Manufacturers these days see the tremendous potential in the consumer IoT market, with giants like Microsoft, Apple, Samsung and more investing heavily in the new concept. Amazon becomes the latest to jump onto the IoT bandwagon, as the company today made three major announcements. The online retailing giant today made its voice-activated personal assistant – Amazon Alexa, into a platform encouraging third-party developers to easily create and develop apps for the platform.
Announced in November last year, Alexa was limited to a select few users along with members of Amazon Prime. Much like Siri and Cortana, Amazon Echo answers a user’s query, play’s music via Amazon’s music library can read audiobooks and voice control smart devices. It also lets users place orders from Amazon and control connected bulbs and smart switches. It comes with a companion mobile app that integrates Echo to a WiFi access point, and can also hook up with other smart devices, for instance, the Philips Hue bulbs.
Amazon also announced its SDK developers kit, which is essentially a cloud-based voice service. To top it up, the e-commerce giant also announced a $100 million fund to lure third party developers and start-ups to develop apps for Echo. Dubbed as ASK (Alexa Skills Kit), it’ll be the SDK for developers to create third-party voice-driven applications. Alexa has now been unbundled from Echo, implying its wider availability could be seen in connected alarm clocks, smart bulbs and more. Also, we can see it onboard Amazon’s range of products including smartphones, tablets and e-readers in the coming future.
“We’re making the Alexa Skills Kit available to any developer, maker, or general hobbyist that wants to invent on behalf of customers, creating new skills and capabilities,” said Greg Hart vice president for Echo and Alexa voice services at Amazon
In the coming future when connected devices and smart homes will become more mainstream, they can be hooked up via Amazon Echo that would turn it into a smart hub for home automation. It can then voice control a plethora of devices include gaming consoles, TV sets, air conditioners and more. Amazon Echo is heavily backed by Alexa Voice Service, which will soon be available with Independent Hardware Vendors (IHV) so they can integrate their services with Alexa – a search and analytics service.
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As already mentioned, the third major announcement was the $100 million in the form of Alexa Fund, aimed at attracting third party developers and startups to create voice enhanced applications and devices based on Alexa. The announcements today are a clear indication that Amazon is indeed taking its voice-powered computing seriously, go head on against rivals Microsoft and Apple.
Amazon Echo and ASK are available for developers starting today while Alexa Voice Search is expected anytime soon.