When at relaxing at home or even tacking a problem at the office, it is much more convenient to ask a question to a device rather than having to look up the information (or finding your cell phone to speak into it).
And, if it worked for all the Captains of the Enterprise and Tony Stark, chances are it can help us as well.
In that realm of personal assistants and home automation that do not require the use of a cell phone or tablet, two products are leading the way: Google Home and Amazon Alexa. What are those things? Let's head out to Wikipedia:
Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant. It is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other real time information. Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation hub.
We decided to start with Amazon's Alexa and are adding this technology as a new communication channel on SmartNotify. As of January 2017, if you are an Amazon Echo or Tap owner, you can use prompt SmartNotify and get some information like:
"Don't worry, all your trains are running on time and there is no traffic to get to the station."
"There will be a power outage tomorrow from 10 am to 2 pm, we recommend that you not try and use the elevator at that time."
In a nutshell, SmartNotify customers can broadcast news and information to their end-users via Alexa the same way they can already push to other channels. All the channels in just one click.
A city can better interact with its citizens and simplify planning, maintenance, and management while a business takes better care of its staff by sending them relevant information at the most opportune time.
And of course, our API customers can seamlessly go from their Information Systems (ArcGis, CRM...) to specific delivery channel in just a few lines of code.
As usecases and scenarios get more refined so will our Alexa Skills. In the coming months we will soon cover more scenario and also enable end-users to get personalized information based on content and context.
There is an added bonus to this integration: Knowledge. Because we value people's privacy, we had to take a deep look into how humans will interact with their home automation systems and have identified a few trouble spots.
Since showing is always simpler than telling, I invite you to subscribe our YouTube channel as we will soon release videos on the topic.
Wondering what these communication trouble spots are? Here is sneak preview:
+ How can we be sure that you are the real you when using Alexa?
+ What happens to the data you send out? How long is it stored for, is it linked to you or is it anonymous?
+ Which information are you comfortable being given when other people are within range?
If you are an Echo or Tap user go and try our skill (it's on the Amazon skill store) or better yet, please get in touch with us; we are always looking for beta users who would want to pilot our new functionalities as they become available!