SMART HOME-OBSESSED DEVELOPERS will be allowed to extend the capabilities of Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant with a Smart Home Skills API.
The API is the latest addition to the Alexa Skills Kit suite of tools, APIs and code that allow developers to add new ways to interact with Alexa. Amazon calls these 'skills', which sounds a bit like the immortal line uttered by Liam Neeson in Taken.
Developers with a taste for exploring how many different commands can be shouted at the Amazon Echo no longer need to build voice interaction models for Alexa. The API takes care of all the coding shenanigans and provides Amazon's standard language model as the foundation for developers to create the new skills.
So rather than needing to define words for Alexa to listen out for, developers need only use the Skills Kit web portal to define essentially what they want the skill to do, and provide a sample of the type of command that needs to be uttered to activate it.
Once the skill is set up it is piped into the Amazon Web Services cloud, the heart of Alexa, and allows all manner of smart home devices to be controlled by the power of voice. And people say being a developer is hard work.
For example, users can yelp 'Alexa, turn on the kitchen lights and the virtual assistant will make it so. Those looking to get a little hot and bothered can squawk 'Alexa, turn up the heat' and Alexa will tweak a connected thermostat appropriately.
Amazon is pretty keen to get the virtual assistant in control of all manner of things, having issued a recipe for baking Alexa’s speech tech into the Raspberry Pi. µ
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