Here Comes Dash Wand, An Alexa-Powered Barcode Scanner For Your Kitchen

What Happened
Amazon continues with its master plan of conquering every room of the smart home with the launch of yet another Alexa-powered connected device. The Dash Wand, which the ecommerce giant unveiled on Wednesday night, is a cordless barcode scanner with Alexa integration. Designed specifically for kitchen use with its water-resistant, durable design, it focuses on facilitating grocery shopping from AmazonFresh. Prime members can either push a button and tell Alexa what to add to their shopping cart, like they would with an Amazon Tap. or simply use it to scan a barcode of the item they’d like to repurchase.

Thanks to the full Alexa integration, the Dash Wand also doubles as a smart kitchen aid, capable of finding recipes, converting units of measurement, or even finding nearby restaurants when your own culinary attempt fails. Notably, Amazon is essentially giving out this $20 device for free, as Prime customers will get 20 off their next purchase after registering the device.

What Brands Need To Do
Amazon created a smart home product with an incredibly focused user case – helping people cook. With a water-resistant, durable design, it is designed to be used in the kitchen. From finding recipes to getting the ingredients to setting timers for the oven, Alexa can do it all, making it a super valuable addition to a modern kitchen.

For Amazon, this device serves as a gateway to attract more shoppers to use AmazonFresh, which underscores Amazon’s aggressive push into the grocery market. According to a recent report from Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen, about a quarter of American households currently buy some groceries online, and more than 70% will engage with online food shopping within 10 years. In fact, online grocery sales are expected to hold 20% of the market by 2025. No wonder Amazon is willing to give away Dash Wand for free in exchange of further locking Prime members into its ever-expanding ecosystem.

As Amazon continues to push into the grocery market, it is becoming increasingly crucial for grocery and household CPG brands to make their products available and discoverable through Amazon. For food retail chains, this should come as a wake-up call to invest in ecommerce channels of your own or forge alliances with Amazon rivals that can surface your online services via their competing smart home devices so as to reach grocery shoppers right in their kitchens.

 


Source: Amazon

Header image courtesy of Amazon’s promotional image

Amazon Allows Brands To Surface Video Content Via Alexa

What Happened
On Thursday, Amazon introduced a Video Skill API to its Alexa Skills Kit to allow developers to create Alexa skills that are integrated directly with Alexa’s video capabilities. This means that Alexa users can easily find and consume video content without invoking a specific skill. Through this new API, Alexa is aware of the video devices and services your customer has or subscribes to. While most Alexa-enabled devices are screenless speakers, Alexa does support devices like the Fire TV lineup and new Echo Show that are capable of displaying videos.

What Brands Need To Do
Brands can make good use of this new API to better integrate their video content with Alexa, making it easier for your existing customers to engage with your video content in their home. For brands with an established roster of video content, this is a great way to boost content discovery for existing fans. Entertainment brands in particular should integrate with this API when developing a voice experience for Alexa to make sure their content is easily accessible for users.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 

 


Source: Amazon Alexa Developer Blog

IKEA’s New Smart Lighting Will Support Alexa, Google Assistant, And Siri

What Happened
IKEA is embracing conversational interfaces as it announced on Tuesday that it is adding voice command support to its TRÅDFRI line of affordable connected lighting, which includes several different LED bulbs with prices starting at $11.99 in the US. Coming this summer, the updated line will be compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit (which uses Siri) for voice control. Besides, users will also be able to control the lights via the respective apps.

What Brands Need To Do
By integrating with the three most popular smart home systems, this new line will undoubtedly be versatile enough to appeal to a wide range of smart home shoppers. That, plus its competitive pricing, should help push more consumers to try out connect lighting and familiarize themselves with the voice-controlled smart home setup.

