How Alexa became unstoppable and It’s all set to reach new heights
Voice technology is fastest adopted, In less than 5 years almost 50% of U.S. users has used voice technology in one way or other. According to reports it is fastest among Computer, Radio, Television, Internet or even SmartPhone.
Brands are competing for Voice Search/ Voice SEO. And V- Commerce has arrived. Large percentage of smart speaker owners has used it for purchasing products.
Amazon is focusing completely on Alexa, it proves by recent Jeff Bezos Earning Release:
“Alexa was very busy during her holiday season. Echo Dot was the best-selling item across all products on Amazon globally, and customers purchased millions more devices from the Echo family compared to last year. The number of research scientists working on Alexa has more than doubled in the past year, and the results of the team’s hard work are clear. In 2018, we improved Alexa’s ability to understand requests and answer questions by more than 20% through advances in machine learning, we added billions of facts making Alexa more knowledgeable than ever, developers doubled the number of Alexa skills to over 80,000, and customers spoke to Alexa tens of billions more times in 2018 compared to 2017. We’re energized by and grateful for the response, and you can count on us to keep working hard to bring even more invention to customers.”
If we talk about various developing countries which have great big market, there large number of people do not even have access to Smart phones forget about Smart Speaker. Good news is those users are getting started with Internet, each and every day millions of new user are connecting to Internet, those are next billion users that every big company has eyes on.
But this will not be any bad factor for Voice industry in long run because phone companies are launching good cheap feature phones which are voice activated and those users may find it more easy to use voice commands because it will work with regional languages too, so those users will be all set for using Voice to interact with technology in future.
Other than above news if we take a look on some important factors:
- Highest selling record in 2018 holiday season:
Each year Alexa is setting high selling records on Amazon. It also becomes #1 Top Free app on Google Play and Apple App Store, as it requires mobile app to setup Alexa first time. In various predictions we see that by 2020 50% of all searches will be Voice Search
According to a post from TechCrunch around 41 percent of U.S. consumers now owning a voice-activated speaker, up from 21.5 percent in 2017 and In the U.S., there are now more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices installed — a key milestone for Alexa to become a “critical mass platform”.
2. Amazon keeps improving Alexa for everyone to make it easy to use and more reachable:
For developers they improve by adding new tools and APIs for eg. In Skill purchase system, Location Address access system, Multi screen devices compatibility to code, Improved skill discoverability, good ways available to test skill, etc
For Organisations and Business they provide Alexa for Business, Alexa Hospitality
For users they add billions of facts to make Alexa more knowledgable, security features such as Alexa Guard which can notify user for any trouble sound and supporting other projects by Alexa Fund and adding them with Alexa like Hatch Baby smart nursery device, Ctrl-labs New York-based startup which connects brain with machine.
3. Great resources are available for developers, and great community for everyone in Voice field:
With number of users every platform required developers to develop creative, new and lot of applications which users can use. The documentation and development resources amazon provide are great way to start with development of any Skill for Alexa.
Amazon team provides weekly office hours, developers can get connected live and can ask questions related to Alexa Skill Development.
Amazon is also organising various programs for universities to provide training of Alexa Skills development to students. Some good institutes are taking it seriously and providing all resources and time to students to increase knowledge and learn Alexa Skills development, this will create huge army of Alexa Skill developers, specially in great young people nation like India. Not to mention AWS is most successful and widely used cloud out there and it already has huge army of developers, and Alexa Skills backend development completely resonates with that, amazon is also working to make all those developers to start working on Alexa Skills.
For Everyone in Voice Community:
Website Voicebot.ai provides all the news in whole Voice industry
There are various great people in Voice community who truly believe in Voice technology and gone all in on Voice.
And communities which hosts meet-up like Voice Summit which is hosted in Newark (started in 2018, will be organised this year too and should be every year) organised by Modev sponsored by Amazon Alexa and others, Alexa Conference , ‘All about Voice’ from Germany. Not to forget the very first Voice conference VoiceCon was organised by VaynerMedia of Gary Vaynerchuk
I know there are various other people in community who are doing helpful work, Please send me message so I can list you here and it will be helpful for everyone
4. Various new Alexa devices and Alexa enabled devices makes it available everywhere:
4. Various new Alexa devices and Alexa enabled devices makes it available everywhere:
There is huge popularity of Alexa in Smart Home world, there are more than 28,000 devices from more than 4500 brands connected to Alexa. Hence if we go to list out all devices it will become very long, here are few of them:
Alexa is available on headphones, wearables, cars, security devices, kitchen appliances, smart lights etc.
