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Alexa Bossing Around More Systems

More than 3 million Amazon Echos have been purchased since the product shipped in late 2014, and almost 20 percent of purchasers use it to control home-automation devices via Alexa, Amazon’s Cloud-based personal digital assistant.

That’s what research company Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) found in surveying 2,000 U.S. consumers who made a purchase at between January-December 2015.

Those figures aren’t lost on Lutron, which became the latest smart-home supplier to integrate its smart-home products with Alexa. Consumers access Alexa’s capabilities through Amazon’s Echo, Tap, Dot, and Fire TV devices.

Other companies that have enabled Alexa control of their smart-home products include Nest, Honeywell, Insteon, Home Seer, Smart Things, Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Wink and EcoBee. Other companies, including Sonos, also plan to tap in Alexa to control their products.

“Voice is another great input” that will coexist with control from Lutron’s smartphone apps and from Lutron’s tiny handheld RF remotes, said Neil Orchowski, Lutron’s product development manager for strategic alliances.

To deliver Alexa control of its Caseta wireless lighting-control systems, Lutron added Alexa integration to its $150 Caseta Smart Bridge and installer- focused $200 Smart Bridge Pro. They plug into a Wi-Fi router and convert Wi-Fi commands from the Amazon devices into wireless 433MHz commands, which are recognized by $72 Caseta plugin lamp dimmers and $72 in-wall dimmers.

With the bridges, consumers can use Alexa’s farfield voice-control technology to issue voice commands from anywhere in a room, even when music is playing or a TV is on, to turn individual or groups of lights on and off, dim the lights or raise brightness levels.