Smart home with Alice. Yandex opens the platform for all developers
We believe that in the future, people will control their home with voice, not buttons. Therefore, today Yandex presents a smart home platform that will allow you to turn on the light, reduce the temperature on the air conditioner, switch the TV to another channel or even make coffee - with the help of Alice.
The platform is open: both large manufacturers of smart devices and developers who automate their homes can connect to it. Today we will not retell the documentation, but we will tell Habr’s readers about the architecture of our platform and tell devices that already support it.
People have always sought to simplify life. In 1950, an American engineer Emil Matthias mounted more than two kilometers of wires and numerous electric motors in the walls of his house to control windows, doors, a radio and other equipment with the help of buttons. Only after 25 years, Pico Electronics will propose not to break the walls, but to use the existing electrical network in the house not only to power the devices, but also to transmit control commands. Over time, alternatives appeared, but humanity has relied on wires and switches mounted on the walls for decades.
Wireless internet and smartphones have changed everything. It is not necessary to plan the number and location of all devices during the repair phase if they work over Wi-Fi. The stationary remote control can be replaced with a mobile phone or tablet. And the very idea of a smart home went beyond the scope of an apartment: now you can turn off an iron that was forgotten at home from a taxi. And everything would be fine, but there are two nuances.
Fragmentation and Management
Different smart devices are rarely compatible with each other. If you have bulbs of different manufacturers in your apartment, it will be problematic to turn off the whole world with one command. If the coffee maker and speaker are not compatible, then making coffee and listening to the weather forecast at the same time will not be easy either. Such difficulties limit the choice of smart devices or even scare inexperienced users away from the very idea of a smart home.
Another problem is that most smart devices need to be controlled using a mobile application. But this is far from always convenient. For initial or fine tuning - yes, but try to perform routine operations, for example, adjust the brightness of the light or the volume of the TV. To do this, you need to find the phone, unlock it, launch the application, play with the options, teach all this to your children and relatives. Difficult.
Science fiction has long solved this problem for us. In films, no one controls a spaceship or an android using a telephone - they just understand our language and know how to answer. A single interface that is understandable to any person.
About five years we went to our own voice assistant - Alice. Now she lives in our applications. On the road, you can access it using the Navigator, at home - through Yandex.Station and other smart speakers based on Yandex IO . She also has a lively and pleasant voice.
When we took up the idea of a smart home, we set ourselves the task of solving both problems. To give an opportunity to any person, regardless of age and technical knowledge, simply say: "Alice, turn off the light in the kitchen." And do not think about the compatibility of different lamps with each other. We believe that our new platform solves this problem.
Yandex smart home
We had two options. The first is to agree on the compatibility of another's iron and our cloud. But then you would have to make changes to each device. Too laborious and slow. And yet this would not allow connecting devices already available to users to the platform, forcing them to purchase new ones.
Another option is an open platform with cloud-2-cloud architecture. It’s enough for manufacturers to teach their cloud how to work with the Yandex cloud using the intermediate Adapter API. It is simpler, faster, and allows you to support devices that were previously sold. We have chosen this option.
It is important to say that we are not replacing the central hub of the manufacturer, we are not trying to replace homebridge and are not restricting the development of alternative interfaces.
Let’s explain with an example. A Station user says, “Alice, turn on the kettle.” The Yandex cloud converts this phrase into a request and sends it through the Adapter API to the manufacturer’s cloud. From there, the signal goes to the teapot, which does not need to be able to work with different clouds.
For all this to work, Alice must know what devices are and how to work with them. To do this, the device developer must publish a special smart home skill through the Dialogs platform. This skill describes supported devices in platform format, and also contains the address where the Adapter API is available.
You can manage a smart home using different applications and devices with Alice, but you need the Yandex application to configure it. In it you will find a list of manufacturers who already support our platform.
After starting activation, the user will be able to control the supported devices by voice: turn on / off, select a color or mode of operation, adjust range settings. We also retained the ability to manage them manually - using the buttons in the application.
Smart home is not limited to simple commands. The platform allows you to manage multiple devices at once. For example, you can set up a script for waking up - and then in response to the greeting “Alice, good morning” she will put peppy music at the Station, turn off the nightlight and turn on the kettle. For your scripts, you can come up with any phrase and a set of actions.
For ease of management, users can create groups and rooms. For example, you can combine several bulbs in a group of "chandelier". And if there are several of them, then with the phrase “Alice, turn off the chandelier in the kitchen”, you can pay off only the one in the kitchen.
Moreover, with the help of Alice, you can control a smart home from anywhere. Let's say you like it to be cool in your apartment. Just command on the way home from work: "Alice, turn on the air conditioning."
Yandex smart home already works with dozens of devices Philips, Redmond, Rubetek, Samsung and Xiaomi. The list of supported devices from these manufacturers is regularly updated. Next in line are Bosch, Elari, Perenio IoT, SAPFIR and Z-Wave.
In addition to connecting partner devices, Yandex also released its own - a smart light bulb , a socket and a remote control . The light bulb changes the brightness and color of the lighting, with the help of the outlet you can remotely turn on and off the devices connected to it, and the remote control controls equipment with an infrared port - for example, air conditioners and TVs.
We believe that the future is with voice interfaces, and today we are taking a big step towards it. Now every user and developer of smart devices has the opportunity to influence the development of our platform. Any feedback and suggestions are welcome.
If you are developing your smart devices and would like to manage them using Alice, then we invite you to the documentation . Thanks!