Boss Wireless Headphone with Alexa Built in was on top in most selling electronics.
Echo Auto the first echo for your car: With Echo Auto Amazon tries to connect user with Alexa on the go, where users miss it the most.
In Auto sector too other companies are using/connecting with Alexa to make better solutions like Telenav and Amazon Alexa Collaborate to Bring Conversational Voice Interface for In-Car Navigation
And World’s first Alexa Enabled bike launched in CES 2019, this kind of uses of Alexa are very great for eg. person who is driving a car or bike would find it easy to interact with voice rather than screen, and it will also remove problem of distraction while driving.
Security: Amazon’s Alexa is making its way to home security systems. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, San Francisco company First Alert unveiled a refreshed alarm system — the Onelink Safe and Sound — with Alexa built in, in addition to a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, an intelligent doorbell, and a beefed-up mesh Wi-Fi mesh system with parental controls and messaging features.
In same event ConnectSense company has introduced In-Wall Smart Outlet during CES 2019 which is capable of monitoring the total power consumption of each outlet and with other real time features, it works with Amazon Alexa and other voice assistants.
Many other Alexa Built in, Smart Home Devices, Alexa Auto devices launched at CES 2019 (the biggest Consumer Electronic Show), that list could also go very long. We will need to list all those details in another article.
Smart home enthusiasts or normal users, who have lots of smart devices in their house wants to control each and every device with Alexa. [This statement is based on requests I receive from clients who wants to make their smart home controllable with Alexa]
It also means that Alexa is becoming something that all smart home devices must be connected to.
What will happen with lot of Alexa devices? 🙂 see this video
It is having millions of views, don’t worry its just Super Bowl commercial 🙂
5. There are AI Scientists working behind Alexa to make it smarter :
Amazon scientist are working to make Alexa better and smarter so that it can do conversation with user like real person.
The number of employees working in Amazon on Alexa is also increasing rapidly as requirement grows:
There are currently 10,000 employees working on Alexa, it might be 25,000 till 2020.
In an Amazon blog, Rohit Prasad head scientist Amazon Alexa talked about technology and Alexa’s future. He said: With launching of Echo in 2014 amazon showed that far-field speech recognition in noisy environments can be done with high accuracy through a combination of machine learning algorithms, data, and immense computing power.
- Making wake word recognition better: Alexa scientist researched on improving wake word recognition and provided new deep neural network (DNN) architecture for training a speech feature directly from raw audio input and A novel background noise modeling method using monophone-based sound units that can take richer information into account.
- No need to enable skills: Alexa Scientists are working to crack super hard AI problems and to make Alexa where there will be no need to enable skills, so it can suggest and make conversation with user directly, example if users tells “Alexa get me a car” and Alexa will reply back with best result according to user location, subscription, past use among Uber, Ola, Lyft etc
- They are making more efficient “Kernel Methods” which dramatically reduce learning time for Natural-Language-Understanding systems. With slightly over four hours of training, a machine learning system using their technique achieved higher accuracy than a system trained for 7.5 days with the standard technique.
Mainly they are improving each steps that Alexa takes internally: recognising wake word, recognising speech after wake work (ASR) in AWS, converting Audio to text and then using natural language understanding (NLU) and then adding context to it, and then determining best action Alexa should take.
To make Alexa smarter it must be aware of context, or if we talk about any AI system which has to learn it should be opened to world, talking about same Mr. Rohit Prasad said, in MIT Technology Review post:
The only way to make smart assistants really smart is to give it eyes and let it explore the world.
It should not be a surprise if we see Alexa with a camera in near future.
Many other researches like above are making Alexa smarter and better day by day.
Conclusion: Based on all above important factors, we can say that Alexa is all set to reach new height.
If you are looking forward to building your own Alexa Skill, you can check my article to know what things to keep in mind while developing Alexa Skill and The Ultimate Guide on How to build Alexa Skills.
Please don’t forget to Clap, if you like this article 🙂
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How Alexa became unstoppable and It’s all set to reach new heights was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.