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Alexa brings hands-free TV to more devices

Alexa brings hands-free TV to more devices
From TechCrunch - July 13, 2017

Alexas latest trick is offering a hands-free TV viewing experience, that will allow consumers to turn on or off their television, change inputs, fast forward, rewind and more, without having to first invoke a specific skill, or even press a button on their remote. Instead, makers of smart home devices are today adding new entertainment controls to their own skills, which allow customers to control a variety of devices, including TVs, as well as AV receivers, IR hubs and even connected speakers.

Amazon says this new capability is today available via the smart home skills from Sony, Logitech Harmony, and BroadLink, while others from Denon, Creston, LG and Pulse-Eight are coming soon. The skills are first available to U.S. users, with support for U.K. and Germany arriving in the future.

The companies are using an updated Smart Home Skill API to make the hands-free TV and media player control possible. Because this API already uses Amazons standardized Alexa language model, the companies dont have to build out their own voice interactions for their existing skills, Amazon explains.

Alexa will understand the users speech, convert it into a command, and then send it to the skill adapter that communicates with the device in question.

For consumers, what this means is that youll be able to just talk to Alexa to control your TV or other entertainment devices without having to remember to invoke a particular skill. So, for example, you could just say things like, Alexa, turn on the TV, Alexa, fast forward, Alexa, make it louder, or Alexa, switch input to Blu-Ray.

This is not the first time that Alexa has been used for hands-free TV. In May, Dish rolled out an Alexa integration that allowed its pay TV customers using either its Hopper or Wally receiver to search for programs, change channels, rewind and fast-forward television, and more, just by speaking, in much of the same way.

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