Amazon Sets Lex (The Tech Behind Alexa) Loose

Alexa’s been in the spotlight for awhile now as Amazon’s darling voice-activated AI assistant. But the deep learning technologies behind the voice of Echo, Echo Dot and a growing number of other devices has, for the most part, stayed cooped up with Amazon Web Services.

But just recently, Amazon set the technology, known as Lex, free upon the world.

Now, all developers have access. Get ready for a tidal wave of talkative tech. Not to mention chatbots galore.

Lex has been released as an AI service for developers to build conversational applications using voice and text. This allows developers to leverage Lex’s automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) capabilities without requiring the massive data infrastructure it once did.

In a preview test, organizations spanning industries reportedly built on top of Lex’s capabilities — like Capital One, Hubspot, Liberty Mutual and Vonage, among others.

“Thousands of machine learning and deep learning experts across Amazon have been developing AI technologies for years,” said Raju Gulabani, Vice President, Databases, Analytics, and AI at AWS. “Amazon Alexa includes some of the most sophisticated and powerful deep learning technologies in existence. We thought customers might be excited to use the same technology that powers Alexa to build conversational apps.”

Excited indeed.

Voice is set to be the next important commerce platform, app interface navigation tool and customer service tech development.

But one wonders how voice will fare away from the heavy commerce and data arsenals of this tech giant. Not to mention outside its familiar hardware and shell. Though Amazon has also made moves to release some of that into the world as well.

Some might argue that all Alexa really is is a (highly successful) chatbot, and will succeed as such in other environments.

On that front, Alexa has largely been in a league of its own since launching with only a few challengers. Well, really just Google as of now — since Google also found a few ways to bring commerce into the mix with its own voice-activated hardware play.

But will consumers take the bait as other businesses, brands and institutions roll out their own AI voice and text technology in other capacities? If it’s got anything to do with Alexa, they just might. There’s already positive brand recognition and faith in its capabilities to that end.

And the release of Lex upon the developer world puts Amazon in a key position to compete with Facebook on the chatbot end.

If the latest chatbot army debuted during F8 can hold up against their more complex and sophisticated counterparts in the voice-activated space, that is.

Let’s put it this way. Facebook wants to centralize. It wants to have everything, from brand interactions and payments via innumerable chatbots, happen on its website and orbiting apps.

Amazon, meanwhile wants its single, all-encompassing chatbot to proliferate — to have it be everywhere at once, leveraged in innumerable devices by all types of brands and services.

The push and pull between the two should make for an interesting spectacle as the voice-activated and bot spaces continue to fight for consumer adoption.



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