Alexa will soon take up a pointless residence in your microwave
Not content with having holiday homes in your speakers and your phone, Amazon’s virtual butler Alexa will soon take up a dangerous-sounding residence within your microwave.
Or more accurately, it could do. Today, Amazon has announced an update to is Home Skill API which allows appliance manufacturers to add Alexa support to cloud-connected microwave ovens. If you have to ask, then no, your microwave is not cloud-connected.
As well as saving your fingers the wear and tear of physically tapping in numbers like a chump, the idea is that Amazon will save you having to dig out the microwave instructions or do quick calculations for times. To that end, not only will you be able to ask Alexa to go on full power for two minutes, you’ll even be able to say something like “Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken.” And your microwave will ping into action, assuming some enterprising band doesn’t release an album called “Defrost three pounds of chicken” in the next few months, in which case, presumably your dinner would remain frozen, albeit with musical accompaniment.
According to a post on the Amazon Alexa blog, Whirlpool is the first firm to take advantage of this brave new world, but Samsung, LG, Kenmore and GE will be following suit with smart microwaves in the future.
Amazon says this is a break from the “traditional and often confusing microwave experience,” which I guess is true, but then if you’re the kind of person to be nonplused by a microwave, Alexa might leave you feeling downright bamboozled. Plus, judging from the number of times the smart assistant has misunderstood my words over the last year, I’m not entirely sold on promoting it to the job of judging when meat is cooked enough not to give me salmonella.
But even if it worked flawlessly, this feels like trying to add a layer of convenience to something that’s already about as streamlined as humankind can muster. The Amazon Echo works nicely because it saves you getting up and typing out a long string of words into your phone or laptop – album names, the weather near you, or whatever it may be. For a microwave, you still have to stand up and load the food in anyway. Is it really that much more effort to tap some numbers in?
My guess is this is a feature that you may use once before outsourcing the process to your fingers, and letting Alexa put its virtual feet up. Unless they integrate the “Alexa, tell me a joke” functionality – in which case, I’m all in. Who doesn’t want a wise-cracking microwave?