Amazon Releases Alexa Skills Kit Including Self-Service APIs and Tools

Mobile Tech
Posted 6/30/2015 1:05:42 PM by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

Amazon Releases Alexa Skills Kit Including Self-Service APIs and Tools
Amazon has released the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), a collection of self-service APIs and tools to help developers create new voice-driven capabilities for Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service that is behind the Amazon Echo device. Echo is a hybrid speaker that also offers voice recognition for answering questions and controlling smart devices.

The Alexa voice service that powers Echo, offers a set of built-in abilities, or skills, that enable customers to interact with devices in a more intuitive way using voice. Examples of these skills include the ability to play music, answer general questions, set an alarm and more. With the Alexa Skills Kit, developers can build and add “skills” to Alexa to provide voice driven functionality. Customers can access skills by asking Alexa a question or making a command.

Developers that have an existing cloud-based service can use that service to start working with the kit. Or they can utilize the AWS Lambda compute service to build a cloud-based service. To get started with the Alexa Skills Kit, Amazon recommends reviewing the following materials in order:

- Read the Getting Started Guide, which details how users interact with a specific type of Alexa skill and how to conduct a conversation with customers.

- Read the AWS Lambda documentation.

- Check out the Voice Design Handbook for best practices on voice user interface design.

- Review the Alexa Skills Interface Reference to learn more about the syntax of the requests that will be sent to a specific service.

- Check out the reference skills to see sample code.

- Learn how to test a new skill with an Amazon Echo.

- Sign up for a free account and register on the developer portal.

Amazon has set up the $100 million Alexa Fund which is open to anyone with an innovative idea, from early-stage pre-revenue companies that are just starting out to established brands, for the Alexa voice technology. Areas of particular interest to Amazon include: 

- Hardware products for inside or outside the home that would benefit from Alexa’s voice interface.

- Alexa experiences that deliver new abilities to Alexa-enabled devices.

- New contributions to the science behind voice technology, including text to speech, natural language understanding, and automatic speech recognition.

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About the author: RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

As the Publisher and Editor for App Developer Magazine, Richard has several industry recognitions and endorsements from tech companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google for accomplishments in the mobile market. He was part of the early Google AFMA program, and also involved in the foundation of Google TV. He has been developing for mobile since 2003 and serves as CEO of Moonbeam Development, a mobile app company with 200 published titles in various markets throughout the world. Richard is also the founder of LunarAds, a mobile cross-promotion and self-serv mediation network for developers. He has been a featured presenter at trade-shows and conferences, and stays active with new projects relating to mobile development.

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