Alexa Now Your Smart Home Assistant As Amazon Echo Adds SmartThings Device Support

Amazon's been working hard to improve Alexa, the cloud-based voice service that makes its Echo gadget more than just an ordinary Bluetooth speaker. Back in June, Amazon made available its Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it easy for developers to improve Alexa's skill set. Now Amazon is launching a Lighting API for Alexa with the Samsung-owned SmartThings platform jumping on board.

It takes just a few hours for developers who can code in Java or JavaScript to use the Lighting API to teach Alexa how to control their cloud-controlled devices, Amazon claims. Doing so doesn't require any experience with speech recognition or natural language understanding -- that's all baked into Alexa, which handles hearing, understanding, and processing spoken requests.

Amazon Echo SmartThings

This opens us a new avenue of functionality for home users. In addition to barking commands at Echo for music playback and Internet searches, an Echo owner with the appropriate hardware can say things like, "Alexa, dim the kitchen light to 50 percent" or "Alexa, turn off the living room light."

Adding the Lighting API was key to getting Samsung's SmartThings on board.

"We integrated a variety of products that work with the SmartThings open platform to work with Alexa," said Dora Hsu, Chief Platform Officer, SmartThings. "Using Alexa’s Lighting APIs, we were able to write, test, and deploy in a matter of days. It couldn't have been easier, and we are excited for customers to try out what we've created for them."

What's neat about this integration is that users can not only control SmartThings-compatible devices through Echo, but also items plugged into a SmartThings Power Outlet, as shown in the video above.

This is a win for both Amazon and Samsung, both of which up their products' respective stock by piggybacking on one another. And as time goes on, we wouldn't be surprised to see additional functionality come into play, like being able to set lighting timers..