Technology

Amazon wants Alexa to work more with other voice assistants

Imagine that you come home from work, and loud, unpleasant music comes from the speakers in the living room. You may know which members of your family turned it on, but you may not know which voice assistant they used to do it: Amazon Alexa, Sonos Voice Control, or Hey Spotify?

This is a problem that is likely to become more prevalent as all types of businesses embrace the concept of ambient computing, i.e. computing capabilities that seamlessly move between every aspect of your life. As you move from your smart home to your smart car with smart headphones in hand, different brands will likely have their own AI assistants ready to help.

“We’re really starting to see this vision of Alexa and Ambient Intelligence becoming a reality,” said Aaron Rubenson, vice president of Alexa Voice & Amazon Alexa Skills. “I would say that every brand should have an ambient strategy at this stage.”

Universal Commands

However, Amazon is fully aware that having so many voice assistants at your disposal can be confusing. During an Alexa Live developer event on Wednesday, the company said it is introducing support for what it calls Universal Device Commands, which covers basic commands for a device, such as adjusting the volume, stopping a timer, or stopping audio streaming.

So in the scenario above, if your teenager turned on their terrible music with Alexa, you can still say to your Sonos speakers, “Hey Sonos, stop” and the music should stop.

“We believe there are certain things that any voice assistant on a device should manage,” said Aaron Reubenson.

Amazon and surrounding computing

The introduction of generic device commands builds on the collaborative approach to background computing that Amazon has been using in recent years. In 2019, the company launched the Voice Interaction Initiative to enable users to interact with more than one voice assistant on the same device.

The initiative was launched with the cooperation of 35 companies, and now there are more than 90. It is noteworthy that Apple, Google and Samsung are not participants in the initiative. Asked if the three big companies would support the proposed universal device commands, Aaron Rubenson said that Amazon can’t yet share details about compatible voice services outside of Alexa. More information on the implementation of Universal Device Controls is expected to become available within the next year.

Ambient Computing is “a big vision and we knew all along that we couldn’t achieve this alone,” said Aaron Rubenson. “Device developers and manufacturers have always been at the center of this vision for ambient computing technology and the growth of Alexa. »

Other announcements

The statistics back this up: over 20% of all interactions with Alexa are due to customers interacting with third-party skills, said Aaron Rubenson. In total, these are tens of billions of interactions. Similarly, in the smart home space, customers have connected more than 300 million smart home devices to Alexa.

Currently, more than a million developers, device manufacturers, and brands in general are working with Alexa in a wide variety of industries, including TV manufacturers, automotive manufacturers, and more. Even brands like Disney are integrating Alexa into their products and services.

Meanwhile, during Wednesday’s Alexa Live event, Amazon announced a series of new and improved developer kits that should keep the momentum of Alexa users going:

  • The Alexa Connect Kit for Matter SDK extends Alexa Connect Kit cloud connectivity and managed services to Matter devices. Matter is a communications standard aimed at enabling interoperability between IoT devices.
  • The Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit includes a new collection of APIs and services that enhance the Alexa smart home experience for developers. This should provide a more unified smart home for end users.
  • Alexa Voice Service (AVS) SDK 3.0 integrates Alexa Smart Screen SDK and AVS Device SDK. This should streamline the development of the voice and the multimodal experience.
  • The Alexa Routines Kit (ARK) helps skill builders provide their clients with pre-made routines when interacting with their skills. For example, Jaguar Land Rover uses the Alexa Routines Kit to create a routine called Good Night. The subroutine will perform tasks such as checking that the car is locked, charged or fueled, and that it is in Sentinel mode.

Amazon also announced a variety of ways to help developers advance their skills and grow their business:

  • The Skill Developer Accelerator Program (SDAP) provides developers with updated incentives and new benefits to help improve skill quality, discovery, and engagement.
  • The Promoted Skills feature allows skill creators to run paid campaigns to promote their skills.
  • The Alexa Shopping Kit is a feature set that allows skill builders to integrate the shopping experience into their skills. Customers can find, search and buy related products.
  • Increasing Revenue Share: For developers who earn less than $1 million a year in total annual revenue from skill purchases (ISPs), subscriptions, and paid skills, Amazon is increasing the base revenue share by 70-30 to 80-20, i.e. 80%. developers. In addition, these developers will also receive 10% earnings from their skills as an additional incentive to improve their skills. This bonus will be paid out in cash in 2022.

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