An assistant in the clouds

By | Science & Technology
The personal assistant Alexa debuted with the Amazon Echo. Credit@Amazon.com, Inc. and its affiliates

Seattle, USA, based Fortune 500 company Amazon.com Inc first launched its website in October 1998. With a considerable catalogue, ranging from Health and Beauty to Car and motorbike items, Amazon may have provided a convenient way to shop while offering a wide choice of products. Presently, Amazon has approximately 285 million active customer accounts worldwide and in recent years, Amazon may have found new ways to deliver services customer base. This may have been done through Amazon’s own range of products, the Amazon Fire TV range of Streaming media players to the premium services offered by Amazon Prime. However, Amazon’s most recent innovation comes in the form of a voice-activated personal assistant named Alexa. Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa is a voice-activated service, which was first introduced with the Amazon Echo counter top speaker. The Amazon Echo is voice recognition peripheral which allowed users to relay commands and queries to Alexa. Integrated into Amazon Echo, Alexa was able to answer questions, report news, provide sports scores, and more. Using the keyword “Alexa”, the voice recognition software may activate and users might follow up this with a command or query:

“Alexa, wake me up at 7 in the morning.”

“Alexa, what’s the weather in London?”

“Alexa, play Katy Perry.”

“Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?”

Alexa gradually learns and adapts to the users preferences over time. Credit@Amazon.com, Inc. and its affiliates

Alexa gradually learns and adapts to the users preferences over time. Credit@Amazon.com, Inc. and its affiliates

Using 7 built-in mics, which enabled the far-field hands-free voice control of the Amazon Echo, Alexa was given 360-degree omnidirectional audio, making it easier for the virtual assistant to hear and respond to voice commands. What may set Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa, apart from others in the field seems to be the service’s ability to connect to other devices and her ability to remember a user’s preferences. Amazon aims to make Alexa remember the user’s preference, allowing the artificial assistant to adapt to new information and automatically update through the cloud as new information is learned.

Alexa learns which music service the user prefers, whether it’s integrating with Spotify, TuneIn or Amazon Music. Alexa aims to extend beyond music and recall ideal temperature setting, ensuring the thermostat is set to an ideal level. British Gas’ wi-fi thermostat, Hive, aims to offer users this hands-free experience with Alexa integration in the home. The term Smart Home is one, which seems to be growing steadily as more appliances seem to ship with a mobile counterpart or built-in Bluetooth, enabling the integration of modern technology. There are Smart Lights, Smart Thermostats and even Smart Fridges, which are now incorporating the ability to integrate with Alexa. Technology company Phillips have launched the Phillips Hue, a range of smart lights which are Alexa compatible and aim to offer voice control to the lights in each room. This means lights may be turned on or off with a voice command, the thermostat may be adjusted hands-free, or the house’s security system armed with a single command.

Amazon Echo's far-field voice recognition technology means Alexa can recognise commands from any direction. Credit@Amazon.com, Inc. and its affiliates

Amazon Echo’s far-field voice recognition technology means Alexa can recognise commands from any direction. Credit@Amazon.com, Inc. and its affiliates

This level of integration seems to be the next stage of Alexa’s evolution as the assistant aims to provide Smart homes a level of convenience and hands-free control yet to be seen. From arming the security system to record a show, Alexa’s integration seems to have few restrictions as stoves, washing machines, headphones, smartwatches and even cars seek to implement Amazon’s voice recognition assistant. With new items like Martian’s mVoice Smartwatch using Amazon’s Alexa, users may remotely place a food order or query Alexa’s database. With Alexa representing the central hub all smart appliances and devices might be controlled from, Amazon aims to provide a personal assistance to control the latest in smart technology. Twenty seventeen may be the year Amazon’s voice service Alexa integrates with more devices, making this the latest personal assistant for those living a smart lifestyle.

How might Amazon offer its customers a personalised smartphone experience by integrating them with Alexa voice recognition technology?

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