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January 27, 2017

Zoey Collier

Just Eat has grown a lot since its humble beginnings in a Danish basement in 2001. Now headquartered in London, Just Eat is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is the world’s leading marketplace for online food ordering and delivery. Its goal, simply put, is to revolutionize the way people find, order and enjoy food.

Just Eat is making good on that mission. Today, it connects more than 62,000 restaurants across 100 cuisines in 15 countries, with an audience of over 15 million people.

Craig Pugsley is a principal designer in Just Eat’s Product Research team. He says the UK has a long tradition of delivery and takeout meals. Just Eat’s apps let diners explore exciting new cuisines at nearby restaurants. With menus for over 27,000 restaurants in the UK alone, it’s easy to find a new favorite flavor anytime.

Research quickly showed Pugsley’s team that diners tend to order their favorites again and again. So when Amazon brought Echo and Alexa to the UK, Just Eat saw a new opportunity. The Just Eat Alexa skill would make reordering a tasty new fave even easier, with just a few words:

“Alexa, tell Just Eat to re-order Dim sum.

No phone calls. No fumbling for a smartphone app. And no digging out credit card details. Just quick delivery of your favorite comfort food.

[Read More]

January 25, 2017

Michael Palermo

Today’s post comes from J. Michael Palermo IV, Sr. Evangelist at Amazon Alexa. You will learn why you should use a custom slot instead of the soon to be deprecated AMAZON.LITERAL.

We’ve been listening to your feedback for Alexa feature requests and questions. As such, this post provides details around the deprecation of literal slots. By the time you finish reading this post, you will see it doesn’t matter that the LITERAL slot type is going away because it already has a better replacement: custom slot types.

Before we get into the details, it’s clear that the community needs more time to experiment with custom slot types and to make the transition. So, we’re moving the LITERAL deprecation date for US skills to Feb 6th 2017. From the beginning, custom slot types (and not LITERAL) have been the solution in the UK or Germany.

Slots let you to build interaction models and pass phrases from the user to your skill. Amazon provides a set of built-in slot types that cover common things like numbers, names, and dates. Custom slot types go beyond these to enable support for the scenarios that you’ve chosen to build. They are a superset of the LITERAL slot type that we’re deprecating.

This post will describe how to support three common LITERAL scenarios we’ve seen.

Scenario 1: I want to collect an arbitrary word or phrase from what the user said.

Imagine a situation where you want to gather information from users that you don’t know when you build your interaction model. Examples include things like lists of wines, items in a game, names of cities, nicknames, etc. It’s clear that you could build a custom slot with all the values that you do know but how do you handle the values that you don’t or can’t know?

First, be sure to check the list of built-in slot types. You may find something that we’ve already built for you like first names, city names, last names, dates, numbers, and many more.

When you create a custom slot type, a key concept to understand is that this is training data for Alexa’s NLP (natural language processing). The values you provide are NOT a strict enum or array that limit what the user can say. This has two implications 1) words and phrases not in your slot values will be passed to you, 2) your code needs to perform any validation you require if what’s said is unknown.

Let’s look at an example of how to build support for something like nicknames. The custom slot type is named NICKNAMES. The custom slot values are shown here: 

Figure 1 : Custom slot for NICKNAMES

The intent schema uses NICKNAMES instead of AMAZON.LITERAL.

[Read More]

January 19, 2017

Ted Karczewski

Meet the Sugr Cube, a portable minimalist Wi-Fi speaker system now with Amazon Alexa.

With a growing number of smart products found in the home today, form factor design has become just as important as the technology found under the hood. Customers want smart home products that make their lives easier, but not at the expense of personal taste and design aesthetic. That’s where Sugr, a global innovator in high-definition Wi-Fi audio systems, comes in.

 

Customers can stream music from Spotify with Spotify Connect technology, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more just by tapping and asking. The speaker also responds to unique gestures or movements—customers can play music with simple touch commands, with rocking motions, or with the companion mobile application.

 

[Read More]

January 18, 2017

Zoey Collier

Earlier in the summer, Ashwin Karuhatty reached out to a group of connected home integration professionals in the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). Karuhatty, part of Amazon’s Smart Home business development team, wanted to encourage integrators to develop new Alexa skills for the connected home. CEDIA’s annual conference was an ideal place to start.[Read More]

January 17, 2017

Bertrand Vacherot

With Amazon Alexa, developers are creating novel and delightful voice experiences for customers. University students are rethinking the way we live. Meet Adam Betemedhin, an Electrical Engineering major, and Kevin Duong-Tran, a Computer Science major, from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Adam and Kevin, along with roughly 20 other students from multi-disciplinary backgrounds at UNLV, are participating in the 2017 Solar Decathlon, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy that will culminate in October of this year. [Read More]

