Alexa Smart Home Controls Now Available via Alexa Voice Service API

Brendon Wilson Dec 10, 2019
Alexa Voice Service SDK Smart Home AVS Device SDK News

Today, Amazon is enabling Smart Home for AVS—an update to the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) API that enables voice control of smart home functionality on Alexa Built-in products. With this release, device makers can add support for Toggle, Mode, Range, and Power control APIs, previously enabled only for Smart Home Skill-based integrations.

Faster Time to Market, Lower Costs

Device makers have used AVS to launch hundreds of products with Alexa Built-in that customers can talk to and play music, ask questions, control compatible devices, and more. However, the only way for an AVS device maker to enable voice control of their product’s unique hardware was by building a separate Smart Home or Custom Alexa Skill for their device. Now with Smart Home for AVS, device makers can just re-use their AVS client to handle those Skill directives and events directly, saving time and money up-front and over the lifetime of the product. Developers can integrate the AVS API themselves directly, or can use the AVS Device SDK v1.17 to get started.

More Flexibility to Innovate

Support for these new building blocks in the AVS API significantly expands the set of experiences device makers can enable when building their Alexa devices. The API now supports the following additional capabilities:

Alexa.ToggleController: Enables Alexa to control binary on/off settings. By using the Toggle Controller interface, you can enable utterances like “Alexa, start the ice maker,” or “Alexa, disable the guest Wi-Fi.

Alexa.RangeController: Provides integration for numeric settings. By using the Range Controller interface, you can enable utterances like "Alexa, turn up the fan speed," or "Alexa, what is the temperature of the shower?"

Alexa.ModeController: Provides integration for settings that can be one of several named states or modes. These possible modes may be ordered, like low/medium/high, or unordered, such as cycles of a washing machine. By using the Mode Controller interface, you can enable utterances such as “Alexa, set the air purifier to high”, or "Alexa, set the wash cycle to delicates."

Alexa.PowerController: Provides integration to control and report the power state of a device. By using the Power Controller interface, you can enable utterances like "Alexa, turn on the robot vacuum" or “Alexa, are the sprinklers off?

These extensions enable device makers to deliver voice control for anything from simple devices like plugs, to complex home appliances like washers and dryers with several toggles, multiple groups of settings, and many modes of operation. With the recently announced non-controllable device states, developers can also use these building block API to define device states that customers can inquire about, but not control. For example, you could enable customers to ask, “Alexa, what is the surface temperature on the kitchen stove?” or “Alexa, what scent is my air freshener?”

Simpler, Faster Experiences

Such AVS-based integrations don’t require a separate Smart Home or Custom Skill, so customers don’t need to take any additional actions to enable a Skill—they can start enjoying your devices more quickly. And by directly integrating these capabilities via AVS rather than a separate Skill, you reduce the number of network hops between the device and the Alexa cloud which translates into more responsive experiences for your customers.

Get Started Today

Device makers that have an existing integration with Alexa via Smart Home Skills or AVS will not be affected by this new release. To start using these new capabilities, devices will need to transition from using the Capabilities API to Alexa.Discovery API to report their device’s capabilities. The AVS Device SDK v1.17 uses this new API without requiring any other code changes. The sample app included with the SDK illustrates how you can easily voice enable your device’s hardware features with Alexa. Get started today!