Alexa, Amazon’s superior AI-enabled voice technology is about to become more widely available on a number of Bluetooth headphones, fitness trackers and other devices you can wear. But it’s also going to revolutionize those functional home tools most of us rely on regularly – like microwave ovens and alarm clocks.
Amazon Opens the Door
Amazon now allows qualified product developers to add Alexa functions to their varied product lines. There are actually 2 ways commercial device developers can deploy Alexa’s voice technology and add significant end-user value to their products.
Firstly, the Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) makes it possible for manufacturers to integrate Alexa directly into their own connected (via Bluetooth) products. Secondly, the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit (AMA) lets product developers and manufacturers add Alexa functionality more easily. This kit is more of an alternative or lightweight method, designed to help makers add Alexa to their on-the-go products.
Gaining Market Share Through Collaboration
It appears that by opening up their software, Amazon intends to not just compete but to win market share from other voice assistant technologies such as Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant.
It’s a strategy that has made it a lot easier for major product developers like Bose, Jabra, and iHome to focus their attention on what they do best, which is build personal electronics. At the same time, they can now tap into an already established voice command capability of Amazon’s Alexa.
By making these development kits available, manufacturers can build their products and hook directly into the Alexa app – whether it’s on the iOS or Android platform. And they can do so without having to rely on their own voice computing and virtual assistant application, or having to create a separate Alexa skill to make their devices usable. These products will be ready to go right out of the box.
A Win-Win-Win Opportunity
Amazon benefits by having more Alexa-ready products to offer.
Manufacturers benefit by short-cutting the process for adding extra, in-demand functionality and value to their products.
And consumers benefit from this exciting new array of Alexa-enabled Bluetooth designed to make life a little sweeter – if not easier. Plus, they’ll have a greater variety of devices to choose from.
All of thee products will be easy for the consumer to set up. To get connected, all you’ll have to do is pair up any device to their smart phone and run through a quick setup process. It’s much the same set up as you would typically go through with any Bluetooth headset or speaker.
Exciting Times Ahead
What’s most exciting about this is that Alexa will be available on multiple headphones, smart watches, fitness trackers, and more. It’s going to make life even more “hands-free” – thanks to Alexa.
It benefits the consumer when there are more competitors in the marketplace to take on the dominant players, specifically – Apple and Google. As voice computing and virtual assistant devices continue to increase in popularity, it’s better to have a variety of products and multiple brands available and let consumers vote with their wallets and purses.
What Are Alexa Skills?
Alexa is voice-enabled artificial intelligence technology designed to respond to different user commands. Basic commands are built into the program. But it’s the added “Skills” that give Alexa greater capability and functionality.
Skills are related to specific actions, like asking Alexa to find the best local Italian restaurant, for example. These skills can be added to any Alexa-enabled device to provide added versatility – whether it’s for gaming, reading, listening to music, or any one of a million possibilities.
The more skills you choose to add to your Alexa device, the greater its use and value to you. Skills could include playing music from various sources, controlling smart home devices, asking questions about something on Wikipedia, managing your calendar, getting weather forecasts, etc.
Users wake the device by simply saying “Alexa” They then issue a command – and Alexa takes care of the task for them. For example, “Alexa, play some blues”. Adding skills allows users to perform more actions (or have them done for you) using nothing but your voice.
Skills Add Versatility
One of the things that makes Alexa a better option in my opinion are the number of skills that are already available, with more being developed constantly. Amazon wisely opened up the creation and development of Alexa skills to anyone through their free, Alexa Skills Kit. This enables even novice developers to create new skills without worrying about complex speech recognition.
Alexa works in a similar fashion to Google Assistant or Siri on Apple’s devices. After having used all three, it’s clear to me that Alexa is a better option with a more diverse range of capabilities and better accuracy.
What Products Will Be Alexa-Enabled?
Alexa technology is being added to a number of brands of wearable tech who produce such Bluetooth-enabled products as earbuds, headphones, and smartwatches.
Some are already available as these words are being written.
The Bose QC 35 11 was the first headphone on the market to implement the Alexa mobile accessory protocol.
And the number and variety of devices that support Alexa will only increase from there as product developers get creative.
Automotive accessories, wearable electronics, and portable Bluetooth speakers are a few of the emerging categories of Alexa-enabled products soon to be available.
Voice Technology Is A Game-Changer
It’s a wonderful time to be alive – particularly if you’re a fan of tech tools. For those who are yet to embrace voice technology and all it can do, more options and choices will soon be available.
The advantage Amazon has is that it’s already well ahead of the curve with Alexa. By collaborating with outside manufacturers, these companies can focus exclusively on what they do best; building quality electronic hardware. But now they can add Alexa capability, quickly and easily. This adds significant value to those products, increasing the firm’s competitiveness and Amazon’s reach around the globe.