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Technology 07.27.17 BLOG 

Where is Voice Going? A Case Study of Amazon’s Alexa

By TransPerfect’s Media & Entertainment Team

voice recognition amazon alexa

Where is Voice Going? A Case Study of Amazon’s Alexa

Businesses and individuals are continuing to find more and more applications for voice assistants, and products are becoming increasingly integrated with voice buddies in attempts to make life more efficient and hands-free. Amazon's Alexa is currently at the forefront of voice technology, recently hitting a milestone of 10,000 skills, or third-party features that are accessible via specialized Alexa voice commands. Here is a look at where Amazon's Alexa products and applications are headed.

1Development of Voice ID

Amazon's Alexa may become even smarter in the near future, as Amazon is currently working on developing voice identification software that will allow Alexa to identify who it is speaking with and differentiate speakers from one another. This new feature, Voice ID, would be able to match a person's voice to a prerecorded voice print to accurately identify voices. With this function, primary account holders could enact limitations on the voice capabilities for other members of the household or guests and access one's personal accounts with more security. If Voice ID becomes a feature of Alexa, it would be the first of its kind, pioneering the way for more voice identification technology to come.

2Introduction to a mobile app

Amazon's Alexa is now available on its Amazon shopping app for iOs, causing it to become available to users on iPhones and iOS devices. Although Alexa lives on the Amazon app, its functions are not limited to the app itself and can perform a variety of functions extending beyond shopping. You may ask Alexa to check the weather, tell you jokes, play music, control your smart home features, or answer questions. This puts Alexa in direct competition with the Apple's voice assistant Siri, but it has increased the accessibility of Alexa to users of the iPhone.

3Introduction to competitor products

Amazon has recently allowed Alexa to be adapted for competitor products, licensing its technology to other manufacturers attempting to create home assistant products similar to Amazon's Echo. Most recently, Lenovo launched the Lenovo Smart Assistant, a smart speaker integrated with Alexa. By offering Alexa to other device manufacturers, Amazon is allowing more and more developers to hop into the voice market as well as increasing Alexa's household penetration.

4Introduction to other designs

Up until recently, the Echo speakers were the only object in which Alexa could be found, but Alexa has now been introduced to a broader range of designs. C by GE is one example—it is a stylish lamp with a built-in Alexa assistant. Now, Alexa can be made available in a multitude of household designs, so that you may find assistance in forms other than speakers.  

5Introduction to multi-assistant devices

Mattel has paired with both Amazon and Microsoft to create its new Aristotle smart speaker and camera. This device houses two assistants, Amazon's Alexa and Aristotle, powered by Microsoft's Cortana technology. Both assistants may be invoked by calls to their respective names, but cater to different audiences of the product. Alexa is made for the adult user, while Aristotle is made for the child user—able to answer children's, soothe them when they cry, and sing lullabies.

6Introduction to motor vehicles

Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Volvo all announced Alexa integrations this past year, bringing Alexa into the car voice assistant market. Most notably, the partnership between Ford and Alexa is taking voice assistance one step further, allowing you to feed destinations into your car navigation systems, control smart homes from the driving seat, and lock, unlock, start, and check info on your car from inside the house, all through Alexa. Although Alexa experienced a late start diving into the automotive voice assistance market, it seems like it may quickly transform the space.

7Introduction to mobile devices

Amazon's Alexa has recently made a play for the mobile market through Huawei's Mate 9. The Mate 9 is a high-performing Android smart phone with Alexa integration that has just entered the American market. Alexa has now joined the crowded mix of voice assistant phones already in the market, competing against Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Samsung's phone products that have all had voice assistants built in for years.

8Introduction to TV

Despite Alexa's myriad functions, it continues to lack one vital skill—the ability to command a TV. While Amazon's Fire TV devices have Alexa built into them, they lack the always-listening capability of the Echo and are unable to be commanded via the Echo—TV's of the same nature produced by other manufacturers fall victim to the same problem.

Therefore, the Dish Hopper 3 is one product that is looking to change this reality and push us towards a remote-less, button-less TV future. This TV features integration with Amazon Alexa and allows you to vocally prompt your TV to change channels, find and stream movies through apps, and Google search. However, it may be a while before a finalized product hits the market.

9Integration with smart home devices

Alexa has the potential to be a universal smart home hub for all the devices in your home, regardless of which providers you employ for different products. Many smart home companies have native support for Alexa and allow for effortless integration, so that you may call upon Alexa to turn off your lights, update your home security settings, change your refrigerator settings, etc. Numerous companies have smart home hubs that are compatible with different brands of devices, but none are as universal and ubiquitous as Alexa.

 

Additional Resources:

https://medium.com/@screenmedia/alexa-at-ces-where-is-voice-going-42ba164146d8

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2017/03/22/alexa-on-the-go-amazon-staffing-up-its-ai-for-cars/#19f4e75f3400

https://thenextweb.com/gadgets/2017/01/06/huawei-brings-the-mate-9-to-the-us-but-amazon-alexa-is-poor-choice/#.tnw_DGzTF1nt

https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/03/amazon-brings-mobile-alexa-to-ios-devices-through-its-shopping-app/

https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/02/amazons-alexa-could-soon-recognize-users-by-their-voices/

https://venturebeat.com/2017/01/07/hands-on-with-amazon-alexa-on-the-dish-hopper/

https://www.cnet.com/news/vivint-security-brings-voice-control-to-the-forefront-at-ces/

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/one-year-after-alexa-amazons-echo-has-found-a-small-but-smart-niche/


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