Ever heard of Alexa Gadgets? They’re Bluetooth devices meant to “enhance” voice interactions with compatible Amazon Echo devices, like connected lightbulbs synced to a killer soundtrack. Amazon made available a software development kit in September 2017 and launched the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit in beta in September 2018, but today marks the rollout of the Gadgets Toolkit in all locales where Alexa-enabled devices are sold. New regions include Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Spain, in addition to the U.K., Germany, and the U.S.
“Around the world, customers interact with Alexa billions of times each week … With the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit, [developers] can build companion devices that either enhance Alexa’s capabilities, or create a new interactive experience between the product, Alexa, and the customer,” wrote Amazon senior product manager Lisa Mohanty in a blog post. “Whether [they] choose to create a smart toy, smart clock, or novelty accessory, the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit enables [them] to bring delight, entertainment, and utility to [their] customers.”
The Gadgets Toolkit offers self-service APIs and interfaces that expose metadata of Alexa’s capabilities to compatible Echo devices, essentially creating a private channel between companion devices and associated Alexa skills. The complementary Defined Interfaces component enables the creation of devices that respond to native Alexa capabilities, such as setting timers, receiving notifications, syncing physical movement to Alexa’s text-to-speech, playing music, and more.
Gadgets Toolkit launch partners included 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. A Raspberry Pi and Python-based solution with sample apps and step-by-step guides is available, as well as a list of compatible off-the-shelf components and documentation to facilitate pairing, connectivity, and over-the-air updates between products and paired Echo devices.