Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon Lab126 in November 2014. Amazon Echo has made it popular. Alexa is one of the Amazon’s cloud-based voice service providing voice experiences on billions of devices in the home, inclusive of Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, and Fire TV devices. The concept of Alexa was inspired by the computer voice and conversational system. Alexa built-in capabilities are referred to as skills. Alexa Voice Service (AVS) adds voice experiences to desired connected hardware built with a speaker and microphone.
The Alexa Skills Kit lets you teach Alexa new skills. Alexa is able to perform various skills like voice interaction, playing music, creating to-do lists, setting up alarms, playing audio books, providing real-time information like weather forecast, traffic, etc. It also acts as a home automation hub allowing users to control smart devices. To activate Alexa’s listening mode, some devices are required to use a word- wake while others require pushing the button of the device. Currently, interaction and communication with Alexa are only available in English and German. You can build skills that give users with many different types of abilities.
Amazon allows developers to build and publish skills for Alexa using the Alexa Skills Kit. These skills are 3rd-party developed voice experiences that add to the capabilities of any Alexa-enabled device (such as the Echo). These skills are available for free download using the Alexa app. There are now more than 12,000 skills from companies like Starbucks, Uber, and Capital One as well as innovative designers and developers.
Users can install the Alexa companion app from Apple App store, Google Play, and Amazon App store. Alexa enabled devices allow the app to install various “skills”. For example, Alexa devices will respond to your questions about items in your Google calendar. As of November 2016, the Alexa App store had over 5,000 skills available for users to download. By calling her name “Alexa” you first wake up the device and once activated, you can ask Alexa to perform the task for you.
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