What AI Does Amazon Use – Alexa The Voice Powered ML AI Virtual Assistant

AI (Artificial Intelligence) isa hot topic at the moment, and a technology that is rapidly growing in ability all the time, thanks to new research and advancements.

What AI Does Amazon Use - Alexa The Voice Powered ML AI Virtual Assistant

Many of us come across AI every day, whether it’s an AI chatbot on a website that’s helping you find what you need, or an AI voice assistant on your mobile phone that can be called on at any time and used.

One of the most common AI, however, is the one that Amazon uses.

Known as Alexa, Amazon has been using this AI virtual assistant since 2014, and is constantly improving its abilities to help users with the use of machine-learning.

Alexa is available in a wide range of different Amazon products, where it helps users in various different ways. 

In our fascinating guide below, we’ve got a complete breakdown of the AI that Amazon uses, with a full explanation of what Alexa is and how this virtual assistant works.

On top of that, we’ll look at Alexa’s use of ML (machine-learning) to help it improve. Read on!

What AI Does Amazon Use?

To begin with, let’s go more in-depth on the question that we touched on in the introduction. 

Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, and one that almost everyone will have heard of.

They’ve built an enormous empire off the back of offering online shopping, and now they make movies and TV shows, have their own physical grocery and book stores, offer cloud-based web services, and much more. 

However, they also offer a wide range of personal assistant devices that use their AI, Alexa.

Known as Echo and Alexa-enabled devices, these products aim to make life much easier, thanks to the power of AI.

With the use of Alexa, users can ask for music to be played, ask for news and updates, control their smart home easily, and much more, all with just the use of their voice.

By speaking to Alexa, users can ask a wide range of questions and commands, which the Amazon AI will then act upon. 

Where Did Alexa Come From?

Alexa was first released in 2014, but the AI technology dates back before then.

Alexa was actually developed from a predecessor known as “ivona”, which was created in Poland.

In 2013, Amazon bought the rights to Ivona, and then developed their own AI from it, launching Alexa the next year. 

What Was The First Device To Use Amazon AI?

By now, after Alexa has been available for 8 years and counting, there are loads of Amazon products and devices that are Alexa-enabled. However, what was the first?

It all began with the 1st Generation model of the Amazon Echo, which was a smart speaker with a tube-like appearance released in March 2014.

A smart speaker is a special type of loudspeaker that receives voice commands, allowing for hands-free activation of various tasks. 

When work began on the Amazon Echo in 2011, it was only to be a smart speaker, but the addition of an ever-improving Alexa AI as the virtual assistant meant that the device would also be able to act as a control center for smart home appliances.

The issue, however, was that people weren’t buying smart home devices back then as much as they do now. 

The Amazon Echo received a smaller, spin-off version in 2016, which was known as the Amazon Echo Dot. Rather than being a large tube, this was a small model about the size of a hockey puck.

However, it still offered all the same features as the main Echo, including the Alexa capabilities. 

As time went on, more and more Amazon Echo products would be released, each with different appearances and abilities. Amazon’s Alexa AI would be the virtual assistant for all of them

What Does Alexa Do?

Amazon’s AI, Alexa, has a wide variety of functions that it can perform, all activated by the voice of the user.

Alexa is said to have more than 90,000 functions (also called “skills”) available, and users can download the ones they want from the Alexa app. 

Controlling Music

Alexa has the ability to directly stream music and media, allowing you to play songs on command from your Alexa device.

Thankfully, this isn’t just limited to Amazon Music, but many other music streaming services, such as Spotify premium, Apple Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and more.

With that being said, not all of these are available on every Alexa-enabled product, which can be limiting.

Users can get Alexa’s attention and then command it to play specific songs, artists, albums, and so on.

Additionally, Alexa can also connect to Audible, allowing users to voice activate the playing of audiobooks whenever they want.

Sending Messages And Calls

Alexa also has the ability to send messages in a few different ways.

What AI Does Amazon Use - Alexa The Voice Powered ML AI Virtual Assistant (1)

If a user wants to send a message to another person’s Alexa application or Echo device, they can easily ask Alexa to send a voice message. 

As for sending typed messages, though, this can only be done from the Alexa app.

Traffic Updates

Alexa can also inform users about traffic conditions, and assist with directions.

Sports Updates

Users can also receive sports updates from Alexis.

They can be especially catered to the user if they add their sports teams of choice in the Sports Update section of the Alexa app. 

Ordering Take-Out

Alexa also has the ability to order take-out food for users, with various different food ordering services supported by the device, such as GrubHub and Domino’s Pizza. 

Home Automation

Users can also connect their Alexa to a range of home automation devices, allowing Alexa to be the control center for their smart home.

For example, a user could then ask Alexa to turn on specific lights or adjust the thermostat, if those were connected to the correct service.

Setting Timers

Alexa can also set a timer when asked.

Reading Wikipedia

Users can also ask Alexa to look up specific Wikipedia articles and then read out certain sections to them.

How Does An Alexa Command Work?

When a user gives a command to Alexa, the Amazon AI recognizes what the user is requesting thanks to a few key parts.

The Wake Word

To get Alexa’s attention, a user needs to say their assigned “wake word”. Users can set their wake word, but most will simply say “Alexa” to wake up the device.

Invocation Name Or Utterance

Alexa then listens out for an invocation keyword from the user that will trigger the specific skill required for the action.

Alexa will also listen for utterance phrases. 

Fulfilling The Command

Alexa will then fulfill the command. If the user has asked a question, Alexa converts sound waves into text, allowing it to gather the information necessary.

Alexa also sends instructions to the cloud-based Alexa Voice Service, which processes the response.

How Does Alexa Improve?

Alexa uses ML (machine-learning) to improve, which is where it tracks data to help learn from its mistakes, as well as track human data to learn how users are likely to act.

Final Thoughts

Amazon’s AI is Alexa, a virtual assistant with loads of functions.

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