Smart Home Features Now Come Home With Alexa


After announcing previews for Smart Home features to help make exciting experiences for Alexa customers, Amazon noted that several of them are now generally available. Those include updates to the cooking API; semantic extensions; and support for garage door controllers as well as shades, according to a post on Amazon’s website.

The company, in one case, introduced cooking capabilities in Smart Home Skill API that let customers control microwave ovens as well as appliances that cook by preset or time. It is now releasing enhanced capabilities that enable Alexa control of coffee makers, pressure cookers, conventional ovens, slow cookers, toasters, and more. According to the announcement, “GE Appliance ovens, June Oven, and Traeger Grills are all taking advantage of these new cooking capabilities today.”

And, last autumn, the company unveiled semantic extensions for its voice assistant. It debuted range, toggle, and mode as developer “building blocks” to model a broader range of device functions. It has rolled out four semantic extensions to support utterances that use “close,” “open,” “lower” and “raise.” The semantic extensions can be used for, say, “Alexa, lower the movie screen,” or “Alexa, open the window.” The extensions can be used for “seamless” control of devices like windows, projector screens, garage doors and curtains, among others.

The “close,” “open,” “lower” and “raise” semantic extensions are particularly relevant to shades and doors per the company. According to the post, “With these extensions, garage door and shades developers can now fulfill requests across a wider, more intuitive variety of commands.” Garage door openers from Nexx, in one case, will be Alexa-enabled. IKEA shades are also now live and can be controlled through semantic extensions with Schellenberg and Lutron shades are coming soon.

In separate news, Amazon Alexa users can now receive medication reminders and make voice requests for prescription refills. Medication management features are currently being trialed with customers of the Giant Eagle Pharmacy chain, which is based in more than 200 supermarkets. The project is being rolled out in partnership with healthcare solutions firm Omnicell. 


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