Amazon is expanding the skill set of virtual assistant Alexa beyond being able to control lights and speakers – it’ll soon be able to control your microwave.
The tech giant has announced it is adding cooking capabilities to its Smart Home Skill API – the programming tools that make it possible to connect Alexa with internet-connected devices.
This means that appliance manufacturers will now be able to create Alexa Skills that enable users to control their cooking appliances using the voice-activated assistant.
Amazon confirmed the feature had gone live in the US, with other countries to follow shortly.
“Customers are increasingly using voice user interfaces (VUIs) as a hands-free way to manage their lives, and hands-free control is especially valuable when cooking,” Amazon’s Mike Maas wrote in a blog post.
“With the built-in cooking device controls in the Smart Home Skill API, you will make it easier for your customers to control your cloud-connected microwave.
“Instead of pressing multiple buttons to enable advanced microwave features, your customers can now use their voices. For example, a customer can say ‘Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken’ or ‘Alexa, microwave for 50 seconds on high’.”
Amazon said Whirlpool had already created a Skill for its connected microwaves that would launch soon, while Kenmore, LG and Samsung were also named among the companies working on cooking-centric Skills for Alexa.
Amazon’s smart home business has become the biggest in the market over the last two years thanks to its range of Echo smart speakers – all of which are powered by Alexa.
As a result, increasing numbers of third-party companies have moved to add Alexa compatibility to their products so that Echo speakers and Alexa-compatible smartphones can be used to control appliances around the home.
Now Amazon is making strides to expand that trend beyond lights, door locks and televisions, and into the kitchen.