The Alexa Gadgets Toolkit is currently in beta, but looks to build on the ever-growing network of appliances now able to interact with Amazon’s ubiquitous smart assistant.
Most collaborative third-party products so far have been in the home audio sector, twinning Alexa’s smarts with high-end audio credentials you can’t find in the average Amazon Echo – like in the premium Sonos One speaker.
The toolkit is likely to see Alexa spread across more casual, low-end devices. Amazon picks out cuckoo clocks and singing fish ornaments as products ripe for the Alexa revolution. Whether we need Alexa in every domestic appliance and discarded novelty gift is unclear, but you can bet your bottom dollar it’s happening.
While the potential applications are broad, Amazon singles out the following starting points for budding Alexa developers to include:
- Wake Word Detection: Respond when the wake word is detected, such a cuckoo clock that pops its head out whenever a customer says, “Alexa”
- Speech: Sync movement to text-to-speech, such as a robot that lip syncs as Alexa reads the local weather report
- Notifications: Respond to notifications, such as a flag that raises each time a notification is received
- Timers: Respond when a timer has expired, such as an outdoor gong that chimes when backyard playtime timer has concluded
- Alarms: Respond when an alarm has been triggered, such as a switch that releases dog food each time an alarm has expired
- Reminders: Respond when a pre-set reminder has gone off, such as a pill box that plays a short tune and flashes when it’s time for daily vitamins
- Music (Coming Soon): Create visual performances with music, such as a hula girl that sways her hips when songs are playing on Amazon Music
Alexa, Alexa, everywhere
Since first launching the first-generation Amazon Echo in 2015, Amazon has shifted millions of Alexa-enabled devices around the world. So it’s no surprise that third-party manufacturers are keen to get a slice of the AI pie.
Earlier this week, reports emerged suggesting the retail juggernaut was expanding its in-house Alexa range with a further eight smart home devices, with official announcements to come in the coming weeks.
The new devices are rumored to include an Alexa-powered microwave and some form of Alexa gadget for your car. The Echo range may also ramp up its audio credentials with a high-end home audio system with an AV receiver and subwoofer.
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.