With hands-free operation, Amazon Alexa makes it even easier to watch TV

Amazon Alexa
Do you think watching television can’t get any easier? Amazon Alexa will make you think again.

Helping you live your best life as a couch potato is Amazon Alexa, whose latest functionality involves the hands-free operation of your TV set. If you’re a television fanatic located in the U.S., you can now ask Alexa on your Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show to turn on (or off) your TV (as well as any AV receivers or IR hub). As of Thursday, customers can control their 2017 Sony 4K HDR Android TVs and certain 2016 Sony 4K HDR Android TVs, a Logitech IR Hub, or a BroadLink remote control with just their voice.

“Today, we are excited to introduce entertainment capabilities as part of the Smart Home Skill API,” Amazon announced. Whereas you could previously control a smart TV by way of Alexa, you still had to invoke a specific skill. But now, you can just say, “Alexa, turn on the TV,” “Alexa, fast forward,” “Alexa, make it louder,” or “Alexa, switch input to Blu-ray.”

Given that use of hands-free virtual assistants is on the rise, it comes as little surprise that Amazon is giving Alexa as many skills as possible, and as quickly as possible. Indeed, this may be the reason for the AI assistant’s burgeoning popularity — it looks as though Alexa might be on its way to eclipsing Siri in that area.

Developers will likely be happy to know that they won’t need to create a voice interaction model for their new TV skill. “Because the Smart Home Skill API taps into Amazon’s standardized Alexa language model, you don’t need to build the voice interaction model for your skill,” Amazon noted. “Alexa will understand the customer’s speech, convert it to a directive, and send that directive to your skill adapter. Your skill adapter can then communicate with your device to act on the directive and send a response back to Alexa.”

As it stands, this new Alexa capability is available to U.S. developers, and Amazon promises that support for U.K. and Germany is coming soon.

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