First there was Apple’s Siri. Then there was Microsoft’s Cortana. Now comes Amazon’s Alexa. Amazon has just announced that the company has a new virtual assistant that has been named ‘Alexa.’
Alexa will be voice controlled just like Siri, and has previously been available solely through the Echo device. Now, there’s talk of expanding Alexa to other Amazon services - and it’s really not a bad idea at all if you use Kindle frequently.
The Alexa Potential
If you’ve ever been reading a book on your Kindle and wished that you had a personal page turner, you may be able to see the excellent potential in Alexa. With a voice operated personal assistant, you could simply ask Alexa to turn the page for you in the future. You could also ask her to look up a word that you don’t know, to explain something to you, or to research additional information about an author or a particular place that you're reading about in a book.
But Amazon has bigger plans for Alexa too. The company has recently released an Alexa software development kit in the hopes of enticing developers to use the Alexa technology. Amazon has also created a $100 million dollar fund for those companies that are working on voice control technology currently. If Amazon can get developers to use Alexa across various apps, this voice technology could be a rival for Siri and other assistants.
Development Under Way
Amazon has also revealed that the company has already invested some of that fun money into various companies. While Amazon hasn’t disclosed the names of those companies, the company has stated what each of those companies is working on currently. So far, the list includes a toy that’s connected to Alexa, a cooking app, a fitness device, a home monitoring system, a car assistant, and a garage door control system. All of these things will be powered by Amazon’s new Alexa.
Unlike other companies that have voice controlled systems for use with their products, Amazon is opening up the whole Alexa’s development system to any developer, hobbyist, or hacker that wants to try and use the technology for any kind of development.
Keeping Alexa open like this will likely lead to more companies using the voice technology and spread it to other apps and devices. This is precisely what Amazon wants, so that Alexa becomes a well-known name. But, a voice controlled system is only as good as it functions, and that’s something that Amazon will have to prove.
A Good Idea if It works
Opening up technology to any developer or hacker is a good idea in some ways, but it can also mean inviting some trouble. Sometimes, devices and apps that have include a technology like Alexa don’t work well, and that could cause a bad name for the whole system.
Then again, companies like Google have started to be more open with their technology, so this could all be the wave of the future. Either way, you can expect to see more Alexa involvement in both Amazon apps and devices in the near future - in addition to other apps that include Amazon’s Alexa.