Home Automation

Robot Vacuum Review


This video is about my new Robot Vacuum. But it’s not really about the robot vacuum. Confused? It’ll make sense in a couple minutes.

Occasionally I get requests to review products. I actually say ‘no thanks’ to most of them. But when someone offered me a robotic vacuum I remembered what my gran-papy used to say “If someone offers you a robot vacuum, you say yes!”

Turns out this is actually a pretty nice robot vacuum. It’s the Proscenic 811gb. It does pretty much everything you expect from a robot vacuum in 2018. With the app, you can schedule when you want it to start. You can specify a couple different cleaning modes. And you can even control it manually, like an RC car. It cleans well if you can get it to stay in the area you want cleaned. I just can’t make sense of the logic it uses to decide where to clean. But that’s no different than other robot vacuums as far as I know. Seems like it goes over the same area all the time and ignores other nearby areas. The Zig zag mode seems to make the most sense. My favorite part is that it can return to the charging station on it’s own. Depending on how far it has wandered it sometimes takes a while for it to get home. It’s kinda weird how much fun it is just to watch it work. Overall, it’s a nice little vacuum.

Now, I can’t just do a video about a product and not somehow make it relevant to Home Automation enthusiasts. I asked the manufacturer if we could get access to the app in some way that would allow control of the device with HA… They said no. That’s too bad. If you want to see how a real hacker adds HA control to a Robo Vac, check out Rob’s video.
I thought of a different work-around for controlling the vacuum with Home Assistant. And this little trick lets me talk about one of my favorite things to do with HA, Text to Speech.

Proscenic works with Alexa. To connect it, you just install the Proscenic “skill” on the Alexa app or website. Then you have these voice commands you can give your robot. Excellent! So if I say those commands to Alexa, she’ll send them to the robot, but what about when I’m not home? Yep, you guessed it. I’m going to tell Google Home, to tell Alexa, to tell my robot vacuum to start cleaning! I’m sure you saw that coming.

In Home Assistant you can send Text to Speech messages to your media players. I only have 2 devices that accept text to speech commands. My Google Chrome Cast Audio, and my Google Home Mini. I think it works with Sonos speakers too, but I don’t have one to test. Sadly, as of right now, you can’t send text to speech to Alexa 🙁

Text to speech is pretty fun. I use it just to send messages to the kids and Mrs Zzs when I’m not home. HA auto-discovers the google devices and gives you this little box to type your messages in. So if I just want to announce something to the family, I just type the message here. That’s fun, but to make tts really useful we need to include it in some automations.
For example, I have one tts automation that tells me if my car isn’t charging at 10pm.

Example 1:
– alias: Leaf not charging
initial_state: true
trigger:
– platform: time
at: ’22:00:00′
condition:
– condition: state
entity_id: device_tracker.justin_iphone7
state: not_home
– condition: state
entity_id: binary_sensor.adensville
state: unplugged
action:
– service: tts.google_say
data:
entity_id: media_player.adenaudiocast
message: “It’s 10pm and daddy’s car isn’t plugged in”

You could also use it to ask someone to shut the door if it’s been left open.
Example 2:
– alias: ‘Back Door Open’
trigger:
– platform: state
entity_id: binary_sensor.kitchen_door
from: ‘off’
to: ‘on’
for: ’00:05:00′
action:
– service: tts.google_say
data:
entity_id: media_player.adenaudiocast
message: “Can someone please close the backdoor?”

Or as a warning when motion is detected.
Example 3:
– alias: Garage Robber Warning
hide_entity: true
initial_state: ‘on’
trigger:
– platform: state
entity_id: binary_sensor.garage_motion
to: ‘on’
condition:
condition: or
conditions:
– condition: sun
after: sunset
– condition: sun
before: sunrise
action:
– service: tts.google_say
data:
entity_id: media_player.adenaudiocast
message: “Hello. You are Trespassing. Smile for the camera!”

For TTS to work, you need an entry in your config.yaml
If you used the example config file with Hassio this line is probably already there. If you want to use a different language this is where you specify it.
https://cloud.google.com/speech-to-text/docs/languages
HA only accepts the first two letters of the language code.

There are other TTS engines you can use besides Google. Most of them are not free. Microsoft has one that lets you change a lot of different parameters if you want to get wild and crazy.

(Google Home Tells Alexa to Tell clean bot to start cleaning)

For the Grand Finale….
Well that’s it. Pretty cool robot vacuum and a very creative way to get it incorporated into Home Assistant

Until next time
Adios!

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