For the past couple of months, I’ve really enjoyed using Alexa, thanks to a Christmas gift of a new Amazon Echo. With remarkably good voice recognition, even in a noisy room, Alexa plays music, checks the weather, hails an Uber ride, and adds items to a shopping list. Bonus: tells bad jokes.
And that just scratches the surface. Alexa now has over 10,000 skills and Amazon is making it easy for developers to add new voice experiences. Thankfully, coming soon will be the ability to integrate with our family’s Sonos sound system. While apps are great, it’s sooooo much easier to just say: “Play my favorite music.” And don’t get me started on cable TV, with a controller so complicated only millennials could use it… if they watched TV.
This is a simple consumer example of why “artificial intelligence” or AI is coming of age. One element is understanding input in a natural way via voice, text, gestures, even facial recognition. This is not new technology by any means: natural language processing (NLP) is decades old, with a wide array of text- and speech-analytics solutions commercially available.