According to BI Intelligence estimates, connected-home device shipments hit 1.8 billion units shipped in 2019. Most of them will support some type of voice control, most likely through integration with digital assistants, as IKEA is doing here, as opposed to building their own voice command solutions. As the availability of smart home devices rapidly grows, they provide a valuable emerging platform for brands to connect with consumers at home via voice, and brands should take a proactive approach and start experimenting with voice experiences.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 

 


Source: The Verge

Dish Integrates With Amazon Alexa For Hands-Free TV Control

What Happened
On Monday Dish Network launched an Alexa skill that will allow users to watch TV hands-free. Once activated and paired up, Dish says pay TV customers using either its Hopper or Wally receivers will be able to search for programs, change channels, as well as pause, rewind and fast forward television just by asking Alexa. This marks the first time a live TV content provider have integrated Alexa for voice control. Previously, Alexa is available as the voice interface on Amazon’s own Fire TV streaming player and Fire TV Stick products.

What Brands Need To Do
There is no denying that voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are taking over smart home devices and conquering the smart TV is merely a part of that. Last week, Google announced it is working with GE and LG to integrate Google Assistant into a slew of connected home appliances for voice control. Alexa, on the other hand, has enjoyed an early lead in conquering the smart home space with various third-party integrations. Now adding Dish Network to its roster of supported device, Alexa is able to infiltrate the OTT TV experience as well, further broadening its reach. For brands, now is the time to start formulating a voice strategy and start thinking about how they can leverage Alexa skills to enhance their services and customer experience.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Engadget

Header image courtesy of Dish Network

Amazon Debuts 4K TV With Fire TV OS And Alexa

What Happened
On Tuesday, Amazon announced a new lineup of 4K smart TVs that run on the updated Fire TV software. Integrated with Alexa support, users can evoke Amazon’s virtual assistant to conduct voice search for content or access Alexa skills via the remote control. As is the case with Amazon’s Fire TV streaming devices, Alexa will show you many results visually instead of just speaking them back. Working with two TV manufacturers, this new Amazon Fire TV lineup will be sold under either the Element or Westinghouse brand depending on the regional market, with prices ranging from $449 for the 43-inch model to $899 for the 65-inch.

What Brands Need To Do
This announcement continues Amazon’s hot streak of integrating Alexa in smart home devices. In the past month alone, the ecommerce giant introduced two new Echo devices – the Echo Look and the Echo Show – to push deeper into the conversational home gadget space. The Alexa-powered smart TVs are but another way for Amazon to make Alexa omnipresent in a connected household. As conversational devices continue to conquer the smart home space, brands that wish to stay ahead of the curve need to start leveraging the developer tools available to create voice experiences for the likes of Alexa in order to reach customers at home.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Fortune

Alexa Will Soon Support Notifications To Grab Your Attention

What Happened
Amazon announced in a blog post on Tuesday that notification feature will soon come to Alexa,  allowing the voice assistant to alert customers with information that’s important to them. Soon, Alexa users will be able to enable notifications for select skills and shopping updates from Amazon on most Alexa-powered devices. Once activated, users will be alerted when there’s new information to retrieve by a chime and a pulsing green light on their Echo devices.

The notifications will be manageable individually via the Amazon Alexa App. Skills made by AccuWeather, The Washington Post, Just Eat, and Life360 are among the first to be using notifications. AVS is set to launch a developer preview in the coming weeks to ensure Alexa-enabled device makers can update their products to support notifications.

What Brands Need To Do
The addition of notifications opens up exciting new opportunities for Alexa developers to make their skills more proactive and capable of delivering updates and brand messages in a timely manner. For example, a travel booking company can create an Alexa skill that alerts users when the price of a tracked flight drops, and a healthcare brand can use notifications to remind customers of taking their meds. The arrival of notifications will significantly expand Alexa’s use cases, which brands looking to explore the conversational space should leverage to create more useful Alexa skills to provide added value to their customers.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Amazon Alexa Blog

AmEx Brings Voice Banking To Alexa With Branded Skill

What Happened
American Express is the latest financial service to dive into voice banking with the release of its first Alexa skill. AmEx cardholders can search and sign in with their American Express online account to activate the skill, which allows customers to check their balances, access discounts and offers, pay bills, or hear about recent transactions, all delivered via voice through Alexa. For an added layer of security, users are also asked to create a four-digit PIN code that they will need to repeat every time they access their account via the skill.

