The ecobee4 Smart Thermostat is the first and only thermostat to provide full-fledged Alexa capabilities directly from the device itself, thanks to its array of far-field microphones, built-in speaker, and LED light bar. The only issue is that, since it’s not an Amazon product, it did not have Echo Spatial Perception (ESP), which is what allows Amazon’s line of Echo smart speakers to know which device is closest to the speaker so that only one responds. A new software update for the ecobee4 has now addressed this issue by making it, to my knowledge, the first non-Amazon product to support ESP.
For a house with two or more far-field Alexa devices, having ESP on all of them is a must-have requirement. Without ESP, all of the Alexa devices that hear a command will respond to the speaker and each will try to execute the request. At best, this results in a confusing mess with multiple Alexa devices speaking over each other, and at worst, a requested action will be performed multiple times, requiring you to straighten things out afterward.
The lack of ESP on the Eufy Genie, which I otherwise consider to be a great alternative to the Amazon Echo Dot, is why I simply couldn’t recommend the device in my review to anyone who already owns an Echo product. No ESP is the main reason I personally never considered picking up an ecobee4, despite it seeming like a very appealing device and worth replacement to my Nest thermostat.
Ecobee has now announced that a software update is starting to roll out to ecobee4 devices that adds support for ESP. With its new ESP capabilities, the ecobee4 will communicate with Echo devices in the vicinity to determine if it or a different Alexa device is closest to the person speaking, so that only one Alexa device responds. This is great news, not only because it makes the ecobee4 a viable option for people with other Alexa devices, but it also means there’s hope that other Alexa devices not made by Amazon, like the aforementioned Eufy Genie, will also gain ESP some day.
The ecobee4 softwre update that ads ESP is version 18.104.22.168, which you can check by going to MENU > ABOUT on the thermostat. Ecobee says to email them at email@example.com if your device is not updating. Big thanks to smart thermostat connoisseur Dave Zatz for the heads up on the good news.