I've suspected all along that this was the direction for the Echo, and now they've made it official: Today Amazon emailed Echo customers and let them know that they can now can control smart home devices with the connected speaker.
The first wave of integration is with the Belkin WeMo and Philips Hue lights, with more to come.
According to Techcrunch, authenticating devices and commands can be done via voice: 'they’ll have to instruct Echo’s assistant “Alexa” to find the appliances using a simple command: “Alexa, discovery my appliances.” Afterwards, however, they’ll be able to interact with those devices using natural language instructions, like “Alexa, turn on the hallway light” or “Alexa, turn on the coffee maker,” for example. You can also ask Alexa to dim lights by a certain amount, like “20%,” for example.'
The most interesting part could be combining this smart home device command and control with the third party apps that are no doubt coming through the Echo SDK announced about a month ago.
All in all pretty cool. Not a lot of people know this, but the same team that ran Amazon Fire TV also ran Amazon Echo (there was also a mystery third product that was abandoned according to my sources). It will be interesting to see if this same type of smart home integration comes to the FireTV over time.
Bottom line, this combined with the news of the Dash Button and Amazon Home services over the past week show Amazon is beginning to get serious about the smart home.