January 13, 2017

Thom Kephart

We just wrapped up an exciting week at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). You may have read some of the buzz around voice and Alexa at CES this year. Companies and developers expanded Alexa skills and integrations with dozens of announcements and demonstrations at CES. Developers like you are helping to build the future of a voice-driven world . Thanks to your work, Alexa now has over 7,000 skills and a growing number of integrations on third-party devices. [Read More]

January 11, 2017

David Isbitski

The Alexa Skills Kit provides the ability to display visual information, both text and images, via skill cards. These cards are a useful way to provide your users with additional information from your Alexa skill that may be too verbose or too difficult to include in the voice user interface. Skill cards can be displayed in many form factors across different types of devices. This includes the Alexa app via iOS and Android devices, the Alexa app via a web browser, on Fire Tablet, and on the big screen while interacting with skills on Fire TV.[Read More]

January 10, 2017

Glenn Cameron

In October of last year we worked with Hackster.io to launch the Amazon Alexa API Mashup Contest challenging developers to connect their favorite public APIs to Alexa. Developers submitted 163 projects that connected Alexa to the APIs of companies like Slack, Medium, Yelp, and many others.

Special thanks to everyone who competed in this contest. We were impressed by the creativity, quality, and high number of entries. We encourage you to browse through the projects. Each one comes with source code and documentation that might be a helpful reference when you code your next Alexa skill.

[Read More]

January 06, 2017

Ted Karczewski

Today at CES, Nucleus demonstrated new Display Cards for Alexa that offer complementary visual content alongside voice responses from the Alexa Voice Service.

For screen-based devices like the Amazon Fire TV with Alexa, Display Cards for Alexa offer the ability to render a “Now Playing” interface for music and books, as well as graphical information for weather, to-do and shopping lists, calendar updates, and Alexa skills when a user engages with Alexa.

[Read More]

January 06, 2017

Ted Karczewski

Volkswagen unveiled its plans to integrate with Amazon Alexa at CES yesterday during a moderated press event and booth tour.

The company will collaborate with Amazon to bring Alexa into the car through a voice integration on the head unit. In addition to the in-car Alexa integration, Volkswagen also announced a new Alexa skill that will help car owners get information about their vehicle from inside the home using an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or any Alexa device.

[Read More]

January 05, 2017

Ted Karczewski

Huawei announced today at CES that its Mate 9 model will be available in the United States starting on January 6, 2017. Building on the company’s history of innovation, the Mate 9 will be the first introduced smartphone with an app featuring Amazon Alexa.

The pre-installed application will provide users with a natural, convenient way to set alarms, build to-do lists, get weather and traffic reports, and more—all they have to do is ask. For existing Mate 9 owners, the app will be available through an over-the-air update.

[Read More]

January 05, 2017

Ted Karczewski

The Ford Motor Company announced a two-phased approach to integrating Amazon Alexa into its 2017 line of vehicles.

 

 

The first gives electric Ford vehicle owners the ability to connect to their cars from the comfort of their homes through Alexa devices such as the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Amazon Tap. The second phase, which starts this spring, enables Ford drivers with SYNC 3 AppLink to ask Alexa to search and transfer destinations to navigation, resume audiobooks, request news, add items to Amazon shopping list, and more—all from their car.

[Read More]

January 04, 2017

Ted Karczewski

LG Electronics announced today at CES its Smart InstaView Door-in-Door refrigerator, a smart refrigerator now with Amazon Alexa.

The Smart InstaView Door-in-Door refrigerator comes equipped with a 29-inch translucent touch LCD screen. Its Knock-On feature enables users to easily check the content inside by simply knocking on the screen twice.

The 2017 model will incorporate the Alexa Voice Service, allowing users to plan an entire dinner party, grocery shop, and more just by using their voice. Users will be able to search recipes, add any ingredients they’re missing to a shopping list, place orders from Amazon.com, and even control smart home products by enabling Alexa skills.

The kitchen is often one of the busiest rooms in the house. With Alexa, Smart InstaView Door-in-Door refrigerator owners can manage their entire homes without lifting a finger.

Learn more about the Alexa integration and product availability by visiting LG’s press page

Get Started with Alexa

Alexa is always getting smarter with new capabilities and services. Learn how AVS can add rich, voice-powered experiences to your connected products.

Have questions? We’re here to help. Visit us on the AVS Forum or Alexa GitHub to speak with one of our experts.

January 04, 2017

Ted Karczewski

To demonstrate how a voice-forward interface like Amazon Alexa enables frictionless, hands-free control over everything in the home, from the lock on the front door and lights in the hallway to advanced scenes for movie nights and cozy mornings, we’ve collaborated with Intel to showcase a Smart Tiny Home with Alexa at CES.

[Read More]

January 04, 2017

Ted Karczewski

DISH announced yesterday at CES that customers will soon be able to watch hands-free, voice-controlled TV by pairing a Hopper DVR with the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.

DISH will introduce a new Alexa skill in the first half of 2017 that allows customers to navigate, search, and quick play TV on a Hopper DVR based on channel, title, actor, and genre just by using their voice. 

[Read More]

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