While over 50% of Echos end up in the kitchen, a lack of cooking-specific commands and categories within the popular voice assistant’s smart home API has meant few people actually prepare food with Alexa today.
But that could soon change.
That’s because today Amazon introduced built-in cooking controls for cooking appliances into the Alexa smart home API. Initially rolling out in microwaves from Whirlpool and others, the new cooking capabilities will let users define time and temperature parameters and will eventually use the Alexa voice interface to walk through cooking a meal.
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. 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.”
Initially, there are four new capability interfaces in the Smart Home Skill API – Alexa.Cooking, Alexa.Cooking.TimeController, Alexa.TimeHoldController, and Alexa.CookingPresetController. You can leverage these interfaces today for microwaves and for appliances that support preset cooking. The interfaces are designed for future extensibility as support for more cooking devices becomes available.
The new Alexa cooking capability understands food categories (for example, Alexa will take a food term from the Echo user – such as “sockeye salmon” – to categorize food in the “Fish” category) and cooking modes. Appliance makers are able define their different cooking modes that are discoverable within the Alexa app, which means users will be able to access modes such as “defrost” in products such as Whirlpool’s line of connected microwaves. The new cooking capability from Amazon also allows appliance makers to make their presets libraries available through Alexa.
While Whirlpool’s expected to be the first to launch the new Alexa cooking capability for its connected microwaves (no exact date has been given), Amazon also announced Samsung, GE, Kenmore and LG are all working to bring the new Alexa cooking capability to market.
And finally, one last piece of news embedded in the announcement: The company has invested in June, high profile maker of the June connected oven, via the Alexa fund. This means, of course, you can expect the June oven to work with Alexa’s cooking capabilities sometime in 2018.