Amazon has announced an expansion of the Alexa Skill API which gives skill developers and device manufacturers more natural ways to control media devices like TVs, remotes, A/V receivers, and IR hubs. This new capability is surely what will make it possible to control the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick using Alexa devices, which is a new feature that Amazon accidentally leaked yesterday.
These new capabilities will allow Alexa devices like the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot to remotely control media playback and settings on entertainment devices. Example commands that are now possible for developers to implement are “Alexa, turn on the TV,” “Alexa, fast forward,” “Alexa, make it louder,” or “Alexa, switch input to Blu-Ray.”
Sony has already implemented these new abilities into their Alexa smart home skill for some of their 2017 4K HDR televisions to control power on/off, change volume, switch inputs, and control media playback. Harmony has also already used the new features to improve their Alexa skill. Where before they needed two different skills to achieve the controls they wanted, the one smart home skill can now control volume, channels, and media playback. This removes the need of having to say “Alexa, ask Harmony to turn up the volume” and lets users of Harmony’s remotes now simply say “Alexa, turn up the volume” and other natural commands.
Broadlink has also worked with Amazon to already implement the new capabilities to their home automation hubs. Alexa skills from Denon, Crestron, LG and Pulse-Eight which use these new features will be coming soon.