In September, we announced new experiences to make the Alexa-enabled smart home even more natural and proactive. Today, we are excited to announce you can now enable Alexa to proactively act on Hunches without customers needing to ask. If you are a smart light, plug, or switch manufacturer, Alexa will automatically support Hunches for your devices using your existing Smart Home Skill API integration. If you make thermostats, you can now use the new Alexa.AutomationManagement API to enable proactive automation via Hunches.
With Hunches, your new and existing devices become even smarter with Alexa and more useful for your customers with little to no added development effort. Customers can choose to have Alexa proactively control their compatible devices, such as automatically turning off their lights 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.
If you already have a smart home skill for your lights, plugs, and switches, there is little to no extra development effort you need to do to enable Hunches. With Hunches, Alexa leverages the Alexa PowerController API via your smart home skill to help customers automate their home and reduce energy consumption by automatically turning off the lights that are accidentally left on 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. Smart light manufacturers such as Philips Hue, TP-Link, LIFX, Sengled, Wemo, eWeLink, IKEA and more are have enabled Hunches to proactively help their customers.
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 now 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.
If your device already supports existing automation capabilities, such as a smart thermostat, you can now 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.
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 has integrated the Alexa.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.
You can now 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 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. Now, 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.