/ amazon

Open Letter to Amazon Echo Developers - What should Alexa be able to do?

Dear Amazon developers,

Please read the modest words of one of your customers who is very excited about your product but has few big issues with it.

1) Allow Amazon Skills or similar to be hosted on Amazon Echo (yes on the proper device)

Right now Amazon Alexa Skills are hosted in cloud and setting it up to make a trip back and talk to my devices is quite complicated as you need a web server (setting up server, dynamic domain name, firewall etc.) that understands Alexa responses. Which also means that your web server needs some kind of authentication otherwise you leave your IoT devices opened to the world.

I would really loved to have Amazon Echo talking to my IoT devices locally.
From what I understood as for now Amazon Echo can only talk to local devices with are on your supported devices list. My advice is do Hue, SmartThings, WeMo and others for customers that want to just plug and play. But please don’t limit it this way for developers and geeks!

What I would suggest is placing a tiny service such as https://ifttt.com on the Amazon Echo device accessible via it’s LAN IP where it would be possible to run TCP/IP client and relay commands. The simplest example would be talking to Arduino Ethernet that runs TCP/IP Server and listens to specific string commands or let developers install Skills on the proper device.

Amazon Echo with local Alexa Skills

This would satisfy most of the home automation systems and most importantly it would get communities of prototyping boards like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, BeagleBone to do useful and crazy stuff with it. You won’t loose anything as you still get your precious voice data from us users to feed Alexa.

And let’s face it, Google Home is your biggest competitor and their Assistant is better at understanding users.
The only reason I haven’t switched to it is that you guys have marvelous Amazon Skills which allows me to customize it.
But … as soon as Google comes up with something similar and they will … I’ll be gone and many like me as well.
Microsoft might be working on its own home assistant based on Cortana and I bet it will get immediate SDK for .NET and Azure … I’ll be gone as well.

If you decide to do above please keep on reading…

2) Location and naming

I would like to stick Amazon Echo/Dot in every room. I would like to configure its location, let’s say Kitchen.
Mini ifttt-like service described above would allow me to configure room bounded commands.
For example to the Amazon Echo in the kitchen I would say:

“Alexa, lights off”

instead of

“Alexa, Kitchen lights off”.

However, the same device would allow me switch lights in other rooms by saying:

“Alex, dinning lights off”

**3) Allow more customization of voice commands
**
Saying:

“Alexa, ask whatever to turn lights on in the kitchen”

is just way to long and therefore not practical.

Conclusion

So yes, I’m already using it by controlling my home office: http://klaatuveratanecto.com/building-voice-controlled-home-with-amazon-echo-and-dot/ and yes as for now is just a toy and you know it!
It’s cool to play with it in my free time.
It’s cool to show it off to my friends when they come around.
And I have to stop here.

It has a great potential but needs to open more!

I hope you will take it into consideration!

Regards,

Klaatu Verata Necto