Alexa will soon be able to orchestrate your home’s smart lights with more finesse, Amazon announced this morning. Starting today, customers in the U.S. who’ve connected their lights with Alexa can set wake-up lights or sleep timers and create new Routines that dim or brighten their lights over a set duration.
The wake-up lightning functionality mimics a sunrise by gradually increasing the brightness of a single connected dimmable light or a group of lights. Saying a command like “Alexa, set an alarm for 7 a.m. with my bedside lamp” or “Alexa, wake me up at 6 a.m. with lights” kicks things off ahead of your alarm. (Note that the latter only works if the lights in question are grouped with an Echo device.) Both single alarm and recurring alarms are supported, the latter with requests like “Alexa, set up an alarm for every morning at 7 a.m. with my bedside lamp.”
As for the sleep lighting timer feature, it’s now possible to set an Alexa timer with smart lights that gradually dim before turning off with a command like “Alexa, set a 30-minute sleep timer with bedside lamp” or “Alexa, set a 30-minute sleep timer with lights.” Helpfully, Alexa will automatically turn off playing audio when it hears it.
Lastly, the new addition to Routines enables customers to create custom morning or night actions that brighten or dim lights to a desired brightness over a duration of time between 5 and 59 minutes. For example, the lights can be scheduled to brighten independent of Alexa alarms, or programmed to gradually dim and switch off with a voice-triggered routine like “Alexa, good night.”
The trio of lighting features follows on the heels of a more proactive and predictive smart device setup experience, which rolled out in December. Now, if Alexa customers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., and India ask the assistant something like “Alexa, turn on the Sofa Lights,” but the lights they’re trying to turn on are actually named “Living Room Lights,” Alexa might helpfully suggest “Did you mean Living Room Lights?” Coinciding with the rollout, Alexa improved in its ability to resolve customer-assigned smart home device names without being strict about their exact pronunciation, even in multilingual cases.
In somewhat related news, Amazon just this week expanded the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit, which enables developers to create Bluetooth devices meant to “enhance” voice interactions with compatible Echo devices (like connected lightbulbs synced to a soundtrack).