Amazon's intelligent personal assistant Alexa is getting smarter as hundreds of new commands will be integrated to the system soon.
The voice interaction system from Amazon has assisted users since 2014 by playing music, creating lists, providing traffic and weather information, setting alarms and more. Prior to Black Friday 2017, Amazon also announced Alexa-exclusive deals to help people shop on Amazon with voice commands.
Alexa Is Getting Better
Before, Alexa was able to manage just 15 command categories called "intents," which are used with voice commands. Intents allow Alexa to understand basic voice inquiries from users. Amazon has confirmed that in the coming weeks the company will add hundreds of new intents, slots and commands to the Alexa Skills Kit. However, these will be available for use only in the United States initially. It is likely that the command library will also be made available to users in other parts of the world in the near term.
The Alexa Skills Kit comprises tools that developers can use for creating skills. The inclusion of new intents and slots will streamline skill building, which will save time for developers.
When users ask Alexa different questions, Amazon keeps track of how the intelligent assistant understands and then responds to queries. Amazon wants to improve on Alexa's natural language understanding.
Amazon suggests that the number of skills in the Alexa Skills Marketplace has increased from about 100 at the beginning of 2016 to more than 5,000.
Alexa Will Not Ask Too Many Questions
Amazon also revealed that the company wants Alexa to have improved ideas on what a user is asking and not to ask as many clarifying questions.
"From a conversational aspect, I think there [are] a lot of trade-offs on doing it right. Alexa shouldn't come back and ask you [needless] questions. That would be really frustrating. But Alexa should always ask a question when needed, and the ability to have a conversation is super important as well," said Rohit Prasad, the vice president of Alexa at Amazon, in an interview with Backchannel.
Alexa And Smart Homes
The concept of smart homes has been gaining traction in the last few years. Alexa-enabled devices such as Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap and Amazon Echo Dot work with a number of home products that users can control via voice commands, such as thermostats, lights, switches and more.
"Ask Alexa to switch on a lamp, turn on the fan, dim the lights or increase the temperature. Some products work directly with Alexa and other smart home ecosystems require a compatible hub," says Amazon.
As the demand for smart homes increases, the functional capability of Alexa-enabled devices is also expected to improve and Amazon will have to ensure that Alexa understands a wide range of commands to impress users.