Ever since companies first started coming out with voice assistants, we’ve speculated over what their role will look like in the kitchen. Guided cooking? Grocery shopping? Or just simply setting a timer when your hands are dirty?

That’s one of the questions we’ll dive into with speaker Ben McInnis, Senior Manager of Amazon’s Alexa Connect Kit, at the Smart Kitchen Summit {SKS} in Seattle next month. To get a sneak preview of what’s to come, we chatted over email with McInnis about Amazon’s roadmap for voice in the kitchen and how Alexa can make your bacon taste exactly the way you like it.

Check out the Q&A below and don’t forget to snag your tickets to SKS — they’re going fast!

Note: This Q&A has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about the Alexa Connect Kit.
Alexa Connect Kit is a new way for device makers to create Alexa-compatible smart devices more easily and quickly than traditional smart device development. Through this program, device makers integrate an Amazon-managed hardware module and the provided software development kit into their product. This module, which is also a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip, securely connects to Alexa and other Amazon services like Dash Replenishment.

All devices built with the Alexa Connect Kit also feature Amazon’s Wi-Fi simple setup technology, which makes it easier for customers to set up devices in fewer steps. Device makers that using the Alexa Connect Kit don’t need to maintain a cloud service, create an app, write an Alexa Skill, or invest in things like a device setup experience. We also offer the Alexa Connect Kit for a single, per-device fee. So, unlike with more traditional models of device development, device makers have certainty about their costs, no matter how much customers use their product.

The Alexa microwave is already available. What other kitchen appliances do you think would take well to pairing with voice assistants?
The best thing about working with so many device makers and developers is that they’re always thinking of creative new products. Our partners Hamilton Beach, P&G, Spectrum Brands, and others have already announced devices built with the Alexa Connect Kit, and I expect that almost all the devices we commonly use will be connected eventually.

Voice control is a big part of what’s driving the growth in smart kitchen device popularity, but simple control is really just the beginning. Devices are integrating with Amazon Dash Replenishment Service to enable automatic reordering of consumables and developers are now able to add new recipes and presets to their devices entirely from the cloud.

Amazon’s Super Bowl ad last year listed out “failed” Alexa integrated products (toothbrush, dog collar, etc). How do you decide which products will actually be improved with voice control?
Obviously, we’re poking fun at ourselves a bit but the meta point is very true. We’re convicted about the idea that an ambient intelligence with a voice interface can add enormous utility for customers by making devices and services easier to use. That utility takes many forms and varies by device type and the customer’s context, but our default is that whenever we can make something more convenient or valuable for customers by adding voice control, it’s worth investigating.

How do you think that voice technology will change the way we buy and cook food?
Customers already use Alexa to order food and; with Dash Replenishment-enabled devices, this is sometimes automated, too. Similarly, there are many Alexa-compatible cooking devices in customers’ homes already and, mostly, people use Alexa to control those devices.

For example, you might ask Alexa to set your Instant Pot to a given program, to check on the status of something cooking in your June Oven, or to reheat a cup of coffee in your AmazonBasics Microwave. Going forward, you’ll see more devices that take advantage of their connection to Alexa to do things like add new recipes, fine-tune the performance of a preset with data about your specific preferences, or work across many connected devices to execute a complex dish.

It’s useful to ask your oven to preheat to cook some bacon. But having it know that you like bacon extra crispy is even better.

Keep an eye out for more speaker Q&A’s as we ramp up to our fifth year of SKS on October 7-8 in Seattle! We hope to see you there.

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