Amazon cooks up Alexa-enabled microwave plan
Amazon has developed capabilities for its Alexa Smart Home Skill API that allow other developers to create skills to allow Alexa-powered devices in the U.S. to control cooking functions on microwave ovens, according to Amazon’s Alexa developers blog.
Support for other cooking devices, such as conventional ovens, is coming soon, and capabilities will eventually be available in other countries, according to the post.
Whirlpool has already created (but not yet launched) such a skill for its line of connected microwaves that allows customers to ask Alexa to set cook times, modes and power levels.
The microwave oven was once the apex of technological development, really almost on par with putting a person on the moon. The control keypads on the ovens were supposed to be one of the things that made them so cool, allowing users to defrost, cook, reheat for any length of time all at the touch of a few buttons.
Yet, in the age of voice activation and instant gratification, keypads have become cumbersome. Whirlpool isn’t the only appliance maker interested in Alexa-powered cooking capabilities. The blog post also stated that GE Appliances, Kenmore, LG and Samsung are starting to work with the cooking capabilities in the Smart Home Skill API, too.
Amazon also announced that its Alexa Fund has invested in June Life, seller of the "smart" June Oven, which already has an Alexa skill associated with it, and is likely to work with the Smart Home Skill API. "[The Alexa skill] makes it incredibly convenient for [users] to do things like preheat the oven while they’re mixing ingredients, set and check timers, and stop cooking without taking off their oven mitts," Matt Van Horn, co-founder and CEO of June Life, said in the Amazon post.
These new capabilities are another part of Amazon’s ongoing effort, via Alexa, to take over many aspects of our daily lives. Taking control of our microwaves would come as a surprise if Amazon already hadn’t already moved into our kitchens through LG’s Alexa-enabled refrigerator or through partnerships with appliance makers around its Dash replenishment program. Now it’s only a matter of time before these capabilities get worked into new skills governing control of all kinds of ovens, not to mention just about any other appliance. Why should you have walk around your kitchen — or your laundry room, or your entire home — pushing buttons when you could talk to inanimate objects instead?