It’s no secret that Amazon wants its Alexa voice assistant to be in as many places around the home as possible. With the latest developer tools, however, Amazon also wants Alexa in the kitchen and wearables.
First up is the Smart Home Skill API, which lets Alexa make its way to microwave ovens. With the new skills, you can ask Alexa to set microwave cook times, modes, power levels, and more instead of tapping away at buttons. More specifically, you can issue commands like, “Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken” and “Alexa, microwave for 50 seconds on high.”
Amazon says Whirlpool already created an Alexa skill using the kitchen-oriented API and will have it available for its microwaves sometime soon. The retail giant also said GE Appliances, Kenmore, LG and Samsung are working on leveraging the Smart Home Skill API for their ovens and other kitchen appliances. We could see these appliances as early as next week during CES 2018.
As for how practical the microwave commands are, I’m not sure. Even with the new voice commands, you still have to put food in the microwave, so all this does is save you from pressing buttons. We also don’t know how well microwaves and ovens will understand voice input, but the big picture is to get Alexa in the kitchen.
Amazon doesn’t stop there, as there are also developer tools that allow Alexa to work on various Bluetooth-connected wearables, including headphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers, and other audio devices.
One in particular, the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit, is already being used by the likes of Bose, Jabra, iHome, Linkplay, Sugr, Libre Wireless, Beyerdynamic, and Bowers and Wilkins. Bose, in particular, worked with Amazon to build and design the kit, which will be available to developers sometime this summer.
The developer tools not only allow Amazon to get Alexa into as many wearables as possible, but also allow wearable makers to keep up with the likes of Apple and Google. Both companies have tied their virtual assistants to their own Bluetooth headphones, so it makes sense for companies not from Cupertino or Mountain View to find a way to remain competitive.
Interestingly, there is another developer tool, the AVS Device SDK, that lets developers integrate Alexa into their devices. The difference is that the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit does not have Alexa built-in — the devices using the kit will connect to Alexa by pairing with Bluetooth to the Alexa app.
It’ll be interesting to see where else we might find Alexa by the end of 2018. Perhaps in the car à la Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto?