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Showing posts tagged with Developer Spotlight

September 16, 2016

Zoey Collier

When Belkin International launched its WeMo line of connected devices in 2012, it wasn’t its first foray into consumer electronics. Belkin has been around for 30 years, transforming its business from cabling to connectivity, wireless networking, and eventually into home automation.

According to CJ Pipkin, Belkin’s national account manager for WeMo, the farther the company delved into wireless networking, the more it realized people wanted to remote-control devices of all kinds around the home. So Belkin transformed its Zensi energy-monitoring devices into what become WeMo—a line of smart, remote-controlled and remotely-monitored switches.

“We built a smart ecosystem of connected devices as early as anyone in the industry,” Pipkin says.

Belkin makes a variety of devices, but high-quality switches dominate its WeMo home automation lineup:

  • WeMo switch – smart outlet you control from anywhere (Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G)
  • WeMo Insight switch (control and monitor power usage from anywhere)
  • WeMo light switch that replaces a standard light switch

But since Amazon Echo and Alexa came on the scene, it’s completely changed Belkin’s way of thinking. They realized one household user—the techiest one—had previously dominated WeMo usage. With Alexa, though, anyone can operate a connected device with ease.

Tom Hudson, software product manager for WeMo, says smartphones were a natural way to control home devices at first, especially lighting. They are handy for configuring set-it-and-forget-it automations to respond to specific events. For more immediate actions, though, voice actuation is so much better. “It’s a lot easier to just say, ‘Turn that light on’ than it is to pull out your phone, find and load up the app, then locate and tap the right command.”

[Read More]

April 28, 2016

Amit Jotwani

Last year, we introduced a Developer Preview of Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to hobbyists and device makers to help them integrate Alexa into their connected devices and apps, and then a few weeks back, we released an implementation of an Alexa enabled Raspberry Pi on GitHub. We couldn’t be happier with the response we received from the developer community.

Meet Triby – a new connected family-friendly kitchen device that magnetically sticks to the fridge and can play music, make calls, display messages, and is voice activated.

Built by Invoxia, Triby is one of the first ‘Alexa-enabled’ devices built with AVS, which means that you can do almost everything with Alexa on Triby that you can do with Alexa on Echo. 

You address Alexa through Triby using the “Alexa” wake word, just as you would on Echo. Simply say “Alexa, play Adele” and Triby can play Adele from Prime Music, “Alexa add milk to my list” and Triby will add it to your shopping list, or “Alexa, turn off the kitchen lights” and Triby becomes a way to access and control the smart home.


“Voice recognition capabilities transform the way we interact with music, content and services. Amazon made it available to the world with its first range of Alexa-enabled devices. Now with a diversified Alexa-enabled device offering, more people can enjoy the Alexa experience. We are excited to be at the forefront of many third party devices to integrate the Alexa Voice Service with Triby. It has great communication features, the ability to hear you from across the room while being portable and an always-on display. We can't wait to equip millions of kitchens with it!" says Sebastien de le Bastie, Invoxia’s Managing Director.

Learn More about Alexa on Triby.

If you are a device maker, service provider or application developer interested adding rich and intuitive experiences to your products – AVS is the right choice for you! Get Started

Ready to Get Started?

For more information on Alexa-enabled devices and getting started with Alexa, check out the following resources:

Alexa-Enabled Devices
Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon Tap
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV Stick

Alexa Developer Resources
Alexa Voice Service (AVS)
Alexa Skills Kit (ASK)
The Alexa Fund
AVS Developer Forums
Alexa on a Raspberry Pi (GitHub)

Have Questions? We are here to help! Visit us on the AVS Forum to discuss specific questions with one of our experts.

- @amit


April 15, 2016

Zoey Collier

Like many industries today, the financial services sector is looking to become more customer-centric—to provide faster, easier, and more secure ways for consumers and businesses to buy goods and services online.

