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Ever heard of Alexa Gadgets? They’re Bluetooth devices that “enhance” voice interactions with compatible Amazon Echo devices (think connected lightbulbs synced to a killer soundtrack). Amazon made available a software development kit (SDK) in September 2017, alongside the launch of new smart speakers, the Echo Connect, Buttons, and more. But today, it formally launched the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit in beta.
The Gadgets Toolkit, which is available starting today in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, comprises self-service APIs and “gadget interfaces” that enable developers to tap into wake word detection, speech, notifications, timers, alarms, reminders, over-the-air updates, and other Echo services and software features. (Support for Amazon Music and kids skills are on the way, Amazon said.) Also in tow is helpful sample code and technical documentation.
“Alexa Gadgets extend Alexa’s capabilities to new modalities with motors, lights, sound chips, and more,” Amazon wrote in a blog post. “With the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit, you can build on what customers already love about Alexa, whether it’s responding with requested information from across the room, setting reminders, or playing music.”
Gadgets Toolkit launch partners include Hasbro, WowWee Group Limited, Gemmy Industries, Baby Plus, Tomy International, Novalia, and eKids, who’ve used it to make toys like dancing plush animatronics, smart toothbrushes, a touch-sensitive table mat, and an updated Big Mouth Billy Bass.
The first devices built with the Gadgets Toolkit will go on sale later this year.
Also announced today: general availability of the Alexa Skills Kit for Python, an SDK that lets developers make Alexa API calls and quickly access support libraries in Python (as opposed to Java or Node.js). Key features include automatic request handling, attribute management, and Alexa API calls.
Both products follow hot on the heels of a CNBC report suggesting Amazon will debut up to eight new Alexa-powered devices this week, including a microwave and an “in-car gadget.”
Update at 12:32 p.m. Pacific: Added reference to Amazon’s announcement that the Alexa Skills Kit for Python is now broadly available.
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