Okay let get right into it, Amazon Alexa is a voice service, a cloud-based software program that acts as a voice-controlled virtual personal assistant. In a nutshell, you use your voice to ask Alexa a question or give Alexa a command, and it dutifully answers you if an answer exists or carries out your request if your request is possible. The key here is that Alexa responds to voice commands.
This is true that operating systems such as Windows and macOS have had voice control tools for many years, but they were obscure and unreliable, so they were used by only a handful of people. Voice control’s bid for the mainstream did not get serious until Apple purchased the Siri speech recognition app in 2010 and released it with iOS 5 a year later. Suddenly, it became cool to interact with a computer, at least one in the shape of a smartphone with voice commands.
Since then, numerous voice control tools have been released, including Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and various voice command features found in modern cars. However, it was the release of the full version of Amazon’s Alexa in 2015 that really got the voice ball rolling. Amazon does not release sales figures, but most industries agree that tens of millions of Alexa devices have been sold.
Why Alexa is so popular?
There are lots of reasons, but the one that really matters is that Alexa is or tries hard to be a personal assistant. Older voice command tools were geared toward using a computer such as running programs, pulling down menus, accessing settings and so on. Alexa does not do any of that. Rather it is focused on doing things for you in your real-life such as playing music, podcasts or audio books, setting up timers and alarms and so on.
How Alexa Works
Given the various Alexa components, the general procedure that happens when you interact with Alexa to get some things done is as follows –
- You say, Alexa. Your Alexa device wakes up, as indicated by the device’s light ring turning blue in most cases. The device is now hanging on your every word.
- You State your business: a question, a command, or whatever. The Alexa devices record what you say. When you are done the device uses your internet-connected WiFi network to send the recording to AVS in Amazon’s cloud. It may appear like Alexa lives inside whatever device you have, but Alexa is very much an internet-based service. That means if you don’t have internet access, you don’t have Alexa access either.
- AVS uses it’s speech recognization component to turn the recorded words into actual data that can be analyzed.
- AVS uses its natural language processing component to analyze the words in your command then figure out exactly what you have asked Alexa to do. AVS doesn’t analyze every single word you say. Instead, it mostly look for the telltale keywords that indicate what you have asked Alexa to provide. For example, if you said, “What’s the weather forecast for tomorrow?” all AVS needs are the words “weather”, “forecast” and “tomorrow” to deliver the correct info.
- The AVS can’t fulfill your requests directly, it passes the request along to a third-party service such as Accuweather or Wikipedia and then gathers the response.
- AVS returns the response via the internet to your Alexa device. What AVS returns to your Alexa device depends on the result. If the result is just and information for you, AVS converts the info into speech and stores the speech in an audio file that your Alexa device can play. If the result is a command for example if you have asked to play a particular song then AVS passes that command back to the Alexa device.
- The Alexa device either uses a built-in or connected speaker to broadcast the result of your request or carries out your command. If Alexa device has a screen, you also see the result on the screen.
Advances in the Natural language processing technology have allowed dramatic growth in intelligent personal assistants such as Alexa. Voice-based AI is so appealing as it holds the promise of assisting in a way that is natural to us. Amazon continues to have an army of experts in the enhancement of machines on the task of making Alexa even better. They aim to make the spoken word a user interface that is as natural as talking to another human being.
That was all for Alexa, do check some amazing information on how does internet work that actually has the backing to all of it!