Developers interested in building their own array of Alexa-powered devices will have some new tools to work with thanks to the arrival of a software-development kit and a hardware reference design introduced by Amazon during Thursday’s marathon Echo event.
Amazon unveiled the Alexa Presentation Language, a new design language that will help developers build and arrange their own skills on Alexa devices with a screen. And developers that want to build their own smart televisions or microwaves or who knows what else will be able to draw from a software-development kit and an Amazon-designed chip that comes with the technology that activates a device once it hears the magic word.
The Alexa Presentation Language dictates how Alexa skills should work on screens, which is a relatively new area for the Alexa program and developers used to building skills for Echo devices without screens. It provides guidance around text size, slideshow displays, and layout design for developers, among other things.
Amazon rolled out a total of nine new developer tools during the event, where a total of 13 new devices were also introduced. Developers will be able to build voice-control features into all sorts of new devices with an update to the Smart Home Skill API, and the Alexa Connect Kit will allow device makers to connect their wares to Alexa by wiring a module into their products.
The tools will allow basement hobbyists and well-funded startups to spread Amazon’s Alexa technology into a whole range of new areas, which could also help establish it as the go-to voice service amid stiff competition from Apple, Google, and Microsoft. All these companies offer ways for developers to use their voice assistant technologies in their own products, but haven’t found much traction in this area, according to The Wall Street Journal.