The week in smart home: Amazon is killing Alexa skills... sort of

A round-up from the past seven days in connected tech

Amazon is killing Alexa skills... sort of
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The big news in the tech world this week all came from Apple HQ in Cupertino, where the new iPhones and the new Apple Watch went live. The smart home also received an Apple flavoured boost too - albeit a small one; a bunch of new HomePod features are set to go live in the coming days.

Away from the big Apple event the newest Dyson robo vac broke cover, IFTTT integration for Sonos went live and a new Samsung SmartThings Tracker was revealed - one that helps you find your keys and control your smart home.

Those were the big headlines from a busy week - but read on for the other smart home stories you may have missed.

The week in smart home: Amazon is killing Alexa skills... sort of

Amazon's plans to kill skills

Rohit Prasad, Alexa's vice president and head scientist has told Tom's Guide that skills for the smart speaker could be a thing of the past soon.

"We don't want Alexa to be like your smartphone, where you have fifty apps on your home screen," Prassad said. "The way we're solving that is that you'll just speak, and we will find the most relevant skill that can answer your query."

The example given is a user asking Alexa to order a car - without specifying whether that's Uber, Lyft or another service - and the digital assistant knowing where to direct the query based on user habits rather than relying on a pre-installed skill. However, Prasad admitted it's easier in theory than in practice.

"If you say, 'Alexa, get me a car,' you don't want to buy a car on Amazon, you need a car to get to the airport," he said. "The ambiguity in that language, and the incredible number of actions Alexa can take, that's a super hard AI problem."

The week in smart home: Amazon is killing Alexa skills... sort of

TP-Link's latest Kasa kit

The hugely named TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip has been revealed - giving users not one but six smart plug sockets to tap into, as well as a trio of (dumb) USB ports as well.

Like the single TP-Link smart plugs we've tested - there's energy monitoring on board, from within the Kasa app - and Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and even Microsoft Cortana are along for the ride too.

It's $79.99 and you can get it from Amazon now.

The week in smart home: Amazon is killing Alexa skills... sort of

A breth of fresh air

Smart air purifiers are big business now but, let's face it, they are clunky mo-fos that don't exactly score highly on the style stakes.

That's where breth comes in. Claiming to eliminate harmful indoor pollutants by targeting VOCs from man-made materials, the design is half tech / half pot plant.

“Modern building design has created excellent energy efficiency, but has left inhabitants in chemical-laden and unhealthy stagnant environments due to the increased airtight residential and office structures,” explained Mark Prescott, co-founder of breth. “The average American spends 90% of their time indoors, breathing these toxins. breth is a miniature ecosystem that greatly improves a plant’s ability to remove indoor air pollution. This is the most natural purification mechanism that biology provides us to clean indoor environments.”

It's just hit Kickstarter for $99.

TAGGED    smart home

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