Amazon Seeks 'Star Trek' Level Conversations For Alexa Assistant
LAS VEGAS – Amazon (AMZN) wants users of its Alexa voice interface technology to do more than ask simple questions about the weather and traffic or give basic commands to play music and control the lights. It wants users to have conversations with Alexa.
X That’s the message David Isbitski, Amazon’s chief evangelist for Alexa and Echo, delivered to a standing-room-only session Wednesday at CES 2018, the giant consumer technology trade show that started Tuesday and runs through Friday.
The goal is for people to have conversations with Amazon Echo smart speakers and other devices like they’re on “Star Trek,” chatting with the computer, Isbitski said. It’s a concept he called “ambient computing.”
“We’re living in that future now where we can talk to technology like human beings,” he said at a forum that kicked off two days of Amazon Alexa educational sessions for consumer tech firms at CES.
Amazon shares inched up 0.1% Wednesday to end the regular trading session at 1,254.33, an all-time closing high.
Scores of companies at CES announced that they are integrating Alexa voice controls in products ranging from lighting, thermostats and door locks to refrigerators and cars.
Rival Google, a unit of Alphabet (GOOGL), also is at the show, pushing hard to get its Google Assistant voice technology integrated into as many devices as possible. Google wrapped the Las Vegas Monorail trains with its “Hey, Google” voice prompt message and bought video advertisements on the Las Vegas Strip at the Fashion Show Mall.
IBD’S TAKE: Amazon broke back into buy territory last week. Shares hit an all-time closing high of 1,254.33 on Wednesday, just below their intraday high of 1,259.33, reached on Tuesday. It remains 12th in IBD’s Retail-Internet Group behind top-ranked Alibaba (BABA).
Google set up a whimsical building outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and operated giant gumball machines that dispensed prizes for CES attendees.
But Amazon was first to market with a smart speaker with voice technology and holds a commanding lead. More than 25,000 skills have been created for Alexa to date. Those skills allow users to control devices and to get access to online information on specific topics.
“At Amazon, we really feel that this represents the next major disruption in computing,” Isbitski said. “This is going to be the most natural way to interact with technology.”
The next step for voice-activated personal assistants like Alexa is for the technology to become more infused with artificial intelligence and to understand context and remember previous conversations and interactions, he said. In other words, they need to get smarter and learn the behavior and preferences of users.