Alexa – The Next Step Towards Artificial Intelligence?

Amazon’s Alexa is based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the latest buzzword in the tech world.


The Next Step Towards Artificial Intelligence

Alexa is a virtual voice assistant developed by Amazon. It is capable of voice interaction with human beings apart from doing several other tasks such as making to-do lists, playing music, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, providing reports on sports, weather and news.

It can also control smart home devices through an in-built home automation system. In addition to this, Alexa’s skills can be augmented by installing additional third-party functionalities as it is on an open platform.

Amazon’s Alexa is based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the latest buzzword in the tech world. Amazon is trying to make Alexa faster by adding in dedicated AI chips which will process the voice command faster for interpretation by becoming less dependent on Amazon’s remote servers.

By investing in Alexa’s skills continually, the company is planning to make Alexa the ‘brain’ of any home. Which means that it would soon be able to do complex activities like control security locks, security cameras and many kitchen appliances. And this could happen sooner than we imagine.

The Future? Here. Now!

Currently, Alexa comes inbuilt with another Amazon product, Echo – a speaker with some microphones on it. Post its launch, people have shown a very positive response to Echo, not its body but the brain of the Echo, which is Alexa. Alexa can read recipes and stream music while you work in the kitchen. She can make your grocery list. She can shop for you online. She can talk to you as you move around the house unlike other personal assistants like Siri who are somewhere deep inside your smartphone and do not listen very well or interact with you as effortlessly. 

Alexa’s artificial intelligence is already growing by leaps and bounds. As Amazon has opened the platform, any home device maker can also create functionalities or ‘skills’ for Alexa through single-purpose apps. Amazon has recently launched an API that allows developers to instruct Alexa on how to control their products.

This means that a smart television manufacturer can teach Alexa to switch off the TV at the command, “Alexa, switch off the TV”. This API can similarly let Alexa control lighting and temperature in the house. These are just examples. The possibilities are endless. Amazon has already partnered with many appliance makers in beta testing Alexa in order to make it more intelligent across a range of devices and a variety of skills. 

Artificial Intelligence, Not So Artificial Anymore!

By allowing to offer the Alexa voice platform for use by other developers, Amazon has already taken a step forward in increasing the utility and skill set of Alexa. It also signals to everyone that, as Alexa grows older, it is also getting smarter, more intuitive and skilled because more and more developers and their datasets are working on its platform. 

Alexa has an upper hand over any other chatbot because the user can control it through a voice command – a more natural method than a text command or the tapping of a button on a screen. Another ability of Alexa that is better than any personal assistant, is its ability to hear clearly and understand the context of the conversation. Amazon is basically teaching Alexa to understand the intent of any conversation – a big jump into the realm of artificial intelligence. 

Making Alexa smarter is a task that requires both machine learning and audio engineering. This is what makes the 6 microphones on top of Alexa intuitive enough to know which microphone is closest to the person speaking to it and have the rest of them to step back for the closest one to hear the person properly. 

The brave new world has already started dabbling with Artificial Intelligence. However, it is yet to manifest itself in a regular, dependable format in our lives. Alexa seems all set to change that. If it keeps inventing itself at this pace, it will surely become a part of every home’s background. Backed with artificial intelligence, Alexa is a power that is yet to be unleashed.

About the Author: This article is contributed by Amit Dua – Co-Founder & CEO at Signity Solutions and ValueAppz.

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