In this article I will demonstrate you the Home Assistant Almond installation and how to control your Home Assistant entities with Almond. I will show you where to configure USB mic and USB Speakers to have a full smart speaker experience and I will also enable some Almond skills including Spotify skill. Coming up!
What is Almond?
What actually is Almond and why should you care? Almond is programmable virtual assistant for online services and Internet of Things (IoT) coming from Stanford University. Almond is also open sourced and privacy preserving and it just got better with its latest release. Almond comes with some ready to use skills like: Home Assistant, Spotify, News, Weather, Local Restaurants, Jokes and more.
Almond AI virtual assistant is developing fast and since my last video on this topic a lot of progress has been made. In my humble opinion Almond is still far from the level of the commercial voice assistants coming from Amazon, Google and others, but at least it is kind of local.
Nevertheless, I think It is worth to invest some time in Almond by just try it out at your home and eventually to report some issues to the Almond’s authors in the Stanford University.
With that being said let’s install Almond in Home Assistant as it is easiest method to test it by far.
Home Assistant Almond Installation
Installing Almond in Home Assistant is as easy as installing any other Home Assistant add-on! Anyways, here are the detailed steps:
In Home Assistant, go to > Supervisor > Add-on Store > Under Official Add-ons section find and click on Almond > after that click on Install button.
After few minutes the Almond will be installed as Home Assistant add-on and you can start It without any additional configurations. To start it just click on the Start button, after few seconds you can try to open the Almond Web UI.
What we can do with Almond?
Simple as that we have the Almond in our Home Assistant. Now what?
Let’s see what we can do with Almond in the following sections.
Before we see how to actually use Almond let’s quickly talk about Almond skills. You can enable and disable Almond skills which makes the virtual assistant even smarter. When you install Almond as Home Assistant Add-on – the Almond Home Assistant skill will be preinstalled for you. That means most of your Home Assistant entities will be already visible for you in Almond and you can ask Almond about their state or to turn them on/off (more on that later).
To add an Almond skill: Click on My Skills button > Configure a new skill > select the skill that you want to add from the list, click on it and follow the instructions.
We have several skills installed and ready to use, we also have Home Assistant entities that we can eventually control or get their current state, but how exactly to do that? Here is how:
How to use Almond?
To use Almond you can do either of the following:
- To use the Conversation link in Almond web UI
- To use the Home Assistant microphone where you can say commands using your computer microphone.
- To use the Home Assistant microphone where you can type commands.
- Last, but not least to use a waking word, which is described in the next chapter.
Almond waking word?
You may ask what about a waking word? Don’t worry there is one – “computer“, but to use this feature you will need a USB microphone that you have to connect to the device where Home Assistant is installed. For a full smart speaker experience you will also need USB speakers that you also have to connect to hear the Almond answers.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a USB mic and speakers to demo this, so I will just show you where the configuration is. And I will be happy as clam if you report back that this is working in the comments below.
Here is what you need to do:
- Connect the USB mic & speakers to the device where Home Assistant & Almond are installed and reboot your device.
- Go to Supervisor > Dashboard > Almond > Configuration tab > select your mic & speakers from the Input and Output dropdown menus > Save the changes.
If everything is fine, you will be able to wake Almond by just saying “computer YOUR_COMMAND” (example: computer turn on kitchen lights). If you have USB speakers as well you will hear the Almond response.
You may still think what else I can do with that Almond? Here is a cheatsheet created by the authors 👉 LINK.
These are examples that you can use for the different skills. I will leave the joy of testing them to you.
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Thank you for reading and I will see you next Wednesday.