Amazon’s Alexa technology has been around for a few years, but the Echo Dot has changed who is going to be buying them. At around $50, it includes the full Alexa brain, compared to $180 for the original Alexa Echo.
To expand Alexa’s knowledge developers can build their own “skills” and integrate directly into the platform. Amazon allows you to tie in at a few different levels – custom integration modules, smart homes, and something they call “Flash Briefs”. Even though Alexa’s API has been around for awhile, this is not a fully polished API that we are used to with the Amazon AWS platform, but it will get there.
I picked up my Echo Dot during the Amazon Black Friday Week sale for $33.33. Within a few hour, I set up a skill that picked up on the phrase “Alexa, tell Abby I said ‘hi’” through IFTTT that would send her an email saying “Dad says ‘hi’”. She was not amused at all.
Programming Alexa to work with IFTTT is very simple, but also extremely limited. If you simply want to turn on a light, send an email, or otherwise annoy your friends, you will be up and running in a few minutes.
Setting up Flash Briefs is a little bit tricky. The platform can push text or MP3 audio files to Alexa and are for delivering news or podcasts. No programming is needed to create a Flash Brief but just simply point Alexa to your existing podcast’s RSS feed with the appropriate content for Alexa. I wouldn’t recommend re-purposing every podcast into an Alexa skill, but if you adjust your format to deliver shorter bursts of content that easy to navigate from one story to the next, it would be an ideal way to attract new listeners.
The real power of Alexa is building a custom skill, which will require programming along the way. A lot more programming and technical skills than a beginner will want to tackle.
Listen to a podcast that Chris Brogan and I did a few months ago where we talk about the future of voice.
Do you want to build a skill for your business? I’d love to chat, set up a no-obligation meeting with me here.Leverage Alexa for Your Business
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