When the Amazon Alexa first appeared in 2014, it seemed as though the world first envisaged by the likes of Back to the Future might be a possibility. Five years on, and with further developments being made to the Internet of Things, Amazon has, at last, realised the true potential of Alexa’s voice-generated technology; with the introduction of their groundbreaking Alexa Voice Service.
In essence, the Internet of Things is an umbrella term referring to the multitude of household technologies on the market which can be controlled using Wi-Fi or 4G. It encompasses everything from Wi-Fi plugs that control slow cookers, kettles and blenders at set times, to home security systems which can be accessed remotely.
What the Alexa Voice Service aims to do is to connect the already user-friendly technology provided for by the Internet of Things, with an even more user-friendly interface in the form of voice-controlled software. In other words, the Alexa Voice Service wants to make the Internet of Things voice-activated.
The way this works is that Alexa accesses a category of domestic device with a built-in microphone and speaker technology. The wake word “Alexa” is used, after which Alexa is able to control the device by obeying voice commands from the user. The user is identified through complex voice recognition technology, and regular updates mean that the capabilities of the Alexa Voice Service are growing all the time.
But why is this important? Sure, it’s entertaining to be able to impress your friends at a party by asking Alexa to change the song or turn down the lights, but what possible useful application might it have for normal people? The answer is: Pretty much everything! It would be impossible to go through absolutely everything that the Alexa can access, but here are a couple of key things.
Get Fit with Alexa
Imagine being able to call up your own personal trainer like a genie from a bottle? Someone able to motivate you from the comfort of your own living room. That’s essentially what the 7-Minute Workout is. An online PT app (or “skill” in Amazon speak) which you can set the pace of, pause and resume all with a voice command. Alexa can also access your Fitbit stats from those times when you are away from home. How many steps did you take? How did you sleep last night? Is your blood pressure normal? All the things we would normally expect to have to go to our laptop or phone to access, Alexa Voice can call up in an instant.
Be in Control of Your Money with Alexa
This is probably one of the most useful applications of Alexa Voice since anything to do with finance is usually so strenuous. Anything that avoids a trip to the bank is welcome, and Alexa provides access to plenty of financial skills to ensure that as much stress as possible is taken out of controlling our money. The Capital One skill, for example, allows you to check the balance on your credit card, make payments and access your account details. Everything is voice-activated, of course, so there is no fiddling around with your smartphone or keyboard; though its bank-level security will require you to provide personal details, so make sure that you are out of earshot whenever you are asking Alexa to do your bidding!
Cook with the Help of Alexa Voice
Picture the scene. You’re at the office working late. You want to be able to come home to a freshly cooked meal, but you don’t want to have to wait for your food when you arrive home and you’re tired. Enter Alexa Voice, once again, to save the day! If you own an Anova Pressure Cooker, you can use the Anova Culinary skill to cook your food using your voice. You can set the temperature, set the time and access advice guides for how to cook different things. Imagine coming home to that!
So there you have it; a small sample of the smorgasbord of skills available for access through Alexa. It would also be a mistake to think about Alexa’s voice as being an extension of consumer vanity. There is an opportunity to think of the potential of Alexa Voice in assisting differently-abled or less mobile consumers, the elderly population and anyone else who, for whatever reason, mightn’t necessarily be able to leave their home to access the services available to the wider population.
It is worth keeping an eye on Alexa Voice updates too since more products and services are added to it on a regular basis. The future Marty McFly experienced is here, but one which is more subtle and in many ways more fun than having access to a hoverboard. And who knows? The way things are going, that might be one of the next skills on Amazon Voice’s already extensive list.
To learn more about the importance of voice search, check out our blog here
You can also read more on our Alexa privacy guidelines here