Amazon Alexa: Computers and the Internet are said to be “Invention of the Century” but Technology is growing with every passing day with an unexceptional pace, and there are several inventions that are no way behind. And Internet was the sensation that gave birth to several other technologies that are just mind-blowing.
And E-Commerce giant Amazon is taking the internet a step ahead and in such a way, it comes out with ‘Alexa.’ Amazon Alexa is a smart personal assistant that makes use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. It is designed to be always on and woken with a voice command. Alexa can perform web searches, create calendar events, modify lists and notes, order products, play music, and perform dozens of other tasks.
When you speak to Alexa it uses natural language learning and speech recognition to transmit your request to Amazon’s servers, which is where the real work is done. Machine learning software processes the spoken request and sends a response back to Alexa, all in a matter of seconds.
An Amazon Echo unit, or any other supported device, comes with basic features out of the box. Amazon’s Alexa skills store offers hundreds of additional capabilities, allowing it to play games, request an Uber, add items to your grocery list, get recipes, find out if something is recyclable, or even get random cat facts.
To whom Amazon Alexa may help or to whom it may affect?
Alexa affects two groups of people: Consumers and competitors. How it affects these two groups, however, is very different. Amazon designed Alexa to be a digital assistant, an IoT hub, an entertainment device, and a web searcher. All of those possibilities in one audio-only device completely changes how the average person interacts with technology.
Consumers with sophisticated smart home setups can use Alexa to turn on lights, adjust the temperature, do laundry, turn on the oven—there are simply too many possible integrations to mention here. The sheer number of Alexa integrations also puts competitors in the hot seat: Google, Apple, and Microsoft haven’t captured nearly as much of the digital assistant marketplace as Alexa has, most of which it has done in the past year.
The only other digital assistant to function as a standalone unit is Google Home, but Google has yet to completely open the door to third parties. Actions on Google, the development platform for Google Home, is open to developers, but there isn’t currently a date for opening an app store so users can download third-party Actions.
Apple and Microsoft are completely out of the IoT hub game right now, and if they plan on leveraging Siri and Cortana as competitors to Alexa they need to step up: Time is running out and Alexa is soon going to become synonymous with IoT digital assistants.
When is Amazon Alexa happening?
- Alexa first launched on the Amazon Echo in November 2014. The Echo, and Alexa with it, was initially only available to invited Amazon Prime members. General release for the Echo and Alexa was June of 2015.
- CES 2017 brought a whole host of new Alexa integrations and third-party products, with many analysts saying Amazon was the dominant force at the show. Alexa may have launched in 2014, but 2017 is the year it’s likely to be a runaway hit.
How should you start using Amazon Alexa?
- Amazon Alexa is available on the Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap, which are all Amazon products. Several third-party units were announced at CES 2017, meaning you won’t necessarily need to buy an Amazon-branded unit in the future.
- Don’t get confused by the presence of Alexa apps in Google Play or the Apple App Store: Those are just hubs for controlling Echo units.
- If you want to see what Alexa is like without buying a speaker you can head over to Amazon’s Echosim.io site. Logging in with your Amazon account takes you to a page where you can try voice commands out without needing to spend $50.
- The best way to use Alexa is to buy an Echo or one of the third-party products that function the same way.