An intelligent Smart home assistant - Alexa

15.09.2020.

Who is Alexa?

In 2014, Amazon created Alexa, a virtually intelligent assistant, i.e. a personal intelligent assistant. Although this sentence sounds as if some high-tech robot is hiding behind Alexa's name, Alexa is nothing but well-designed and developed software.

When we say "intelligent assistant", we mean and expect:

- speech interaction (commands, asking questions …),

- control of devices that are part of home automation,

- creation I e. active monitoring of to-do lists,

- playback of movies, music, audiobooks, podcasts...

- per minute of updated information on the news (weather, traffic, sports …).

Also, it is important to note that we expect all this information by simply asking a question.

The very fact that we don't even have to push a button to contact Alexa was a turning point in integrating it into much larger, more important and more complex software. Thus, among other things, Alexa found itself on the list of Smart Home user interface types Smart Home user interface.

Alexa, good morning!

When we developed ways in which our users would be able to manage a Smart Home, the intelligent assistant seemed like a great "partner" to the Smart Home software itself. Alexa can control multiple smart devices using itself as a system and a simple command "Alexa, good morning" can launch a scenario for waking up in the morning: turning off the alarm, raising the blinds, adjusting the air conditioning, underfloor heating, playing music ... No need to get up from bed to get to the control panel, it is not necessary to turn on the mobile phone ... It is enough to stretch and - say what you want. The question is often asked, "How does Alexa hear?". Very simple - by placing small devices similar to speakers in certain parts of the apartment/house.

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Alexa, we have a guest!

The team that develops Alexa's "abilities" almost regularly expands its capabilities by enriching the software with new skills.

One of the scenarios that quickly became popular is the command we give when we have a guest or more guests at once. From creating a romantic atmosphere to turning a living room into a disco club, a simple voice command will activate the whole scenario. Even if you haven't managed to create a scenario for a home party, Alexa will do everything you need in a minute: dim the lights, play MTV hits, turn on the ventilation, unlock the front door ... As long as the commands coming from the user are clear, the assistant performs its tasks flawlessly..

Alexa, good night!

During 2019, research was done on the topic of what was crucial for Alexa's huge success. If there are already three user interfaces offered by a Smart Home, why is it just a voice, ie. intelligent assistant, is the most popular? What's the secret?

We found the answer in the fact that Alexa, although she always seems to "listen" to what we say, still has her limitations that we can manage. Alexa is activated only when we use a keyword or phrase to "wake up". Just listening to the piece lasts 8 seconds after you say the command you expect it to execute. Although there is an option to store the commands you send to Alexa on the cloud, there is always the option to turn off Alexa, ie. the mute option, which will stop activating Alexa even after using the keyword or phrase we use to "wake it up".

Apart from the fact that it is clear to all of us that the voice interaction option is useful and easy to use (which is crucial for most users, regardless of their age), a large share makes it a simple pleasure to reduce some actions to which we were already accustomed as well as adapting Alexa to be a home assistant when needed.

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As long as we don't expect Alexa to make some important life decisions for us, it will be more than enough that, in case you fall asleep again with your favorite movie on, you can say without opening your eyes: "Alexa, good night!" and know that the alarm will be set for tomorrow morning, that the blinds will be lowered, that the lights will be turned off, that the TV will be turned off ... The only thing that's left is someone else to cover you, but we will still have to wait for a more advanced version of Alexa.