CEDIA 2016: What the Heck is Amazon Alexa Doing in the Professional Install Channel?

Amazon Alexa exec Charlie Kindel is keynoting and the company has a booth at CEDIA 2016. What does this mass-market voice-recognition success story want with the professional installation channel?


Amazon Alexa, the voice-recognition platform that powers Echo, is the quientessential DIY success story. So why is the company at CEDIA 2016 promoting its voice-recognition platform to a bunch of professional home-technology installers?

Not only does Amazon have a booth at the show, but Alexa smart home director Charlie Kindel is delivering a keynote presentation (details below).

“Clearly, there is a lot of usage in the DIY space,” Kindel tells CE Pro. “But the big opportunity is where there is more of a total home solution, where customers would rather a pro come in to help with some of the more mundane configurations.”

Naturally, home-technology integrators (the “CEDIA channel”) are the ones interfacing with these end-users when it comes to the smart home, so they are the ones that see everyday how consumers use their systems, what frustrates them, how products work in the field with other smart devices ….

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All of this in-field learning is valuable to Amazon as it designs its next-gen voice user interfaces, or VUI. Amazon desperately wants integrators to be part of that development process as it shapes future products. And it wants integrators and manufacturers alike to begin to incorporate VUI design into their mindset and product specifications.

We as an industry, Kindel suggests, should really start to understand: “What are the rooms in house? What are they named? And how do customers refer to those rooms?”

In the past, it didn't really matter what people called things, because they had displays that showed graphical representations of rooms, devices and scenes. What if those graphical representations went away?

“In thinking about the whole home, how do you name devices in such a way that you have a natural interface for VUI?” Kindel says. 

It's an ongoing question, and one of the reasons Amazon is engaging with CEDIA, as Kindel says, “to reach out to that segment of the industry, to help fulfill that vision together.”

Kindel's keynote, “Creating Voice-First Experiences for the Smart Home” takes place Friday, Sept. 16 at 8:00 a.m. in the Forks Ballroom of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. 

In addition, Amazon representatives will also present two CEDIA training coursesThe Business of Voice Control (ESB00681) taught by Ashwin Karuhatty, Smart Home Business Development, and Designing with Voice (ESD0047) taught by Dan Quigley, Senior Manager, Smart Home.

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson


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