Coming Soon: Enable Alexa to Proactively Act on Hunches Without Customers Needing to Ask

Ben Grossman Sep 24, 2020
Smart Home Connected Devices News

Alexa has already helped millions of customers with features like Hunches so they never forget to lock their front door at night or turn off their basement light. We’re inventing new experiences to make the Alexa-enabled smart home even more natural and proactive, one that is contextual enough to act on customers’ behalf. In the coming months, manufacturers of smart lights, thermostats, water heaters, and robotic vacuums can enable Alexa to proactively act on hunches without customers needing to ask. Currently, if Alexa has a hunch about your customers’ smart devices, Alexa will inform them so they can take action. For example, if Alexa has a hunch that a customer forgot to turn off the kitchen lights before going to bed, the customer would be reminded. Customers can soon choose to have Alexa proactively control their compatible devices, such as automatically turning off their lights, starting their robotic vacuum, setting their water heater to an energy saving mode, or adjusting their thermostat temperature when Alexa has a hunch they are away from the home or asleep. That means customers have fewer things to think about when at home or away so they can spend their time on more meaningful things. For device makers, your products become even smarter with Alexa and more valuable for your customers with little to no added effort. If you are a smart light, plug, switch, or robotic vacuum manufacturer, Alexa will automatically support Hunches for your devices using your existing Smart Home Skill API integration. If you make thermostats, you can soon use the new Alexa.AutomationManagement API to enable proactive automation via Hunches. You can sign up here to be notified when these features are available.


Leverage Your Existing Smart Home Skill API Integrations for Lights, Plugs, Switches, and Robotic Vacuums

Smart light manufacturers such as Philips Hue, TP-Link, LIFX, Sengled, Wemo, IKEA and more and robotic vacuum manufacturers like iRobot and Eufy use the Alexa PowerController API to enable customers to control their lights and robotic vacuums with voice and routines. With Hunches, Alexa will use these same PowerController directives to help customers save energy by automatically turning off the lights that are accidentally left on, or start cleaning the house when Alexa has a hunch that no one is home.

Alexa can generate hunches by learning from customers’ usage patterns, such as when they speak to Alexa and when they interact with your smart home devices, enabled by your device’s state and change reporting that you already share with Alexa. When you report your device’s state and changes to Alexa, you also make Alexa and Hunches smarter by keeping Alexa informed when your device is turned on and off, delivering better experiences for customers. Higher quality reports enable better Hunches and customer experiences.


Help Your Customers Save Energy by Automatically Turning on Their Water Heater’s Energy Saving Mode

You can soon enable Alexa to proactively turn on your water heater’s energy saving mode when Alexa has a hunch that customers are away. Manufactures of water heaters and water heater controllers such as Rheem and Aquanta already use Alexa’s ToggleController to enable customers to turn on their water heater energy saving mode using their voice. Manufactures may use different names for their water heaters’ energy saver modes, such as “eco”, “energy saver”, “away mode”, and more. Coming soon, you can enable Hunches for your specific energy saver mode using new semantic extensions by updating the Alexa Discovery response for your existing ToggleController and ModeController capabilities. You specify a semantics state mapping of Alexa.States.EnergySaver to indicate the Toggle/Mode Controller instance that represents your energy saving mode. For example, if you use the ToggleController capability, Alexa uses the state mapping to send you a TurnOn directive corresponding to your specific energy saving mode when Alexa has a hunch that no one is home. Similarly, Alexa will disable the energy saving mode by sending a TurnOff directive when Alexa has a Hunch that your customer’s home is occupied.

“We are excited to partner with Alexa to bring smart water heater control to the Alexa ecosystem. Aquanta enables customers to heat water when they need it, and save money when they don’t. Soon, when Alexa has a hunch that no one is home, she will automatically turn off an Aquanta-enabled water heater to reduce energy usage and save money.” said Matt Carlson, CEO of Aquanta.


Enable Alexa to Proactively Set the Thermostat to Your Customers’ Preferred Temperature

Thermostat manufacturers like Resideo’s Honeywell Home solutions already use the Alexa.ThermostatController.SetTargetTemperature directive to enable customers to control their smart thermostat with their voice. With Hunches, Alexa can soon help your customers save energy by using these same SetTargetTemperature directives to proactively set the thermostat to your customer’s preferred away or sleep temperatures when Alexa has a Hunch they are away or asleep.


Coordinate Control Between Your Device’s Existing Automation and Hunches

If your device already supports existing automation capabilities, such as a smart thermostat, you can soon integrate the new Alexa.AutomationManagement API to coordinate when Alexa Hunches or your device controls automation. When you implement the AutomationManagement interface, Alexa notifies you when the customer opts in to use Hunches to automate their device via the Alexa app, and you notify Alexa via a ChangeReport when the customer wants to use your existing automation to control their device, such as setting a temperature schedule in your companion app. This minimizes scheduling conflicts and provides a consistent experience, helping your customers know if you or Alexa are controlling their device actions and how their feature choices change their device’s behavior. The AutomationManagement API will first support thermostats, with more devices coming soon.

To help customers know whether your device or Alexa Hunches control automation, you will need to update your product experience. This will ensure customers are always aware of how their device is operating. For example, Resideo’s Honeywell Home solutions is integrating the AutomationManagement API to coordinate when to turn off their thermostats’ schedule and geofence features in their companion app and to indicate that the thermostat is using Alexa Hunches. They also inform customers who are trying to create custom automations in their companion app, such as a temperature schedules, that doing so will disable Hunches. If a customer chooses to enable Resideo’s thermostat schedule, Alexa Hunches will be disabled to ensure the customer’s feature choice is selected.


Sign Up to be Notified When These Capabilities Become Available

You can sign up here to be notified when these capabilities are available in the coming months. You can also sign up here to be notified when the Toggle and Mode controller semantic actions are available for water heater controllers.