can fill the house easily, one mic, that is ugly as sin (bad form factor for home use) is not going to cut it in a larger house.
Mykel Koblenz
Illawarra Smart Home
I haven't gone in and tried to modify my echo setup in years, and it still works fine. Am I grandfathered in?
We could still have Echo support, but not the really flexible kind we have now. The support most folks have is really trivial 'voice driven remote control' type stuff. I'm not sure how worth doing that is.

Nothing we do is going to get rid of the need for the opened port. AWS has to be able to connect back to your system to pass the command on to you. The only way around that is to for you to have another server out there that CQC connects to and your AWS skill connects to, to act as a junction between them. Otherwise, AWS has to connect back to your system.
Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum
(05-02-2019, 04:44 PM)kblagron Wrote: I haven't gone in and tried to modify my echo setup in years, and it still works fine. Am I grandfathered in?

Any existing skills continue to work, you just can't create new ones that use the LITERAL slot type.
Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum

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