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Alexa Adds Flexibility for Multi-Voice Assistant Devices

Amazon is making Alexa better at sharing devices with other voice assistants. The tech giant unveiled new Universal Device Commands (UDCs) and partnerships at Alexa Live on Wednesday that will make it easier for device makers and their users to interact with Alexa and other voice assistants embedded in one device.

Universal Alexa

Amazon introduced the new Universal Device Commands (UDCs) and related Agent Transfers (ATs) features as a way for customers to give basic orders like ‘stop’ or ‘lower volume’ to a device with multiple voice assistants using a different wake word than the one used to start the activity. For instance, a Sonos speaker owner could say, “Hey Sonos, play music,” but decide to turn it off with the command, “Alexa, stop music.” Despite the change in wake word, the speaker will carry out the command to stop. The Agent Transfers feature in the same scenario might involve asking Alexa to perform a task only the Sonos voice AI can perform. Alexa would recognize its limitation and automatically engage the Sonos AI to complete the task, rather than apologizing and reporting failure to the user. It’s similar to how Alexa custom assistants work when embedded in non-Amazon devices.

Skullcandy’s Native Voice

Amazon’s other multiple voice assistant news at Alexa Live will engage wireless earbud maker Skullcandy and voice services provider Native Voice to add both Alexa and “Hey Skullcandy” work with Skullcandy hearables, specifically the Push Active and Grind Series headphones. Wearers can pick one or the other wake word and voice assistant as is best appropriate. For instance, Skullcandy’s voice assistant is useful for controlling the audio media, answering calls, and related activities, while Alexa offers essentially the same functions as an Echo smart speaker, only more flexible.


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