Could Alexa be the next big thing in 2018?
The Seattle-based company will be certainly noticeable at this year's show, primarily via Alexa, its fast-growing voice technology platform that powers the company's Echo devices. As such the company is already offering its Echo lineup in different form factors.
However, Alexa's smart abilities can not used for existing ovens. Initially rolling out in microwaves from Whirlpool and others, the new cooking capabilities will let users define time and temperature parameters and will eventually use the Alexa voice interface to walk through cooking a meal. Yes, you heard that right.
Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices are the future of smart home devices, connecting virtually every area of your home with voice commands. Moreover, Amazon has said that support for other cooking appliances will also be added later.
The TV remote of Comcast Xfinity Home also is voice enabled, transforming that remote to a central smart home control point. Up until now, smart speakers were too expensive and connecting them to other smart devices was a confusing process. For example, a user can say "Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken" or "Alexa, microwave for 50 seconds on high". Indeed the new API software is an improvement. You might need to dive into your Amazon Prime settings and set your country to Australia if you've previously tricked it into thinking you're in the United States so you could set up Alexa, Echo speakers or Amazon Music. The tools are available from Amazon for developers now, but we'll still have to wait a while to see compatible appliances.
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"Whirlpool has created an Alexa skill leveraging these new cooking capabilities in the Smart Home Skill API for its connected microwaves and expects to launch it soon". Next up? Controlling your kitchen appliances starting with microwave ovens.
GE Appliances, Kenmore, LG and Samsung are also working on bringing AI controls to their appliances. Amazon explained further telling CNET that, "we're making it easier for device manufacturers to build for Alexa by providing a common framework".
Unfortunately Amazon only sells the Basic Edition of its Fire TV in Australia and we miss out on USA models which pack more grunt, support faster Wi-Fi, handle Ultra HD streaming and work with Amazon's talkative Alexa smart assistant.
All in all, this is an interesting development in the technology sphere.