With the increasing democratization of chatbots and the AI tech that powers them, more and more businesses are looking to automate operations and improve customer engagement using chatbots. 2017 was touted the year of the chatbot, and all evidence points to 2018 becoming the year of the voice bot.
This blog is dedicated to Alexa, Amazon’s sleek little cylinder which lights up when you call her by name.
Let us start with differentiating between Alexa & Echo. Echo is the hardware from Amazon, which is powered by the Voice Control Software – Alexa. Without Alexa, Echo is just another speaker. So, Alexa is what makes Echo the Smart one.
Alexa has certain built-in capabilities like set timers , alarms, read headlines , answer general questions, track weather etc. The ability of Alexa to do these things is called its “Skill”.
Alexa can also learn to do more things. Amazon has provided the “ASK – Alexa Skills Kit”, which enables developers to teach Alexa new skills. ASK is a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation and code samples. When you add a skill to Alexa, you are making that service available to millions of customers through Alexa enabled devices. There are thousands and thousands of Alexa Skills that are available in the market now. Not all are developed by Amazon.
What type of Skills can you add to Alexa ?
(Courtesy: Amazon Developer Blogs)
This means, users can search for a specific show without specifying a provider or device. Through this skill, Alexa is aware of the video devices and services the customer has subscribed to. For example, if I command Alexa to find play the 100th episode of GOT, then without lifting a finger, I will be able to start viewing the show in my TV.
One can combine these skills to come up with most innovating solutions. Here is couple of examples from Amazon Blog ((Meet the Women Shaping the Future of Voice with Alexa).
Alexa Voice Services
The other side of the story is that one can put Alexa on anything, with AVS – Alexa Voice Service, thereby providing a Voice Interface to the product. AVS is essentially a suite of resources to quickly and easily build Alexa enabled products. It includes the following
For accelerated AVS integration, Amazon has recently launched Single-On Chip (SoC) Solutions, with built in hardware and the required SDKs .These are complete end to end systems for building AVS products. They include the chipsets, Voice Processing technologies and client software that leverages the AVS APIs. These are qualified development kits from Qualcomm, Amlogic & AllWinner.
It is evident that Alexa is getting smarter and smarter with added skills and natural language understanding and accuracy. And with the launch of AVS, you can put Alexa virtually on anything. Opportunities with Innovative Voice Design has increased in manifolds which is going to make our lives easier and exciting.