Voice Interfaces For IoT
The Amazon Echo is a breakthrough product. It is the first consumer product with a voice-centric interaction model, and it has really caught on. The number of skills (think apps… more on this below) available in the Alexa Skills store has increased 5X between Q2 and Q4 of 2016, and Amazon Echo sales have more than doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 2.4 million to 5.2 million.
SpinDance recently created an Alexa skill that enables consumers to control Whirlpool and Jenn-Air home appliances with their voices. Along the way we discovered a better way to design skills, resulting in less code and increased flexibility. Read on to learn how you can follow suit.
About Alexa Skills
Alexa Skills are still relatively new, so before we explain the improved design methodology, here’s some background information on Amazon Alxa skills, and the traditional way of designing them.
It might help to think of Alexa skills as mobile apps. Just like mobile apps add features to mobile phones, Alexa skills add features to Alexa-powered devices, like the Echo, Echo Dot, or even a Kindle tablet.
Users can browse for skills in Amazon’s skill store, enable them, and then interact with their device by talking to it. Here are some examples: