Amazon's voice assistant Alexa can order an Uber, check your credit card balance and even arrange for a Domino's pizza to be delivered to your doorstep. Next up, it will be able to lock your door, thanks to an integration with August, a startup that makes Internet-connected door locks. Embedded in Amazon's voice-controlled Echo smart speakers, as well as its Fire TV video streaming device, Alexa answers questions and lets users order items like diapers from Amazon.com. Over the past year, a number of home automation and smart device companies have built their own skills (the Amazon name for Alexa's apps) for Alexa, letting users turn their lights on or off, or control their thermostats with the voice assistant. Launched in 2014, August's smart lock lets homeowners essentially connect their lock to their smartphone, turning their phones into virtual keys.
Computers may not wear tennis shoes (yet), but thanks to developing artificial intelligence technologies, they're smarter than ever before. Along with those technologies has come a relatively new category of computer science called machine learning, or ML. Similar to statistics, ML involves computer systems that utilize algorithms to automatically learn about data, recognize patterns, and make decisions, all without outside intervention or explicit directions from human beings. In the real world, you can find it being used in smart assistants like Siri and the Amazon Echo, in online fraud detection services, in the facial recognition feature that identifies photos of you on Facebook, and more recently, in Tesla's self-driving car. ML is distinctive in the world of AI in that it can be used to process vast amounts of data quickly, making it a desirable tech skill among job applicants not only in the fields of computer science and engineering, but also marketing, health care, finance, social media, and beyond.
When is milk not milk? This is no trick question -- it's a distinction that artificial intelligence (AI) is going to have to learn to make in order for eMerchants to fully leverage the potential of machine learning. To one customer, "buy milk" means buy a gallon of whole milk; to another, a 1.4-liter jug of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Digital shopping lists, apps and virtual assistants must understand this and not force the customer to spell it out each time before these platforms can successfully become the new normal. "We think about things in shorthand, not in terms of specifics," Dave Barrowman, Skava VP of Innovation, told PYMNTS' Karen Webster in a recent webinar.
At the beginning of last year we announced an Amazon Polly plugin for WordPress. This plugin allows blog and website creators who are using WordPress to quickly and easily create audio versions of their posts, articles and websites. A few months later, we updated the plugin with the ability to quickly translate the content of websites to other languages using the Amazon Translate service. This functionality, together with the ability to create audio versions, allows you to voice the content of sites in translated languages. We want to allow creators and authors to reach more readers/listeners around the world using the latest AI services offered by AWS.
Amazon Prime Day will be about more than deals and one of the biggest e-commerce days of the year. It'll really be about voice. Last year's Prime Day help seed what turned out to be an Alexa everywhere strategy that put multiple Echos in homes. With Prime Day kicking off Monday it's worth noting that Amazon's Echo Show is likely to garner a lot of interest and sales. Keep in mind that Amazon is pushing its own brands throughout Prime Day.