UK-based Lloyds Banking Group is no different. Committed to becoming a world-class, customer-centric digital bank, Lloyds is actively exploring biometrics, including voice recognition. According to Marc Lien, Director of Innovation and Digital Development, the use of speech is exciting not only because it’s convenient, but also because it can empower the 360,000 people registered as blind or partially sighted in the UK.

As Lien says, “Some of our customers cannot enjoy the full benefits of online banking. Understanding how we can break down accessibility barriers is another way in which we are working towards becoming the best bank for customers.”

To that end, Lloyds has created a proof of concept for Alexa, writing test cases for logging in, requesting account balances as well as account details, and asking for help from Lloyds. Watch this video to see the skill in action.

The skill isn’t live, because Alexa-enabled devices and Alexa Skills Kit are not yet available in the UK. But, as Lien explains, “By being at the forefront of exploring technologies we can keep pace with the evolving expectations of our customers. This also means that we can future-proof our products and services by considering how technologies may develop.”

To learn more about how they are developing test of concept for Alexa, read their blog. Look for more to come from Lloyds.

Are you ready to build your own Alexa skill but not sure where to start? Try our trivia and fact skill templates to get started quickly.

April 01, 2016

Zoey Collier

Fidelity Investments wanted to find a way to provide Echo users with real-time insights into market trends. By building a voice experience with Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), Fidelity is able to reach people in a different way – using voice. Now, with the Fidelity skill, anyone with an Alexa-enabled device can get a market update or a quote for publicly listed companies by simply enabling the skill and then saying “Alexa, Ask Fidelity how [Company Name] is doing.”

Building Voice Innovation

Fidelity’s Mobile team began tinkering with Alexa and Echo in late 2015. Intrigued by the new technology and curious about how to leverage Alexa to assist Fidelity customers, they worked with Amazon to reach an ambitious launch timeline with only five weeks left before the holidays. Working through possible voice experience scenarios, Fidelity decided to focus on their core business of finance and build a skill which they could enhance over time. Additionally, they wanted the skill to be helpful to most people. Naturally, providing financial updates seemed like the best fit.

Shanthan Kesharaju, Director of Software Engineering at Fidelity, and his team took the lead and built the skill. He took an agile approach to launch the skill in time for the holidays and leveraged cloud watch features and the analytics dashboard to measure hit rates and intent usage. Shanthan says, “The technical documentation, new feature announcements, and tutorials enable anybody with decent java skills to build a skill for Alexa pretty quickly. Also, the events, such as hackathons, are great and very helpful. Overall, it’s a first step into cloud for developers who have not played with cloud, and it’s a great resume builder.”

[Read More]

November 13, 2015

Emily Roberts

Alexa is the voice service that powers Amazon Echo. Companies can add new skills to Alexa using the Alexa Skills Kit. The Campbell’s Kitchen skill was announced at AWS re:Invent in October 2015, and Campbells created custom skinned Echos to celebrate.

Based on their customer research, Campbell’s knew that customers wanted help with a simple question – what should I make for dinner? Born out of that original insight was Campbell’s Kitchen, an online experience that helps customers answer that very question. The site offers healthy recipes, seasonal meal suggestions, and cooking tips, as well as special savings.

Campbell’s Kitchen is already available online and via an app, and after the Alexa Skills Kit launched over the summer, Umang Shah, Director of Digital Marketing and Marketing Innovation at Campbell Soup Company, saw potential to make the content available in the kitchen hands-free. Campbell’s Digital Marketing agency RAIN, who originally pitched the idea to Umang, then set to work creating a skill to make dinnertime easy. The Campbell’s Kitchen skill launched just six weeks later.

[Read More]

August 17, 2015

Corey Badcock

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for you to create new voice-driven capabilities for Alexa. Alexa is the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo, a new category of device designed around your voice.

We announced the availability of the Alexa Skills Kit a little over a month ago, and we’ve been impressed with some of the skills developers are teaching Alexa. We wanted to give you an early look at a few of these third-party Alexa skills that are starting to come out of the pipeline.

[Read More]

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