Amazon launched a whole suite of new skills for its virtual assistant Alexa today, and it pretty soon, you’ll be controlling everything in your house with nothing but voice commands.
Alexa could already adjust your thermostat, turn on your lights, or charge your Tesla car through the Echo speaker platform, which listens to vocal commands and relays them to a smart-home network. Today, the company taught Alexa “Geneva,” a new skill that lets the A.I. speak to wifi-enabled General Electric appliances.
Alexa isn’t quite at C-3PO’s level yet, but it can translate your voice commands to your oven, fridge, and even water heater — a simple “Alexa, tell Geneva to preheat the oven to 350º” is all it takes to be on your way to baking cookies. You can tell your refrigerator make hot water for coffee or tea without getting out of bed. You can have your dryer keep your laundry tumbling and set your water heater to vacation mode, all with your voice.
For those times when you just want to know if your clothes are clean, Alexa can also give you status updates. You can ask if your dishwasher needs more rinse aid, if your clothes are done in the washer, or whether your ice maker is full. Status updates are the only commands associated with GE’s dishwasher and washer at the moment, but more control is available for the other appliances in the line. Here’s a full list of commands, in case you were wondering (and have a home full of GE appliances).
While turning on your oven from another room is pretty low risk, Geneva won’t let you start boiling a pot of water or broiling a steak with voice commands. But for things that require a little less attention, or just a quick status update, Geneva could be a handy Alexa skill for home cooks who want a hands-free kitchen.
You can even install the Echo unit on a ceiling fan (although we cannot officially recommend this).