Today we are excited to introduce entertainment capabilities as part of the Smart Home Skill API. Now customers can easily control cloud-connected TVs, AV Receivers, IR Hubs, and even connected speakers without invoking a specific skill. For example, a customer could simply say, “Alexa, turn on the TV,” “Alexa, fast forward,” “Alexa, make it louder,” or “Alexa, switch input to Blu-Ray.” You create skills that connect devices directly to Alexa’s entertainment capabilities so that customers can control your devices—without lifting a finger. Launching today are smart home skills with entertainment controls from Sony, Logitech Harmony and BroadLink. Skills from Denon, Crestron, LG and Pulse-Eight are coming soon.
Extending Device Controls to TVs, AV Receivers, and IR Hubs
Customers are increasingly using voice interfaces as a hands-free way to manage their lives. By using Alexa’s built-in entertainment device controls, you will make it easier for your customers to engage with your device using voice. Because the Smart Home Skill API taps into Amazon’s standardized Alexa language model, you don’t need to build the voice interaction model for your skill. Alexa will understand the customer’s speech, convert it to a directive, and send that directive to your skill adapter. Your skill adapter can then communicate with your device to act on the directive and send a response back to Alexa. These new capabilities are available to developers in the US with support for UK and Germany coming soon.
How Companies Are Using the New Entertainment Capabilities in the Smart Home Skill API
Sony, Logitech and BroadLink have already created Alexa skills leveraging these new capabilities launching today.
- Sony has enabled customers with its 2017 4K HDR Android TVs to power on/off, change volume, switch inputs, and control content using Play, Pause, Rewind, and Fast Forward just by asking Alexa. It has also enabled customers to change channel via Alexa by connecting their set-top box to the TV. Sony also enables controlling functions of devices connected to the TV via HDMI-CEC.
- Logitech Harmony has expanded its smart home skill to now include Entertainment controls. This provides customers greater control over their entertainment devices by supporting a more native way to play, pause, skip forward, change the channel, or control volume. Customers can use Alexa to control their TV, favorite media players, and speakers for a completely hands-free entertainment experience.
- BroadLink enables a DIY customer to program their BroadLink Hubs for any living room device and leverages the entertainment controls (Power, Volume, Channel, and Playback) of Smart Home Skill API to enable control of these devices via voice.
You can connect your entertainment device to Alexa by following these steps:
- Register or log in to the Amazon Developer Portal for Alexa.
- Create and name your skill in the Alexa Skills Kit by selecting the Smart Home Skill API.
- Configure your AWS Lambda function to use the Alexa Smart Home trigger.
- Add code that processes messages from Alexa to communicate with your entertainment device. To do this, you will select payload version 3 in the developer portal when you create your skill. Learn more.
- Finish registering your skill in the Amazon Developer Portal by providing skill descriptions, images and account linking information.
- Enable the skill on an Alexa device and test it thoroughly.
- Submit for certification.
We look forward to seeing what you create with these new capabilities. To learn more about developing a smart home skill, check out these resources:
Build a Skill, Get an Echo Dot and New Alexa Swag
Developers have built more than 15,000 skills with the Alexa Skills Kit. Explore the stories behind some of these innovations, then start building your own skill. If you’re serious about getting into building voice UIs, we’d like to help you explore. If you publish a skill in July and apply for our promotion, we’ll send you an Echo Dot and some new Alexa swag so you can experiment and daydream.