The Alexa smart assistant by Amazon evolves towards new applications
Now, Alexa lets you control smart-home devices such as lights, switches, thermostats and more. Alexa is the brain behind Amazon Echo and other smart devices. It provides capabilities, or skills, that enable the interaction with devices in a more intuitive way using voice to ask questions: just ask an information, and the smart assistant will respond instantly, even recognizing the emotions in your voice. And Alexa lives in the cloud so it’s always getting smarter. The more customers use this voice service, the more it will adapt to speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. Smart Home is becoming a popular application of Alexa. In fact, Alexa provides a set of built-in smart home capabilities to work with devices such as lights, switches, thermostats, and more, that you can control using your voice. You can switch on the lamp without getting out of bed, turn on the fan or space heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie - all without lifting a finger. Some products work directly with Alexa and other smart home ecosystems require a compatible hub. The Smart Home Skill API is a new addition to the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) that enables developers to add skills to Alexa: you can easily teach Alexa how to control your cloud-controlled lighting and thermostat devices and, with custom skills, you can build a voice interaction model to handle customer requests. Now some of this work is done for you. The Smart Home Skill API taps into Amazon’s standardized language model so you don’t have to build the voice interaction model for your smart home skill. Alexa understands the user’s speech, converts it to a directive and sends that directive to your skill adapter. To create your smart home skill, you’ll configure your skill using the Smart Home Skill API flow in the developer portal. Then you’ll create the skill adapter in AWS Lambda which translates between Alexa’s smart home capabilities and your device’s proprietary control systems. An Alexa smart home ecosystem contains the following. The customer, i.e. the person interacting with the Alexa-enabled device and owner of cloud-enabled devices. The Smart Home Skill API, i.e. a service that understands the voice commands and converts them to directives (JSON messages) that are sent to smart home skills. AWS Lambda, a compute service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that hosts the smart home skill code, which is called a skill adapter. The smart home skill: code and configuration that interpret directives and send messages to a device cloud. And the device cloud: the cloud environment provided by a device vendor that controls and manages the customer’s cloud-enabled devices. For example: a customer who has previously added devices or scenes to their device cloud says, “Alexa, turn on the kitchen light” to their Amazon Echo or other Alexa-enabled device. The Amazon Echo or other Alexa-enabled device hears this instruction and sends it to the Alexa service for interpretation. The Alexa Smart Home Skill API interprets the action as "turn on" and the device name as "kitchen light". It composes a message to send to the skill adapter that controls the kitchen light. This message is called a directive. The directive includes the action (turn on), the device identifier (an ID representing the device that the customer named "kitchen light") and information authenticating the customer. Microsoft dominated the PC era, when computing was defined by a keyboard and mouse. Google and Apple are currently battling for dominance over smartphones — a platform defined by touchscreens. Amazon is trying to build the third great computing platform: one for devices that have no screen at all.
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Internet Of Things (IoT)