Last week, $6 billion software company Atlassian announced that it's bringing its popular HipChat app to the Amazon Echo family of smart speakers — making HipChat the first chat program available on Echo, and possibly marking a milestone in moving virtual assistants from the living room to the boardroom.
Most Amazon Echo services (Amazon calls them "skills") are passive, meaning you need to call on Alexa, the device’s personal digital assistant, before it will do anything. But HipChat on Echo is designed to be active, calling out when certain pre-set conditions are met.
HipChat General Manager, Steve Goldsmith, says that Atlassian teams have been testing Echo internally as an alert system when things go wrong: If an Atlassian site or service goes down, the system automatically sends a message into HipChat, which then triggers the Echo to activate and shout an alert at the team.
Instead of sending alerts to personal smartphones or tablets, Goldsmith says, the Echo is a "neutral piece of hardware." Put one in the corner of the room, and it's a team's communal voice box. In the same way that a family might share an Echo, so too does a software team, Goldsmith says.
Amazon says the Echo will become a key pillar of its business in the future, with thousands of developers tasked to building and improving it. The existence of the forthcoming Google Home device, a direct Echo competitor, is certainly a sign that Amazon is on the right track.
While, right now, so much of the Echo's use is fun and games, the device's continued popularity, and the overall industry shift towards voice, means that HipChat on Echo could be a sign of things to come.