What Brands Need To Do
As Amazon and their developer community continue to build out Alexa’s capabilities, the Echo is becoming an increasingly business-friendly platform for brands to connect with consumers via a conversational interface. As Amazon continues to expand the Echo lineup and push for Alexa integrations into third-party devices, brands need to take a proactive approach and create an Alexa skill in order to connect with customers at home.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Fortune

VoiceLabs Launches “Sponsored Messages” Service To Deliver Ads Via Alexa Skills

Update June 15: VoiceLabs has suspended its Amazon Alexa skill ad network following Amazon’s change of ad policy for Alexa skills.

 

What Happened
On Friday, voice computing analytics firm VoiceLabs announced the launch of Sponsored Messages, an ad network that aims to allow Alexa developers monetize their skills with advertisements. Brands including ESPN, Wendy’s, and Progressive Insurance have signed on to use this service, which will allow them to inject short audio blurbs into skills made by developers using VoiceLabs’ analytics platform and having opted in this ad network to monetize their skills.

What Brands Need To Do
Two weeks ago, Amazon updated its developer policy for Alexa, banning ad messages in all skills except for the ones for flash briefings, streaming music, and streaming radio. About 3,000 skills currently in the Alexa Skills Store fit this description, according to VoiceLabs, although only a fraction of them is using VoiceLabs’ service. This launch marks an important step in monetizing Alexa skills and pioneering audio ads delivered via digital voice assistants. This creates a new opportunity for brands that want to reach Alexa users without committing to develop their own conversational skills, and brands that have already created their skills can use it to promote their branded voice experience.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: VentureBeat

 

Amazon Unveils Echo Show, An Alexa-Powered Smart Speaker With A Screen

What Happened
On Tuesday, Amazon officially unveiled the latest addition to its Echo smart speaker line – Echo Show. A first for the Echo products, Echo Show features a 7-inch touch screen, which enables it to do things other Alexa-powered speakers can not, such as making video calls, playing online videos, and displaying lyrics of the songs being streamed. Echo Show is priced at $229.99, with pre-orders open now and a ship date set for June 28.

Despite having a touch screen, Echo Show is still very much intended to be primarily controlled via voice command with Alexa. Instead of repurposing their Fire OS or Android apps, brands will need to make third-party skills to get on Echo Show, just as they would do for other, screen-less Echo devices. However, developers will be able to incorporate the skill cards that already exist in on the Alexa app or a Fire tablet, as well as sending a video to the device via the built-in video player. Moreover, the Smart Home API for Alexa is also being extended to allow for easier smart home integrations.

What Brands Need To Do
The new addition introduces a visual component to Alexa-powered conversational interface of the Echo lineup, which, in turn, opens the door for brands to create new kind of voice experiences that can be supported and enhanced by additional texts, images, or videos. For example, a beauty brand’s Alexa skill will be able to surface makeup tutorial videos for users to follow, while a healthcare brand may create an Alexa skill that offers seniors live consultations via video calls. The possibilities are endless, and with Amazon Echo now dominating over 70% of the U.S. smart speaker market, it is up to brands to come up with an Alexa skill that can allow them to connect with customers at home.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: The Verge & TechCrunch

Images courtesy of Amazon’s product page

Amazon Allows Alexa Developers To Edit Built-In To-Do & Shopping Lists

What Happened
On Wednesday, Amazon announced new permissions that allow developers to read, add, and delete items in Alexa’s built-in shopping and to-do lists from within third-party skill. This makes it easier for customers to keep track of their important tasks and shopping items through third-party skills. This feature is now available worldwide for developers building skills for the US English, UK English, and German language models.

What Brands Need To Do
This simple update allows brands to develop Alexa skills that can directly insert brand-related reminders or additional information into the two native lists in the Alexa app, which may help brands establish a lasting presence on Alexa and provide convenient access for users. CPG brands can, with permission from the users, integrate the shopping list into their Alexa skills to remind users of replenishment as needed, whereas a fitness brand can create a skill that sends daily workout challenges to user’s to-do list.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Amazon Developer – Alexa Blog