How Alexa is disrupting the Home Automation
Alexa is not so longer a stratum of voice controls that complements other smart home systems like Alphabet’s Nest, Samsung SmartThings, Lowe’s Iris and Philips Hue. As an alternative, it’s becoming a complete smart-home platform, interchanging most of the functionalities that those other systems deliver.
At present, Amazon is not ready to play a supportive role in smart homes any longer. Moreover, it wants a hand in each interaction, even if voice isn’t involved.
Alexa’s New Smart Home Skills
Amazon describes a latest version of its Alexa Smart Home API as “the biggest improvement … from its launch in April 2016.”
The utmost notable change is backing for routines that elicit numerous actions at a time. This lets a user to utter “Alexa, goodnight,” so that the system will lock doors, turn off lights, and lower the regulator. Even Alexa will provide more feedback on device condition, so that the users can check thermostat temperature or enquire if any lights are switched on. In the meantime, the Alexa application will serve as a vital dashboard, where the users can monitor and handle their devices.
These are not the new concepts for Alexa and even for the smart-home systems. For example, Samsung’s SmartThings platform is already supporting many multi-device routines through which the users can trigger many Alexa voice commands. So, instead of depending on those enterprises for home automation, the tech-giant Amazon today wants to lever the automation for itself.
A Big Bet on Protocols
Yet, Amazon can’t replace all-other smart-home hubs without giving one of its own. Moreover, the company has announced a new connected speaker named Echo Plus. It has the similar design as of original Echo, but complements a ZigBee radio internally.
Though ZigBee isn’t a domestic name, its energy efficacy and wide range have made it a well-known wireless protocol for switches, smart lights, sensors, locks and cameras. Echo Plus can interconnect with those devices straight, minimizing the need for extra bridges and hubs.
Amazon’s parallel tech giants have been hesitant to take this rung. Even Apple has ducked up building a HomeKit hub, which can have led users to deal with third-party bridges as an alternative. And whereas Google’s OnHub and Wi-Fi routers include ZigBee radios, which can control Philips Hue bulbs over a smartphone application. But, Google hasn’t used these radios to craft a wider smart-home hub.
Some of the smart-home vendors may argue that their own bridges and hubs are still essential. For example, George Yianni, the head of technology for home systems in Philips Lighting has stated that the Hue Bridge has close-fitting integration with the firm’s light bulbs when compared to third-party bridges.
“Philips Hue bridge is not going anywhere, moreover it enables us to keep toting to this experience,” Yianni stated. “Customers can enjoy 700 third-party apps, Hue custom scenes, sensors and switches, new entertainment competences, and more with the Philips Hue bridge.”
But Amazon might have an answer to this, dormant within the bizarre announcement from its latest press event: Far ahead this year, Amazon will be going to launch a new group of “Alexa Gadgets” that can receive and send commands from the devices like Echo. Smart button, will be the first of those gadgets that can serves as a beeper for trivia games.
At present, Amazon is diving Alexa Gadgets as a fun distraction. Yet, the primary tools embrace the ability to react to Alexa notifications, move motors, synchronize with music or sounds, and even send commands back to Alexa. These capabilities could empower a new wave of smart-home triggers like door locks, light switches, and motion sensors–all with in-depth tie to Alexa. It even fills out the missing piece in Amazon’s smart-home platform that is the ability to have one device quick an action on another.
All these things should place Amazon on a level playing field with Apple company, whose HomeKit framework includes both the underlying routines and triggers (through the Home app) and the voice interaction layer (through Siri). The latest strategy even turns out Alphabet’s Nest and Samsung’s SmartThings into more competitors, as they support Alexa voice directives on their own platforms.
Moreover, Alexa is just no longer a benevolent voice assistant that plays well with additional smart-home platforms. With heaps of Echos in kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms, and a year-and-a-half of ensued acquaintance about how smart-home devices should operate, Amazon is going to war.