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September 27, 2017David Isbitski
Editors' Note: The Gadgets Skill API is now the Echo Buttons Skill API. The interface names and underlying functionality are unchanged.
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We’re excited to introduce Alexa Gadgets, a new category of connected products and developer tools that enhance voice interactions with compatible Echo devices. Alexa Gadgets are powered by the new Alexa Gadgets SDK and Gadgets Skill API, which enable you to build products and experiences that turn a compatible Echo device into a hub for interactive play. You can sign up now to be notified when the development tools are made available.
To demonstrate how these new tools can be used to create playful experiences, we also introduced the first Alexa Gadgets product: Echo Buttons. Echo Buttons deliver a new way for customers to play games with friends and family. Each Echo Button illuminates and can be pressed to trigger a variety of multiplayer and interactive game experiences. The buttons connect to compatible Echo devices via Bluetooth, and will be available in the US, UK, and Germany in time for the holidays.
The Alexa Gadgets SDK enables you to build your own Alexa Gadget and includes the following APIs:
We provided an early preview of the Alexa Gadgets SDK to Gemmy Industries, which is creating a new version of its iconic Big Mouth Billy Bass that lip syncs and moves in response to Amazon Music played by Alexa.
Here’s what Gemmy is saying:
“We are excited to bring a new voice experience to customers with the next generation of Big Mouth Billy Bass,” says Vice President of Product Development at Gemmy Industries, Steven Harris. “Customers get everything they love about the original Big Mouth Billy Bass with the addition of it being able to respond and move in a delightful way to Alexa actions. The new Alexa Gadgets SDK from Amazon made it seamless to update one of our iconic novelty items with new technology, and bring that to other products as well.”
The Gadgets Skill API lets you create interactive experiences for Alexa Gadgets. Accessible through the Alexa Skills Kit, you can use the Gadgets Skill API to integrate Alexa Gadget inputs and actions into your skills. To start, you can build skills that work with Echo Buttons. These skills can respond to button presses in-skill and send actions to Echo Buttons, such as animations that will direct the buttons to illuminate. We are also creating game templates that you can use to build fun and interactive games for Echo Buttons, enabling new features such as multiplayer trivia games, sequence and pattern matching, as well as other game modes.
We gave a preview of the Gadgets Skill API to game developers, and there will be a number of new Echo Button-compatible skills available including Trivial Pursuit from Hasbro, Sounds Fun with Mike Epps, Buzzer Beater Basketball Trivia with Karl-Anthony Towns, Fourth Down Football Trivia with Philip Rivers, Full Count Baseball Trivia with Buster Posey from Ground Control as well as Beat the Intro from Musicplode.
Here’s what they are saying:
“We’re excited to work with Amazon to bring voice-enabled play to our well-loved Trivial Pursuit brand,” said Mark Blecher, SVP Digital Gaming & Corporate Development at Hasbro. “Our vision is that the new Echo Buttons will enable a fun and engaging way for families to interact with our Hasbro games, building a bridge between our industry leading games portfolio and Alexa, which continues to delight customers through innovative voice driven experiences. This starts with Trivial Pursuit, but there is more to come.”
“What makes interactive audio so great is that the only thing that’s required to play our games is your voice, and with the addition of the new Echo Buttons, multiplayer games are now possible, providing each player with a unique connection to the game,” said Mike Macadaan, CEO of Ground Control. “Imagine your favorite actor, musician, or sports star as your virtual game host while you challenge your whole family or a group of friends to play. Using the Gadgets Skill API, we have created a unique blend of technology and pop culture that will take gaming to a new level.”
“Voice is a natural interface for gaming and with the introduction of Echo Buttons, customers have a new and engaging way to interact with our Beat the Intro skill,” said Kevin Deakin, founder and CEO of Musicplode Media. “We can’t wait to bring customers a fun and playful experience where they can compete head to head to be the first one to buzz in and name the tune. The Gadgets Skill API made it incredibly easy to create the next generation of Beat the Intro and we look forward to building additional voice experiences for our customers.”
The Alexa Gadgets SDK and Gadgets Skill API will be available via developer preview later this year. Developers interested in building their own Alexa Gadgets or creating skills for Echo Buttons can sign up to be notified on availability of the developer tools.
Like similar devices at this stage in product development, Echo Buttons have not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. Echo Buttons are not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.