Using your voice to control your lights is fun! In Domoticz the first and best way to achieve this is to use Controlicz. For this article we interviewed Nick, the creator of Controlicz. We have spoken with him about his motivations to start with Controlizs, what it does and why it is needed in the world of home automation.
Who is the man behind Controlicz?
Nick: “Ok, so I am from the UK – I’ve worked in IT for over 25 years, mostly in the Finance industry, I’m now an architect for a large IT services company. I like football, have three kids, and got into Home Automation to stop my kids leaving the lights on all day!”
Can you tell us something about Controlicz?
“Controlicz provides voice controls for Domoticz. It allows you to control your lights, switches, thermostats and blinds with your voice. And it provides a secure platform for integrating with the two leading voice automation services, Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa.”
“Controlicz evolved over the last two years, initially with the original Alexa skill.” See github for more information: https://github.com/madgeni/alexa_domo
“This was pure open-source, with documentation on setup and control. However, there was a lot of effort and knowledge necessary to host and run (using AWS lambdas, running a fake token service etc) it that the level for use was quite high, and I spent a lot of my time supporting the individual implementations, rather than evolving the functionality.”
“So Controlicz was born. I wanted to provide a service for everyone, regardless of their technical expertise, with the focus on being able to use Alexa and Google as a natural extension of Domoticz, with little effort, all for a very small fee.”
Is my data safe in Controlicz?
“Controlicz runs on clustered servers, with a MongoDB backend. Data stored on your behalf is hashed. It was a deliberate design decision for me not to be able to interact with your passwords. If you lose it, only you can create a new one. I store no device data, and have put in additional steps to ensure you protect yourselves: enforced HTTPS, Room Plans etc to increase security and control.”
“In order to provide a native Alexa skill, AWS (and now Google Home) require you to provide account linking. This is the means of linking you as a person, to a Token which provides the right level of privileges for Alexa to interact.
Controlicz handles the OAUTH2 service, providing tokens, expiring them and creating new ones, seamlessly on your behalf. This process means that interactions are secure, and private. No one can access your resources without your token, and all calls to Alexa and Google are encrypted in transit.”
Then came Google
“Functionality available within Alexa has grown steadily over the last two years, but with the advent of the Google Home, this has accelerated.
Getting Controlicz working with Google was a challenge. Initially Google didn’t understand the wider Home Automation community, and focussed heavily on hardware manufacturers, but through persistence, Controlicz became the first non-hardware manufacturer native Smart Home App, even making a brief appearance at this year’s IO event.
As expected, Google and Alexa behave differently and have different expectations on services interacting with them, Controlicz bridges both, allowing you to use both Alexa and Google Home/Assistant in the same house, seamlessly.”
The Future of Controliz
“Controlicz is constantly evolving – improving handling, reducing latency, and building for the future, I spend at least 2 days a week (most evenings, and some parts of the weekend) actively working on it, as well as aiming to speedily respond to any questions on the Domoticz forum, or emails.
Both Alexa and Google have roadmaps, which I am lucky enough to have sight of, and so am exploring new functionality all the time.
Native Blinds are finally coming soon, along with the ability to ‘Open/Close’, as well as real-time updates and notifications for devices. So if a motion sensor is triggered, you’ll soon be able to implement routines and notifications from Alexa or Google Home.
Selector Switches are now live in Google, and will be coming to Alexa as soon as possible.
The voice future is here, and I want you to enjoy using it with Controlicz.”
Extra information about Controlicz
When you want to learn more about Controlicz there are plenty of resources to check out. Of course there is the Official Controlicz website. Here you can find more information about the service and consult the official documentation.
Next to that, a number of topics on Controlicz assist you on the Domoticz forum. Here, Nick and other Domoticz member help you with your issues and answers your questions regarding Controlicz. Make sure to check out both the
Controlicz Google Home and Controlicz Alexa topics.
A good example of the use of Controlicz is the case where we use it to control our Xiaomi Vacuum. Read our article.
Alternatives for Control Domoticz with Voice.
One of the alternatives for Controlicz is Alexicz. This is not provided as a service which requires some labor to get and keep the application up and running.