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April 05, 2016David Isbitski
Today we are introducing the Smart Home Skill API, a new addition to the Alexa Skills Kit, which enables developers to add capabilities, called skills, to Alexa. Developers can now teach Alexa how to control their cloud-controlled lighting and thermostat devices so customers can simply say, “Alexa, turn on the kitchen lights” or “Alexa, turn up the heat.” You no longer need to build a voice interaction model to handle customer requests. This work is now done for you when you use the Smart Home Skill API. You create skills that connect your devices directly to our lighting and thermostat capabilities so that customers can control their lights, switches, smart plugs or thermostats—without lifting a finger.
We first introduced the Smart Home Skill API as a beta called the Alexa Lighting API in August 2015. As part of the beta program, we worked with companies including Nest, Ecobee, Sensi, Samsung SmartThings, and Wink in order to gather developer feedback, while extending Alexa’s smart home capabilities to work with their devices.
It’s easy and free for developers to use the Smart Home Skill API to connect Alexa to hubs and devices for both public and personal use. Get Started Now >
When you create a custom skill, you build the voice interaction model. When using the Smart Home Skill API, you tap into Amazon’s standardized language model so you skip the step of creating an interaction model. Alexa understands the user’s speech, converts it to a device directive and sends that directive to that skill adapter that you build in AWS Lambda.
To create your smart home skill, you’ll first configure your skill using a new Smart Home Skill API flow in the developer portal. Since you won’t need to define the words users say to use the skill, this new flow skips the interaction model step, where custom skill developers define the intent schema and sample utterances for their skill.
You’ll also open a second tab to create the skill adapter as an AWS Lambda function. Your skill adapter translates between Alexa’s skills and your device’s proprietary control systems, as the means to relay discovery and control commands from Alexa to your device control cloud. Alexa acts as an OAuth client and requests resources from the device control cloud. To facilitate this, you will need to provide information about your OAuth server information when creating a skill adapter so the user of the application can grant permissions for Alexa to retrieve device information. That information can then be used to control those devices.
Like custom skills, smart home skills must pass our certification process before they go live. Learn more about our certification process here. Approved smart home skills will be available for customers in the Alexa app by the end of April.
With the recent launch of Echo Dot and Amazon Tap, there are more ways than ever to control smart home devices like lights, switches, plugs, and thermostats using Alexa. To help customers find, discover and buy Alexa-compatible smart home devices, today we also introduced a refreshed Alexa Smart Home store. The store allows customers to shop smart home products by brand or solution and it offers brands new opportunities to get their products noticed by Alexa customers. To learn more, visit www.amazon.com/alexasmarthome.
All skills published by April 30th will receive a limited edition Alexa dev t-shirt. Quantities are limited. See Terms and Conditions. Remember, you can get started quickly using either our trivia skill template or fact skill template.
Alexa, powers voice experiences on millions of devices in the home, including Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and Amazon Fire TV devices. Developers have added over 500 skills to Alexa so far. Hardware manufacturers and hackers can also integrate the Alexa Voice Service into their own devices. For more information on smart home and getting started with Alexa, check out the following resources:
Alexa Developer Platform
Voice Design Education