Looks can be deceiving, and the Amazon Echo is the best way to describe that. Amazon has been betting big on Alexa, the virtual assistant built into Amazon Echo. At first, it felt like the Amazon Echo would mimic the failure of the fire phone, having absolutely no utility except another way of shopping from Amazon. But Alexa maintained a steady growth, carving a niche area for itself and slowly becoming one of the major hubs of the IoT network. Amazon Echo is a voice-controlled speaker intelligent enough to tell you about almost anything which requires searching for information on the internet. But it comes with a significant advantage of being able to communicate with your Internet-connected smart devices and control them, acting as automated smart hub.
Now, Amazon has expanded Alexa’s ‘skill’ to unlock doors with a just a voice command. Amazon Echo has been used earlier to control Belkin WeMo switches, or Wi-Fi enabled lightbulbs. But in a first of its kind partnership to control door locks, August integrated their product August Smart Lock into Amazon Alexa’s SDK, allowing the user to control the door lock or check if the door is locked from anywhere. The August Smart Lock was launched in February 2015 and garnered a lot of positive reviews owing to its ease of installation and use. In addition to unlocking doors, it can assign virtual keys to visitors and monitoring usage. Now, August has stepped up its game with the integration of August Smart Lock with Alexa, allowing all Alexa users to control the locks without any additional hub.
According to August, this feature will be supported by 1st and 2nd generation August Smart Locks, although both have to purchase the $79 wireless bridge to enable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for the smart-lock. The bridge is conveniently available at Amazon Launchpad and is also available for order through Alexa. The only drawback of using Alexa to unlock August Smart Lock is that the door cannot be unlocked by voice commands due to security issues. August Smart Lock also partnered with Apple, Airbnb, Logitech, Nest and Xfinity Home to provide a streamlined service to its customers.
Amazon is investing significantly in Alexa to compete with Google Home and Apple’s home automation platform HomeKit. Amazon published Alexa’s SDK and also released the Smart Home Skill API to make it significantly easier for developers to integrate new and different skills into Alexa. Amazon also offered exclusive Amazon Prime deals through Alexa to popularize the use of the device. Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos believes that along with Amazon Web Services, Amazon Prime, and Amazon marketplace, Alexa will be a huge driving force for the growth and sustenance of Amazon.