On Thursday, Amazon announced that it would open up the cloud-based voice command service Alexa to developers so that just about everyone could program Echo, the cylindrical robotic assistant equipped with seven microphones that can record your voice and follow your commands in your home.
The company also announced that the new developer kit would be absolutely free and would not require any expertize in speech recognition systems. In a recent press release, Amazon stated that Echo’s brain Alexa would do all the hard work of hearing, understanding and processing the user’s voice commands so developers don’t have to.
So, programmers will be able to create their own software and give more instructions to Echo. They will also be able to connect the system with appliances including thermostats and sprinklers and instruct the system to deliver fresh updates from certain websites.
Although Echo cannot wash your dishes, it could command your dish washer to doing it. It could do the same thing with your vacuum cleaner or with your laundry machine. Echo’s Alexa ecosystem is one major step towards home automation and Amazon seems to want to be central part of it.
This week, the company started to sell the 9.25-inch tall cylinder Echo for about $180, and its remote control for an extra $29.99. Initially, only those with an invitation could buy the device.
Echo’s Alexa is expected to turn customers’ attention from Apple’s Siri voice assitant, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Now. Earlier this week, the iPhone maker rolled out a line of devices designed to work with Siri into making your home smarter. You can now use Siri to turn on the coffee maker or switch off the upstairs lights with a single spoken request.
Siri can also help you search and pick a tune from the iTunes, or brief you on important appointments you need to attend. But Amazon cloud’s users can also manage and listen to their favorite tracks with a single voice command by using Alexa.
Amazon disclosed that Alexa can be programmed to do things not related to your home like telling you how many calories you burned during one day before eating a high-calorie treat.
AOL, Intuit and Pebblebee among others said that they would be using the developer kit to create new commands for Alexa. For instance, the latter company announced that it would use the kit to program Alexa to find your keys.
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