Smart homes are still not very smart, and voice assistants don’t quite understand you. In addition to using groups, you should carefully name your devices to avoid duplication, remembering names, and confusion — both for you and your voice assistant.

Similar device names introduce command confusion

Have you ever asked Alex or Google to turn off the lights in your living room only to be asked all the time which device in the living room you want to turn off? You may try to phrase it better or be more specific, just getting frustrated because Google and Alexa don’t understand what you want.

Usually you are the problem. If you named a smart plug «study», a smart light bulb «study», and a smart switch «study», your voice assistant won’t know which device to turn off. You can solve some of them by creating groups. But it also helps if you follow some basic rules when naming your smart devices.

Also, naming your smart devices correctly from the start will help you avoid having to relearn those names when you have to change something.

Naming groups after numbers or targets

Alexa app with groups called

The most important names for your smart home are your group names. If you don’t group devices in your home, you should be. You will achieve more with fewer words and you will remember less. Both Google and Amazon have made it easy to create groups, and the sooner you do it, the better for you.

A good strategy is to name your groups after the room they are in. The group for devices in your living room should be called Living Room, the group for your study should be called Study, and so on. The exception is groups of things that are not tied to a specific room. In this case, you must use their assignment for the name.

For example, if all of your Christmas lights are plugged into smart plugs, put them in a group called Christmas. You will tell your voice assistant to «turn off Christmas» when you want to control the group.

This also applies even if the devices are in the same room as other devices but you want to control them separately. For example, maybe you have a lamp or bias lamp behind your TV that you don’t want to turn off along with other devices in the room. In this case, leave these devices outside the main group and place them in their own group if needed.

RELATED: Want better Smarthome voice control? Use groups

Always use unique names for your devices

Once you’ve created groups, it’s time to worry about device naming. The worst thing you can do is use the same name for different devices. If you call «smart light» and «smart switch» «study», your voice assistant will get confused when you say «turn off study». It won’t know which device you mean.

Voice assistants need a way to distinguish between devices. You can do this by naming the devices after their location in the room, or by entering the room name and number.

Name similar devices to place in the room

Lighted Alexa app called Fireplace, Playstation and Window

You should name most devices after their physical location in the room. This is especially true for smart lights, since you probably have more than one in a room. If you have a smart light called «fireplace» and another light called «window», you will be more likely to remember their unique names. This is most important when you want to control individual devices such as lighting above or across the room from your TV.

Remember that when managing individual devices, it is not only important that your voice assistant understands what you are implying. It is also important that you can easily remember which name to use.

If you can look at the device’s location and easily remember its name, that will make things easier. If the name of the location itself won’t work, try something related to that location. For example, we named the light source near our home entertainment center «PlayStation» because the TV itself is voice controlled, but the PlayStation is not. The more obvious name is taken, but we still found a unique name for our devices.

Add numbers when individual control is not needed

Google App with devices called Christmas 1 to Christmas 10

Sometimes you don’t need to control all the different smart things in a room or group. If you have three overhead lights in your kitchen controlled by a single switch, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever turn one or two on with your voice. Likewise, if you have all your outdoor Christmas lights on a smart plug, you probably won’t turn them on one by one. The best thing to do is to name them sequentially after their related group. For kitchen lights, this could be Kitchen 1, Kitchen 2, Kitchen 3. For Christmas lights, you could call them Christmas 1, Christmas 2, Christmas 3, and so on.

On the rare occasions when you only want to control one smart device, Google and Alexa can still handle it. The main goal here is to make it easier to identify devices when you group them — after that you will manage them by group name. And you don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about a unique name. The number in the name is still needed. This avoids confusion when your voice assistant asks, “Which cuisine are you referring to?”

These simple recommendations are an effective way to improve the performance of your smart home. Voice assistants still have trouble understanding us, and they may stumble. We humans are quite forgetful too. These tips will help your voice assistant understand you better and help you remember the right words.

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