AI assistant Alexa has broken free from its Amazon Echo speakers and will now be available via an Android app and third-party hardware.
The online retailing and cloud giant has announced the launch of its Alexa Voice Services in the UK, which makes available the cloud-based Alexa to third-party devices.
One of the first products to come out in the UK bearing Alexa is the Logitech’s ZeroTouch, a £50 ($62) dashboard mount for a smartphone. An app runs on an Android phone that uses the device’s camera to detect the driver’s hand gesture to command Alexa to do something.
The app is fully integrated with Alexa and has access to all its ‘Skills’ – chunks of function contributed to Alexa, often by independent developers, to support specific use cases. The app, also called Zero Touch, can change your compatible thermostat from the road, so when you get home, your house is heated or cooled, tell Alexa to turn on your compatible smart lights on your way home from work and lock the front door when you’ve already left the home. It can also make calls, send text messages and get navigation directions.
Patric Frank, head of new ventures at Logitech, said that the combination of Alexa with a dashboard mount meant that the “possibilities are endless – even while on the road”.
“The marriage of Logitech ZeroTouch and Alexa make it possible for drivers to not only use their voice to control more than just their smartphone, but all smart devices kept at home, before they even get there,” he said.
Aaron Brown, director of Amazon Alexa, said: “Voice is the future, and this is particularly true in cars. The ability to use your voice to control your smart home, manage to-do lists, access Kindle content, and more makes for a safer, more enjoyable driving experience.”
In a blog post, Ted Karczewski, content marketing manager of Alexa Voice Service at Amazon, said that device manufacturers with global reach can easily upgrade their connected products with Alexa and provide new product features and capabilities to UK and German customers.
“With a few lines of code, you can upgrade any product with Alexa to access localized languages and skills in the UK, Germany, and US. Now your end customers can speak with Alexa and receive responses and content in their preferred language and region,” he said.