Amazon’s Alexa, a voice-activated natural language processing system, has made great inroads into the home digital assistant market, proving once and for all that using natural language to command technology is no longer science fiction.
Currently, Alexa is primarily available integrated into Amazon’s series of smart speakers, marketed as the Echo, the Dot, and the Tap. Three plug and play devices that connect to the cloud powered Alexa app via WiFi.
It is those devices that have ushered in a new era of virtual intelligent assistants that have become fonts of information and voice-activated tools to control home automation products, such as thermostats, lighting, and other smart home devices.
Beyond home automation, many believe the true potential of Alexa remains untapped, a potential that can transform business operations by bringing NLP (Natural Language Processing) into the boardroom, office or factory floor, and beyond. “We have barely scratched the surface of what Voice & AI can bring to business” said Dave Witting, Managing Director, Rocket Insights, Inc.
Boston-based Rocket Insights, a pioneer in the realm of building Voice & AI “Skills”, believes that the opportunities presented to businesses seeking to grow their markets could be as big as mobile apps. “We’re seeing the same growth curve as when the App Store launched” said Witting, “Alexa Skills are a great Marketing tool, the developer support has been strong and Amazon has done a great job building this community.”
Naturally, Witting isn’t the only one to arrive at that conclusion. Many major brands have started using the Alexa Skills Kit to create code that integrates their own products into the Alexa platform. For example:
– Uber created an Alexa app for a voice activated ordering
– Fitbit built an Alexa app for voice activated activity tracking
– CapitalOne now offers an Alexa app for voice activated banking
– 1800-Flowers created an Alexa app for voice activated ordering
– Campbell Soup Company offers an Alexa app for voice activated cooking
One of the first steps on the path to learning more about Alexa should begin with some additional research. For example, an article over at TurboFuture highlights some of the best uses of Alexa. In addition, Rocket Insights has created an Alexa Skills playbook which is a step by step guide of everything you need to know to develop your own Alexa voice app.
One thing is certain, NLP powered assistants are going to become an important technology for both businesses and consumers in 2017.